Septemeber 14th, 2014
By Ramin Farahmandpur
With all eyes on the governor's race this fall, incumbent John Kitzhaber is touting his record in reforming public education. The good doctor has misdiagnosed the patient. Oregon's education system suffers not from a poverty of policy, but from a poverty of investment.
Years of budget cuts in K-12 education have given Oregon one of the shortest school years in the country. Disinvestment has caused the explosion of class sizes—also one of the nation's highest. Inadequate investment has led to layoffs of teachers, librarians, custodians, counselors, administrators and other school personnel.
Oregon's higher education system fares no better. Its restructuring by the governor's misnamed Oregon Education Investment Board has failed to resolve the many challenges students, faculty and administrators confront. Soaring college tuition; growing student debt (now estimated at $1.2 trillion nationally); the overuse of adjunct and part-time faculty; and cutbacks of student services, especially for first-generation and low-income students, are a few of the many issues higher education faces.