Shoring up our education investments is a key purpose of solving Oregon’s fiscal crisis. Education is a vital foundation for the success and well-being of Oregonians, their communities, and the Oregon economy. In recent decades, needed investments in education have often been shortchanged because of Oregon’s unreliable fiscal structure, characterized by unsustainable costs and an unstable revenue system. This has had a detrimental impact on education opportunity and attainment for Oregon learners.
Strategic Investments Can Make a Big Difference
The Fiscal Initiative aspires to generate ample and stable funding so Oregon students can achieve greater success. An important part of that aspiration is freeing up funding to make additional strategic investments where there are opportunities to make a big difference in student progress. If we can produce these extra funds and apply them as envisioned here, we can raise education attainment, enrich the lives of Oregonians, boost the economy, and realize downstream, fiscal benefits. The education investments that we favor align with the Oregon Business Plan’s three main priorities: to significantly grow jobs, to increase per capita income, and to reduce poverty.
We’re Looking at a Long Horizon and Targeting High Returns
An education task force of business leaders and stakeholders is currently working with educators and policy makers to shape a proposal for additional strategic education investments above current service levels in the state General Fund budget in a 10-year framework that includes the present biennium going out to 2025-27. Investments envisioned by the task force will target high-return priorities in the coming biennium likely to improve learners’ prospects of success. Investment priorities will undoubtedly evolve in succeeding biennia. Over the time frame envisioned, these investments should fuel Oregon’s economy, raise incomes, narrow inequities, and disrupt the cycle of poverty that afflicts too many families and communities.
Once these proposals are vetted in public meetings planned across Oregon and adopted by the Business Plan Steering Committee, they will be added to this website, presented at the December Oregon Leadership Summit and advocated in the 2019 Legislature as part of the larger fiscal reform plan.
Those investments will be based on several general principles:
- Today’s young learners must have not only the knowledge, but also the adaptability to navigate successfully as job holders, family members, and citizens in a world of change we can’t even imagine today.
- This implies the need to scale student-centered learning models in order to widely improve the student learning experience and the way that teaching and learning occur. Student-centered approaches offer students not only the opportunity to develop strong academic knowledge and cognitive skills, but also occupational awareness and aspirations, collaborative capability, and greater agency and adaptability.
- Investments must have a strong equity lens. It is time to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, which is trapping far too many Oregonians. Equity and inclusion for students of color and low-income Oregonians is fundamental.
- All students should have the opportunity to fill high-wage, high-demand jobs, many especially related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Smart Career Technical Education (CTE) and STEM investments will help employers fill those jobs with Oregonians.
- Stabilizing Oregon’s fiscal health is essential to education investment. Roller coaster funding over the economic cycle greatly damages the ability of schools to serve students. For example, we need to ensure stable funding during recessions by accumulating sufficient reserves.