Dems OK with Oregon’s 3rd-largest class size in the nation


by NW Spotlight

Republicans say K-12 budget sells students short

Yesterday’s Oregonian PolitiFact rated a May 17, 2013 statement by the Oregon PTA that “Oregon has the third largest class size in the nation” as TRUE.

Also yesterday, Senate Republicans in the Ways and Means Committee voted “no” on the K-12 budget bill brought forward by Democrats on Friday morning because it leaves Oregon students stuck in underfunded and inadequate classrooms.

Here’s the rest of the press release from the Senate Republican Office:

Republicans believe this legislature has the ability to do more for students, with a compromise PERS reform proposal that would allow for substantially more investments in classrooms, and better outcomes for students.

“This budget sells our students short, and I’m not willing to do that,” said Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River). “We can and must do more. Having the willingness to make larger reforms to Oregon’s broken retirement system would enable this legislature to make big, game-changing investments in our classrooms. This budget doesn’t have to be this small.”

Oregon’s leading education advocacy groups have called the $6.55 billion proposed by Democrats an inadequate school budget. The coalition, including the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon School Boards Association, Confederation of School Administrators, Oregon Parent Teacher Association, and Oregon School Employees Association, said such a budget means that schools will “face another round of painful cuts.”

“Put simply, $6.55 billion is not enough for our schools, and not enough to change education outcomes for students,” said Senator Jackie Winters (R-Salem).  “This budget should be making new investments in schools by adding back teachers, reducing classroom sizes and lengthening school days. This budget might maintain the status quo for some districts, but the status quo is clearly not working, and it isn’t good enough for our kids.”

The results of Oregon’s chronic underfunding of education are well documented. The Oregonian Friday morning verified that Oregon has the 3rd largest class sizes in the nation. Education Week has stated that Oregon is 46th for K-12 achievement. A survey by COSA confirms that Oregon per-pupil spending is 7% less than the national average.

Republicans proposed a compromise PERS proposal on Thursday, hoping Democrats could join them in supporting $1.4 billion in reforms. While such reforms would not entirely fix the PERS problem, they would allow for a K-12 budget close to $7 billion, and allow school districts to make major investments in teachers and school days.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education, Oregon Senate, PERS, State Budget | 37 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • ardbeg

    Now every political party can lay claim to the statement “but it’s for the children”. Republicans have reached into the Dems bag-o-tricks.

    • guest

      You’ve now opined up what’s under your skin for all to lay in some salt upon your fornication.

      • ardbeg

        Do you just sit in your mothers basement with a stiffy waiting for me to post something so you can reply?

        • guest

          That pencil in your pocket for buggering conservatives is ‘leading’ you to perdition.

          Of course, your stubborn conehead will be done and right minded Wil (below) as usual, scorned.

    • JacklordGod

      Actually you are right here. Throwing money at it for the children sure hasn’t worked. It is shameful Republicans are doing this as well. We need to start looking at the basic question of why our schools suck when we are spending more on them than virtually everyone on the planet and still getting third world results.

      We spend the same on schools as we do the military. Military spending might be wastefull, but no one would argue ours is not the best in the world. For the same money we have a third world school system. Time to start asking where the hell the money is going for such poor results.

  • JacklordGod

    This is insanity. Do any of these idiots ver bother to use a calculator?

    $6.55B for a school population of 564,000 (source ), That works out to $11,600 per student.

    With an average class size of 24 ( ) that works out to $278k per class room. High pay for a teacher with a masters degree is about $55k, so go big and say that teacher costs you $90k, Where the hell is the other $180k going?

    Don’t tell me it costs that much to maintain the building, because I could buy a new one every year for a class that size at $180k.

    Is there anyone, anyone at all who will actually ask the question where the hell the money is going? Or are even Republicans in the throw money at it mode of solving problems now?

    $11,600 is way more than enough to educate a child in Oregon. You sure as hell could throw the kid in private school for that. It’s time to start demanding results for our money as well as accountability for where it is going. At over eleven thousand dollars per head with a drop out rate that is astronomical, we need accountability not just throwing more money at the problem.

