As this chart indicates, no factor impacts employment and income more than educational attainment. When it comes to meeting the goals set out in the Oregon Business Plan-creating 25, 000 new jobs per year through 2020 and bringing Oregon’s per capita income above the national average, doing everything we can to improve student learning is of the utmost importance.

The Oregon legislature is considering several key reforms that can improve student learning. The one that we have spent the most time discussing is Senate Bill 909, the Oregon Education Investment Board. Currently decisions on education policy and funding are divided into silos pitting K-12 against post-secondary education and early learning. Instead of creating arbitrary boundaries and governing boards, Oregon should be focused on student achievement from birth through grade 20. By establishing a 0-20 education investment board, SB 909 will help us get there.

There are many other great bills being discussed as well, including SB 252 – expanding one of the most effective programs for improving student outcomes that we have seen in recent years–the Chalkboard CLASS Project. Results in Tillamook and Sherwood have shown dramatically improved student achievement and teacher satisfaction. This bill would add state investment to supplement federal and foundation grants that fund this innovative, collaborative work in school districts.

SB 250 is a great reform to help us get greater bang for our education buck. This bill allows a few pilot districts to opt-out of their ESD. ESD reform is long overdue, and SB 250 encourages school districts to make the most cost effective and efficient decisions, and to take advantage of economies of scale while still encouraging marketplace competition.

In all, there are 11 bills being discussed by legislators, as well as additional funding.  You can learn about these bills in the Oregonian, who has covered this topic extensively.

So far this year, legislators of both parties and Governor Kitzhaber have worked collaboratively to address issues of critical importance to Oregon’s economy-from dealing with basic issues like permitting linear facilities and highway access management for trucks, to improving the health care system by authorizing the development of a health insurance exchange. Oregon’s economy will be better off because of these efforts.

But no improvements matter more than those that help our students achieve. Pleasecontact your legislator, thank them for their hard work, and ask them to keep working on a compromise to pass critical education bills. While every legislator may not like every part of every bill, doing nothing is the worst thing that we can do for the future of Oregon’s economy.

In addition to your legislator, contact legislative leaders to thank them for keeping these critical negotiations going.

• Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna, 503-986-1200, rep.brucehanna@state.or.us
• Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan, 503-986-1300, rep.arnieroblan@state.or.us
• House Democratic Leader Dave Hunt, 503-986-1900, rep.davehunt@state.or.us
• House Republican Leader Kevin Cameron, 503-986-1419, rep.kevincameron@state.or.us
• Senate President Peter Courtney, 503-986-1600, sen.petercourtney@state.or.us
• Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum, 503-986-1700, sen.dianerosenbaum@state.or.us
• Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, 503-986-1950, sen.tedferrioli@state.or.us