State must implement QEM and challenge 'No Child' law
September 24, 2006
Our greatest responsibility is to provide our children with the capacity to succeed in a changing world. Our children are our future; their promise depends upon a public school system that can teach critical thinking, social skills, civics and instills a work ethic that can sustain our community. Oregon can do better. We need to implement a reform agenda that can renew and improve our schools.
First, we must fully implement the Quality Education Model (QEM). Oregon has not sufficiently supported the bipartisan road map for reform we passed into law. Adequate funding is a requirement for the smaller class sizes, tailored flexibility for special-needs children and curricular consistency we need. QEM implementation must become a reality.
Second, we must collaborate with our friends and neighbors serving on school boards to develop growth-planning tools. There is far too much uncertainty in current planning. The Legislature must authorize system development charges (SDCs) for education. These funds will allow school districts to implement responsible growth-funded infrastructure strategies.
Third, Oregon must supplement reforms in the K-12 system with a robust work force-education-training continuum that connects K-12 programming to employment curriculum. Today's children are tomorrow's workers. We must recognize that our work force is dependent upon career long access to quality education and training opportunities.
Fourth, we must strengthen the fabric of our democracy. Oregon has the most complex system of self-government in human history. It is time we value citizenship as well as employment skills. Every high school senior should pass a citizenship test prior to graduation. Our children deserve a functioning government; they can only sustain what they understand.
Finally, Oregon must challenge the impossible demands and irrational penalties associated with the "No Child Left Behind" legislation. This package of unfunded mandates is a cancer threatening our community. As is, NCLB is a road map for the failure and eventual dismantling of our public schools. We need comprehensive accountability measurements based upon individual growth, not indices negotiated in a board room in Washington, D.C.
These proposals are offered as a beginning, not an end. Oregon has unlimited potential if we seize the opportunities before us. Our schools need structural reform. As an educator, a parent and candidate for senator, I am committed to making that reform possible. Together we can repair our schools and secure our future.
If you would like to discuss these or other issues, contact me.
Paul Evans of Monmouth is a candidate for state Senate District 10. Contact his campaign at (503) 365-0695 or www.paulevans2006.com.