    • wil

      My understanding is that a large portion of that 11,600 per student is paying PERS retirement for past teachers. With a life expectancy of almost 80, and an average retirement age of about 55, PERS is paying the typical retiree for about 25 years. If they worked in the school district for 35 years, there is no way they could have contributed enough to even fund half of that. That is not their fault of course, don’t want to terminate people after their allotted retirement money runs out, but when you are promised retirement at or near working salary and no reductions ever, either you are going to go bankrupt or have to break your promise, and that is were we are at. Most increases are to pay for PERS promises that never should have been made.
      In addition, part of that 11,600 is going into special programs mandated by the US Department of Education. Mandates to enforce Title 1 (for disabled students) Title 2 (for low income students) and Title 9 (for gender equity in sports and other areas) do not usually come with the funding needed to implement them. But when budgets are cut, Federal law makes some of these areas untouchable. While a classroom teacher may make 55K and have benefits of about 40K, in a Special Ed class, ELL class, or others, the teacher-student ratio is much much lower, or should be to be effective. Because of this, while the average student cost is 11,600 per year, the ELL and Special Ed kids are much higher per pupil than this average and the general ed kids are much much lower.
      There are many other mandates we the public never see. From state or federal requirements to “green up” older public school buildings or meet green requirements for new construction, to oversight on buildings on everything from mandated accessibility and asbestos codes, every time any work is done at a school site, a whole raft of expensive regulations is kicked in, making construction or repair much more expensive than a business or house renovation. Mandates to offer certain classes, or use certain tests, mandates that all teachers have x hours of planning time, new security regulations and personnel, the list goes on and on. And it isn’t that these things are “bad” just that they are expensive. I teach at a private school and we educate for less than 5000 per student per year because our teachers make less but also because we are freed from many of these expensive regulations and mandates (at least for now).
      I would love to see a cost benefit analysis for every mandate or regulation that comes from DC or Salem bureaucrats, an accounting of per pupil spending that categorizes kids with special needs and funds them differently, real and intelligent PERS reform so that so much of the Public Schools money isn’t paying for past benefit. It would be interesting to see how much per pupil actually makes it into the typical classroom, and how much we could increase that with some common sense reforms.

    • ardbeg

      Your calculations are too simplistic. Just a couple of things. Central admin (not building principals etc..) account for about 5% of a budget in every district so in a small district like mine; that has a 30 million dollar budget, central office takes 1.5 million right off the bat. Counselors, kitchen staff, janitors, maintenance, transportation, special ed, ell, etc take more off the top. Technology: equipment purchases and staff all cost money and none are actually in a classroom with kids. Throw in extra-curricular which is not covered by participation fees and subsidized by the district and there you go. Charter/private schools do not have many of those costs yet still charge more.

      • JacklordGod

        Actually your argument is simplistic, since you don’t really calculate anything, you just list a bunch of stuff and say “well there ya go”.That’s simplistic.

        Fact is if you have a teacher who costs 90k and an overhead cost of 180k that would tell anyone running a business you have a severe overhead problem.

        Charter and private schools do not have “many of these costs”? What costs are those? Again, you are using simplistic “I say it, so it is true” reasoning.

        Fact is, Charter and private schools on average cost less per student and deliver vastly better results. Frankly home schooling delivers vastly better results as well.

        Public schools by any measure are our most expensive per pupil form of education and the least effective at the same time. Private schools, charter schools, home schooling all of them produce better students, lower drop out rates and do so at lower cost per pupil.

        Add that all up and as you say “well there ya go”

        • ardbeg

          I’ve done all the ‘calculating’ for you before but just to refresh your memory I’ll do a quick one in case your own calculator is broken. Using my local district again to find central office cost: 5% of $37 million=1.9 million right of the top.

    • ardbeg

      SSD $37,000,000 budget and 5100 students=$7254 per student

      • JacklordGod

        Yep, we are doing the statewide average here, that’s the Sherwood district number. Please don’t get into an argument about the spending per pupil, it is established at the figure I quoted. Thanks

        • ardbeg

          You should be asking if Districts like Sherwood, Newberg, Tigard, Sandy……actually all schools except Portland, Salem and your stomping grounds Eugene can do it for 7k. What the hell are those 3 districts doing that it costs them almost twice per student and raises the state average to what it is.

