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OEIB Plans Statewide Public Meetings on Education

January 17, 2012

BEAVERTON, Ore. - The Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) is asking parents and teachers to bring their opinions to a series of upcoming meetings. The board is charged with creating a new plan and budget to improve education in Oregon, and hiring a new Chief Education Officer to carry it out.

Hanna Vaandering, with the Oregon Education Association, is the only K-12 teacher on the board. She says they've discussed not only how children learn, but the factors outside of school that can hold them back.

"It's not easy sometimes to talk about poverty. And until we address this with our families, and make sure that we're putting into place a program that helps these students be successful, we will not be able to reach our 40-40-20 goal."

That state goal is that 40 percent of Oregonians will have earned bachelor's degrees; 40 percent will have post-secondary or associate degrees; and 20 percent will have high school diplomas or the equivalent, by 2025.

Margarett Peoples of Portland is a special education teacher who plans to attend. Her view is that the current system is focused too much on test scores. She says kids, parents and teachers are frustrated that schools have cut many programs and activities, and she thinks the board needs to hear those frustrations.

"It's not just about the teacher and what goes on in a classroom. It's about parent involvement, community involvement, and resources. So, everybody should be involved. Even if you don't have kids, you need to be involved."

Not everyone is convinced that a statewide board is the right way to go to reform education, says Otto Schell, a parent and Oregon Parent-Teacher Association member.

"There's a lot of concern being expressed about the distancing that's occurring when you go to a board, or to an appointed official. Where's the recourse? Where's the opportunity for accountability? Because just like we're expecting a high level of accountability with a student, I think we should have that same level of accountability with public officials who make policy."

The board's priorities this year are to hire the Chief Education Officer, and to create new standards for preschool learning.

Important Note: Late Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 17), the first public meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather. It was set to take place at PCC's Rock Creek Campus in Beaverton. The OEIB says it will be rescheduled. For meeting dates and places, see the OEIB website. Click on "Public Outreach Meetings."

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR