The Portland Business Journal Editorial Board weight in on Governor Kitzhaber’s education reform proposals.  Their advice:  Make it happen.

Portland Business Journal Editorial
04.08.11

Overhaul state’s education system

Gov. John Kitzhaber is right. Oregon’s education system is a mess.

His plan to create one office to manage the state’s entire education system is a big step toward changing that.

Kitzhaber wants to create the Oregon Education Investment Board, which would consolidate planning and finances from pre-kindergarten through college and graduate school.

It’s a radical idea. It’s also a good one.

When it comes to education, Oregon can’t continue to simply bump along. Education funding has always been this state’s achilles heel. Public education accounts for 40 percent of the state’s $14.4 billion general fund budget.

The statistics are grim:

l he current budget for the Oregon University System is $807.5 million. That’s almost 10 percent below the 2007-2009 budget. It’s also not enough to maintain current services, according to a state analysis

l he state’s proposed K-12 funding level of $5.7 billion for the next two years is also short of what’s needed to maintain current services — by $1 billion. And that’s in a budget at the same funding level as currently exists.

Better coordination would reduce bureaucracy, align objectives and lead to better graduation rates.

Under Kitzhaber’s proposal introduced Tuesday, a 13-member Oregon Education Investment Board would assume the tasks now performed by the Oregon Board of Higher Education and the Oregon State Board of Education. K-12 School superintendents across the state would report to a chief education investment officer.

The proposal, Senate Bill 909, will face plenty of opposition at all levels — mostly from longtime education bureaucrats reluctant to relinquish control.

Oregon’s woeful education system needs a radical overhaul. The plan is fresh, innovative and intriguing.

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