    • ardbeg

      You could ask the same questions about health care costs but you only seem interested in PERS related issues and let others off the hook. Why? In the US we have the most expensive heath care costs but not the best health care: just like education. Why do you and other neo-cons only seems to care about the one? That’s right, it doesn’t fit the agenda of Mondays=PERS, Tuesday=unions, Wednesday =guns, Thursday=God Friday=global warming……etc.

      • JacklordGod

        We are talking about the school budget. If you can’t stay focused on that then perhaps this isn’t the forum for you.

        This lame liberal dodge of “I can’t win this argument so let’s change the argument to one I think I can win” really never works. It just makes you look uncoordinated in your thinking.

        If you cannot address the topic at hand, then perhaps you need to re think if you really have much of anything at all to say in the first place.

        Once again – we are talking about school funding. Try and address that. and don’t veer off on wild tangents as you seen wont to do.


        • ardbeg

          Once again you assume. Unlike neo-cons I can ‘focus’ on the big picture and multitask (you should try it). I’m just amazed that you neo-cons will have 2 PERS/school cost posts a week where the same people (including myself) make exactly the same comments week after week after week after week………yet you ignore the same issues else where

          • guest

            Whuff, what a load left wing borscht with michael moore than a twist of swill and overly fermented cabbage and dour dream!

  • Greta

    Just pass a levy – Beaverton just did, even though WE PAY ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

    • JacklordGod

      You do, in fact, pay more than enough already. We pay roughly the same for education as we do for national defense. Does that mean our defense budget is too low? Not at all. But the fact of the matter is however much waste there is in defense, for all that money we get the best armed force the world has ever known. I mean we have air craft carriers by the sack load all over the place. Submarines? We have a hell of a lot of those as well, and they are really cool.

      And for that same amount of money we get an education system that is the laughing stock of the industrialized world.

      We consistently rank in the top three or four countries in per pupil spending. Think we rank in the top three or four in education performance? Not on your life.

      Remember the Sequester? The White House put up a little calculator so you could see where your tax money went to. I put in my wife and my combined income. Guess what, the amount that went to defense was about 75% of our property tax bill. That property tax bill goes almost entirely to schools so, you guessed it, I am spending as much on schools as I am on national defense. The difference is, I get a first rate national defense for that money, and third world level schools.

      Schools are getting as much as the military – The old bumper sticker “Imagine if the navy had to run a bake sale to buy a battle ship and schools had all the money they need” has come true. Our schools still suck. This is not a money [problem.

      • ardbeg

        “This lame con dodge of “I can’t win this argument so let’s change the argument to one I think I can win” really never works. It just makes you look uncoordinated in your thinking.

        If you cannot address the topic at hand, then perhaps you need to re think if you really have much of anything at all to say in the first place.

        Once again – we are talking about school funding. Try and address that. and don’t veer off on wild tangents as you seem to want to do.” (I fixed a couple of your typos)

        We are talking school budgets not Defense! Right? Not sequester! Right? How spending on defense/sequester has any connection to schools is only a connection you could make to convince yourself you make sense.

        “Our schools still suck. This is not a money [problem.”

        Your partly right but also mostly wrong. Sherwood, L.O, West Linn, Sandy, Glenco…….don’t suck. They are good schools. The question is why the 3 big districts PPS, Salem and Eugene schools suck and suck up all the money? I know you like to generalize the performance of PPS to the entire state of Oregon but that is bad reasoning.

        It’s not a money problem!? Well I’ll agree it’s not a budget spending problem. Sherwood and many other schools get it done for 7+k a year and that seems reasonable. You like comparisons so here is one; take a 7 year old and pay minimum wage to watch that 7 year old for 7 hrs a day for 180 days a year and that cost is over 11k. It’s not a money problem? How motivated are some kids to complete HS when they know that they can’t afford college (many countries offer free college same as HS) The US also ranks 2nd in the number of children in US schools that are poor. How many other school systems educate the number of second language learners the US does? How many handicapped? How many poor?

