Oregon Education Reform

Article written by: Suzanne Penegor


Former Eugene mayor Jim Torrey spoke to the Lane Co. Rubicon Society on Feb. 14th regarding education and school reform issues in Oregon. Torrey said he enjoys working for kids as he did for Kidsports in Eugene, and continues to do so as a school board member in the Eugene area.

Torrey said he prefers nonpartisan politics and is genuinely concerned about Oregon schools. He feels it’s very unpopular now to discuss school closures in the Eugene area but because of the changing demographics of students and dropping enrollments–school officials will have to start addressing the issue sooner than later. He said recently there was a huge turnout out to protest the possible closure of Harris School.

Torrey explained how school boards tend to have a bunker mentality toward the public although they do care about education. He said school boards prefer to do much of their business behind closed doors.

Torrey believes education is vital to a good work force and economic stability in Oregon, especially in today’s society. He went on to say Oregon students will face new graduation requirements in 2014 in order to obtain a high school diploma, which will reflect the changing job requirements today. Torrey further stated how Washington State also tried a similar change in their graduation standards for 2008 but they were unable to meet their goals.

Torrey questioned whether test-taking is a true test of intelligence and learning. He noted that skill and vocational training are areas in which Oregon schools could improve.
Torrey said the difference between US schools and education and that of other countries is that a hallmark of US education is the creativity it promotes. He also said Oregon students need basic literacy, which is the foundation of education.

While some Oregon schools are perceived as better than others now, all Eugene schools should provide quality education. In response to a question, Torrey said the Eugene school board doesn’t want to tackle the school choice issue now. Cost is a major factor in that decision.

Torrey expressed he is not anti-union, but he is concerned about the overwhelming political clout of the teachers union, the Oregon Education Association. He said those organizations influence elections by supporting specific candidates, and also tries to dictate how Oregon education should be”‚ÄĚrather than parents themselves.

Jim Torrey is making another run for the top city position. Torrey announced earlier this week that he was considering another run for mayor. Records now show that Torrey filed the necessary paperwork Wednesday with the city of Eugene to begin his candidacy. And he is expected to make an official announcement March 12th.

To hear Jim Torrey’s opinion on Education reform please visit the Rubicon Website by clicking on the following link: Education Reform

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    What good is creativity if you can’t add or subtract, read or write, understand our government, deal with personal finance, speak correctly, work hard, etc.?

  • Alan

    I didn’t see much details offered by Torrey. We could use more solutions.

  • anon

    Boy, if that is all he said, that is one boring speech. Why was it about “school reform?” What reform idea did he discuss? Apparently nothing.

    A real snoozer.

  • dian

    When I was in early grade school, the schools also experimented on us kids. There were two first grade classes, one class was taught sight reading and the other class, mine, was taught phonics. The sight reading class had very few who could read proficiently, the phonics class had very few who were not proficient in reading. I was so fortunate to be taught phonics.

    I’m a firm believer that if you can read, the sky is your limit. If you cannot read, how can you learn to do anything. Reading is elementary for math, history, any class being taken. If you can read, the world is yours, no doubt about it.

  • Tim Trickey

    Becuz I wint to Eugene area’s publik skools, I kan reed, butt I’se still has trubbel wif mafth.

    Seriously, basic literacy is fundamental, and I applaud him (Torrey) for the courage to confront the regimented, stratified, “one-size-fits-all” approach to public education.

    The OEA is the main reason our schools are declining. Not the individual teachers, mind you, but the collective body who stands for resisting any reform that requires accountability for performance and doesn’t involve a “no-strings-attached” pay raise for teachers.

    The public education system needs competitive and creative schools that will challenge the creativity of students and require discipline beyond the confines of politically-correct, union-run mandates.

  • Rick Hickey

    Lets not forget the $160,000,000.00 we are Wasting on Bilingual programs, every year and growing big time.

    With a 80-50% Failure rate after 1/2 a Decade in an ESL class, too much money is going to a group that has a 1 in 2 chance of dropping out, while everyone else is wondering where the money went for the other kids. Example is the T.A.G. kids, who will graduate, from College.

    Solution? English immersion for a fraction of the cost & time.

    True “Education Reform” would include this info as most of the Schools in Oregon failing No Child Left Behind are the ESL Schools & NCLB requires proficiency within two years, not 5.
    Thanks to people such as Trickey & Sizemore, we can vote Yes on immersion, this November.
    Of course, unless you want a permanent underclass of illiterates.

    • Ted Kennedy’s Liver

      ESL is nothing but an employment program for teachers. When I went to elementary school in the 60’s we had european refugee students who would show up in class speaking almost no english and who would be proficient within a couple of months. Most of their parents forbade them from speaking their native language even in the home knowing they had to learn english to integrate into their new society. Our current crop of Immigrants will spend the rest of their lives in menial jobs unless they wise up. But, then again, maybe that’s what the political left wants – a permanent underclass to clean their toilets and who is dependent on them for largesse,

      • Torrey and education reform fans unite

        Education is important for employers as well as those who want to be successful in life. The basics are important as well as computer skills and trade skills that help grads compete in a global market or go on to college. Torrey is an excellent person to speak out about these issues given his background and folks in Eugene are glad he’s back running for mayor again to give local government some badly needed leadership re our schools and other issues that impact kids and adults. Torrey’s concern for quality education isn’t a snoozer. It’s something that voters and taxpayers should demand for their tax dollars.

        • dian

          You can’t even get computer skills nor much for trade skills if you are not able to master the three R’s. That must be the first foundation. You cannot learn to read by memorizing words. You must learn and understand what makes the word.

          Do they still teach phonics and sentence structure in school any more?

  • tom d

    “Torrey said the difference between US schools and education and that of other countries is that a hallmark of US education is the creativity it promotes.”

    This ridiculous statement negates any insight he otherwise had to offer.

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