Spring Cleaning & School Budgets: Can We Resist Blame and Take Action?

It’s spring term at Portland State University, and I’ve been feeling the itch to do some spring cleaning.  While I haven’t had the time to go through the dresser drawer full of children’s health records, photographs, and barrettes, I have done some spring cleaning of the way I think about my work.  And I’m finding ways to narrow focus in my goals when it comes to educating my students (and the public) about educational equity.  One of the top issues that I want to focus on in the upcoming months is having more discussions about and education on the state budget and school budgeting.  It’s not glamorous, but someone has to do it!

If you’re not up on the current conversations surrounding the cuts that have to be made to budgets in Oregon schools, catch up on your reading.  Here are a few recent articles that might be of interest:

Everyone is in an uproar about the cuts that will have to take place due to a significantly smaller than projected state budget.  Schools are being closed, teaching jobs are being cut, buildings remain unmaintained, and classrooms become more crowded with larger class sizes.  Some seek to blame teacher salaries and benefits (shouldn’t teachers be fairly compensated for the important work they do?), others point the finger at administration costs (check out the Open Books Project site to see that administration only accounts for 9% of the total school budget for Oregon), while still others say that schools have plenty of money but are merely spending it in the wrong places.

In the Tribune article titled “School Cuts Fuel UPSET Uprising,” Ben Cannon, Kitzhaber’s education advisor, is quoted as saying  “I found 400 emails into Kitzhaber related to wolves and cougars, and 12 related to education. I wish that was reversed.”  This is a call to action, people.  While teachers are driven to the edge of a strike and students take to the streets, where will you be?  These groups alone will not be loud enough and powerful enough without the rest of us joining in.

As I see it, it is our duty to fight for educational equity and fair and stable funding for ALL kids in Oregon.  Spring is here, and it’s time to clean house, to fight through the cobwebs and open the windows to let the fresh air in.  And what is the fresh air in this scenario?  Fresh air is tax reform for stable schol funding.  Fresh air is more community members coming together to speak out against more cuts to our schools.

Check back here in the next week for ideas about how to get more actively involved!

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