        It’s too simplistic to look at a couple of charts that compare $$’s to test and make a conclusion. It is a much more complicate issue but you take the easy way and look at a couple of graphs and think you have it all figure out. Simplistic should be your middle name.

        Your right about one thing, private schools should be able to do it cheaper. They don’t have the same clients and they have less expenses like no transportation department. I’ve given you a comprehensive list in the past and I am not going to repeat that again. But, I will give one example: OES is $25,789 a year and if your out of state and boarding your kid then its $50,709. Hum???? Oes costs are in line with Jesuit, Catlin Gable and many others. Some lesser know private schools in the Portland area are even more. Go figure huh!

        • ardbeg

          Here is the OES tuition page just in case you were wondering.

          Marist (your neck of the woods) is only 10k but again; not the same diversity of students and not the same expenses. Actually the cost per student for public schools is looking like quite the bargain.

          • ardbeg


            Just in case you wanted proof to my “the US educates more children in poverty” statement.

          • guest

            You can plead a horse to water but it won’t make a lick of difference whether the horse’s arse is kicked, shoved or whatever to make it drink.

            US children are being shilled by what’s left of US into thinking every bloomin’ thing out there is an entitlement.“`Hogwash! Time to reel in all the superfluous freebies and be instructing these innocents some common sense attending sum facets life. At lease one in particular …


            and it being past time for sitting in their widdle assets – and, show more intentional fortitude rather than play with aps their appeasers patronize and socialize them with.

          • ardbeg

            Ok, I’ll bite. After all the jibberish, Gaelic and insults are you really trying to communicate? I’ll give it a shot. and I’ll even partly agree with you. My kids, my friends kids, and all the assorted friends of friends of theirs are pretty awesome (wow! haven’t used that word in 40 years) but I do know a few who have figured out how to abuse the system and do as little as possible to get by. I don’t think their is anything I can do to ‘fix’ them, All I know is my kids know they have to earn what they get. The majority of the 20-30 year old’s I know are outstanding. The challenge is to get those who aren’t pulling their weight to start, and that doesn’t mean just getting rid of programs that help people who have a honest short need for assistance.

          • ardbeg


            Just in-case you lost faith in ALL youth in america, ther is hope. Not a proper salute but an A for effort in my book!

          • ardbeg
          • guest

            Ardbeg, IMO, you still sound (off) like a progressive (oxymoron) for any EDU ‘because’ and their ‘organized’ cohorts that ‘$eize’ their rites as an unchallengeable domain. Nuts!

            LO, not aware of your virtual-virtuous age, yet if you ‘experienced’ the mid century PPS K-12 cost-effective era – you might be able to ascertain the enormous cost differential attending the superfluous addenda of pc bovine ‘scatologlies’ foisted on taxpayers today – compared to the practical common $ense appliques of yesterday.

            OIW, like PERS, the attendant costs are over the top, unsustainable – and I hope your gripe-way is delivered a load of common sense to dig into.

            TMI? a K-12 classmate of mine, does the same years with PPS as I bearing a skilled private sector resume’.

            Bottom line, this person receives twice my annuity, plus social security along with COLA, plus exemption from the Oregon State Income Tax – and I get numb other than being a native Oregon fixed income taxpayer being forever taxed into asinine-ity. Gore figure you public sector aristocrat!

          • guest

            Yea, yea, too much Norm Crosby, but so are the soaring costs of K-12 public education and beyond.
            Too many six figure incomes and bennies being spent for too many administrators and organized levels of public schooling short on respect for the taxpayers who pay for their lifestyle.

            And no, I’ve not forgotten the cursing and swearing teachers, el.g., Sandy School District who behave badly like their gotta have it their way ILWU counterparts. For shame!

  • Sally

    I have 28 students in my classroom, which is ridiculous. How am I am supposed to teach that many at once?
    Shame on Oregon. We need smaller classes for the children.

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