On June 21 the Oregon House of Representatives voted 54-5 to establish the Oregon Education Investment Board, SB 909.  The bill will now go to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Currently, Oregon’s disconnected system of education funding and policy-making treats early learning, K-12, and post-secondary education as separate silos rather than a continuous pathway that leads all Oregon students to a successful future. The result is a competition for resources, and a lack of coordinated policy making.  SB 909 aims to change that.  You can read more atwww.pathtosuccessoregon.org.

SB 909 passed along with a dozen or so other education bills, many of which will make significant improvements to Oregon’s s system of public education.  As many legislators noted today, these bills will not solve all of Oregon’s education problems.  Lack of stable funding and rising costs for health care, prisons and other public expenditures that divert resources from schools and the classroom must be addressed.  However, these bills are a critical first step and have the potential to significantly improve the investments we are currently making in schools.  Here are just some of the bills:

  • SB 252 gives educators the opportunity to design local systems that support and continually strengthen their skills in the classroom.
  • SB 909 creates a unified “zero-to-20” approach to education that will create better results for students, more resources for teachers, and better value for the future of our state.
  • SB 552 allows the Governor to appoint the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • SB 250 allows school districts in some Education Service Districts (ESDs) to pilot opting out of their current ESD in order to find cost efficiencies.
  • SB 5055 includes $25 million in additional funding for K-12 schools.
  • HB 3362 boosts career and technical education

For the past week, it wasn’t clear if these bills would reach the floor for a vote.  They were part of a negotiation between legislative leadership to advance a package of bills that would move to the floor together.   Some elements of the package were particularly controversial for many legislators, with some concerns based on policy and others based on process (some of these bills had not passed through policy committees).

While it was a difficult and at times messy process, in the end legislators stepped up to compromise and ensure that good bills were able to pass.  Co-Speakers Roblan and Hanna spent countless hours working toward a deal, and key legislators stepped up to the plate today to cast critical (and difficult) votes.

We urge you to contact your legislator and thank them for working across the aisle and stepping up to support students in spite of a difficult and at times frustrating process.  While there is much work to be done, we believe that Oregon’s kids, and economy, will be better off because of the actions taken today.