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Oregon Education Association (OEA), Oregon PTA, AFT Oregon Release Decades of Disinvestment: The State of School Funding in Oregon

Over the course of the last two decades investment in Oregon’s public schools has declined to a point where independent rankings place Oregon schools near the bottom in the nation for school funding.

Download the report: Decades of Disinvestment: The State of School Funding in Oregon

“The statistics in the report are staggering, but I am not surprised,” says Reynolds school librarian Mark Hardin.  “I have been teaching more than 30 years, and over the course of my career, libraries have been all but obliterated.  It impacts student achievement—students need libraries and librarians. I don’t think a school is complete without us.”

The report includes county and district level data comparing class size, graduation rates and other points to state and national averages. In the Portland Public School District, for example, there are 21 students per teacher, which is 33 percent above the national average. Graduation rates in Reynolds School District are among the worst in the area, 22.7 percent below state graduation rate.  Per student spending in Multnomah county is 4.3 percent below the national average.

“When I look at the comparison between Salem, Massachusetts and Salem, Oregon, I can’t help but think we failing our children,” said Otto Schell, Oregon PTA’s legislative director. “To match what other states with better education outcomes are doing we need to stop the disinvestment and start funding our schools at a level we can be proud of.”

Prior to 1990 and the passage of Measure 5, Oregon ranked 15th in school funding. Unfortunately years of recession-related cuts, on top of decades of disinvestment, have taken a toll: instead of making public education a priority, Oregon has some of the largest classes, shortest school years and one of the lowest graduation rates in the country.

“We can improve outcomes for our students by bringing Oregon’s class sizes and instructional time up to the standards set by the rest of the county,” said Hanna Vaandering, an elementary physical education teacher and president of OEA. “What we can’t afford to do is stay on the same path that we have been on since Measure 5.”

Download the report: Decades of Disinvestment: The State of School Funding in Oregon