OBI’s members rely on the effectiveness of the state’s public education system, from pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education. For Oregon’s economy to continue its recovery from the COVID pandemic and subsequent challenges, the state must help students regain pandemic-related learning losses and fully fund need-based aid programs for students in post-secondary programs. Legislation that creates new programs or provides additional funding must include accountability measures to ensure that spending improves educational outcomes. Further, Oregon must think creatively about how best to train and deploy the workforce of today and tomorrow. It is not enough to simply put more money into a system. We must ensure that the system is collaborative, effective, streamlined, and rooted in the needs of both workers and employers.
Post-Secondary Success: Oregon employers depend on our state’s public education system to produce a prepared workforce. The state should maintain thoughtful investments in our higher education institutions and need-based aid programs. Before spending on new projects, Oregon must prioritize the use of current resources to increase funding to post-secondary institutions.
OBI supports the development of postsecondary options that provide credentialing and training to prepare Oregonians for employment. These include the removal of barriers to transferring credits earned in high school to four-year colleges and universities, especially through career and technical education programs of study. OBI also supports legislation that would help align credit options in a manner that reduces student debt.
Workforce Development: Oregon businesses in all sectors face workforce shortages. OBI supports incentivizing public-private partnerships to develop workforce and job readiness training that meets current and future economic needs.
Child Care: OBI supports easing the path to certification for providers. To develop a scalable and sustainable program that expands access to child care, Oregon also should explore best practices in other states, including incentives for cost-sharing and public-private partnerships.
Transparency and Accountability: To increase accountability and transparency, OBI supports the enhanced use of mechanisms to track spending across the education system. Every dollar should be accounted for and tied to measurably improved outcomes for Oregon’s students.
Prioritize Education Stability: Stabilizing the entire education continuum must be a priority in every budget cycle. The state’s budget writers should focus on maintaining critical programs and avoid launching new programs that divert resources from existing programs with a demonstrated record of success. When making budget decisions, meanwhile, legislators must evaluate existing programs to determine their effectiveness. Such rigorous evaluation can identify underperforming programs, leading to cost savings and good governance.
Equity and the Digital Divide: OBI supports legislation that strengthens distance learning programming, including public-private partnerships that help connect marginalized students and their teachers. Our education system continues to underserve minority communities, and OBI supports programs to close achievement gaps.
Student Success Act: OBI supports legislation that ensures appropriate oversight of Student Success Act (SSA) expenditures and holds the Department of Education and school districts accountable for meeting stated goals and outcomes. Any amendment to testing and other accountability measures should track student and teacher progress in order to keep programs on schedule and increase graduation rates. When possible, school districts should use SSA funds to increase access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and CTE (career and technical education) programs as well as financial literacy education. OBI strongly supports innovative accountability measures for districts included in the SSA.
Continuation of CTE/STEM Policies: OBI supports the continuation of CTE/STEM policies that include but are not limited to, weighted funding, continued funding for revitalization grants, teacher licensure pathways, regional hubs, and course equivalency standards.
Chris Minnich, NWEA
Lori Olund, Miles Fiberglass & Composites