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””rather 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