Son of Cim/Cam Coming Soon!

Last week Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo announced in a speech to Portland’s City Club that Oregon’s CIM and CAM programs should be chucked. Eight months earlier, in May, Castillo led the defense of CIM and CAM and convinced Senate Democrats to block passage of Rep. Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) House Bill 3162 which would have chucked CIM and CAM. Predictably, Oregon’s education elites and major newspapers sided with former television newsreader Castillo when she opposed elimination of CIM/CAM and praised her now that she advocates dumping it. So what’s the difference?

Could it be that HB 3162 was a Republican initiative and therefore “bad” and now Castillo’s speech is a Democrat initiative and therefore “good?”

Be that as it may, the death of CIM/CAM is long overdue. It is the penultimate fuzzy-headed, liberal boondoggle. It began without much thought in the waning days of the 1991 session as a gift from former Speaker of the House Vera Katz (D-Portland) in cooperation with Ira Magaziner, a fellow East Cost liberal elitist who deemed it necessary to instruct the “hicks” in Oregon about their cultural shortcomings. Like most such boondoggles, it began without knowing where it was going, without any direction on how to get there, and with no clue as to the costs that would be incurred along the way. It was just a splattering of cute phrases and lofty aspirations that exuded concern for “the chil-l-l-d-d-r-r-en-n-n.” But the liberals were in control and there was harmony, rhapsody, and a rush to hurry off to the next good deed. CIM/CAM became the playground of the education elites and the teachers unions. It was an excuse to spend more, work less and devote copious amounts of time to “training and professional development.” It fostered the next boondoggle, the Quality School Model, for financing schools at a level that would bankrupt the state.

Never mind that the teachers hated it, the students didn’t understand it and the parents were left wondering just why the education system continued to founder and decline. Never mind that despite assurances that there would be no extra cost attendant to CIM/CAM, (and no line item for it ever appeared in a legislative budget), Sen. Gary George, using data from the Legislative Fiscal Office, estimated CIM/CAM consumed about ten percent of the planning, administrative and classroom teachers time. Never mind that after a staggering delay in implementation, it was so out of touch with school curriculum that less than one third of the students taking the exam can pass it. Never mind that it was so pointless that neither universities nor employers gave it any credence. And never mind that the CIM (certificate of initial mastery) portion of the program was such a mess that they didn’t even try to implement the CAM (certificate of advanced mastery) portion.

And yet it survived for these fourteen years. It survived without ever producing a positive result solely on the ballyhoo that it put Oregon in the vanguard of education reform and would be the standard by which other states would guide their educational programs. But like Oregon’s vaunted land use planning process, no other state has ever implemented this train wreck and for good reason. Superintendent Castillo (and her predecessors) should have apologized for wasting the time of teachers and students for the last fourteen years. She should have apologized for wasting taxpayers money that could have been better spent in classroom teaching and delivery of critical curriculum. The elimination of CIM/CAM does not translate into a savings of $500M per year, as some would claim, it simply frees up that amount of classroom, training and administrative time to focus on the real educational needs of students. (There is probably some significant savings in Castillo’s state education office but since both the legislature and the education lobby refused to segregate and keep track of costs associated with CIM/CAM the amount of savings may never be known.)

It was a predictable result. Oregon’s schools are a monopoly and like other monopolies they have no way of determining whether their services are adequate or efficient. Like other monopolies, they create these artificial guidelines as a substitute for demonstrable performance. But unlike most monopolies where you can instantly see whether the telephone rings, or the lights stay on, or the furnace still works, the effects of these experiments on Oregon’s children won’t be known for years – and when it is known it will be too late to correct.

But there is a final rub in Superintendent Castillo’s remarks. She hasn’t abandoned this bone-headed idea completely; she just wants to start over with new performance measurements. So get ready. If Castillo and the education lobby have their way Oregon will pump another $500M per year into another decade long social experiment and another generation of children will be sacrificed on the altar of “education reform.”

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Posted by at 07:13 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • It must not be overlooked at Castillo’s press conference that she faulted the chief failure of CIM/CAM on the public not catching on to the program. So it is not the fact that CIM/CAM has not significantly increased test scores, is expensive, or that teachers and parents loathe it. Rather Castillo places the blame on parents for not appreciating their lofty liberal sophisticated edu-machine.

  • Marvin McConoughey

    The accusation that the public just doesn’t understand is part of the political game in Oregon. The truth is that no one has perfect understanding. We are allmoving into an imperfectly predicted future. However, I attended the legislative hearings that led up to CIM/CAM. The legislators made little effort to question spokespersons for CIM/CAM, gave Vera Katz a free ride, and generally shirked their legislative responsibilities to all Oregonians.

  • Re: new performance measurements
    JK:What about standardized tests from national vendors?

    JK: We can all hope that this will be the start of discrediting and dismanteling most of the harm that the bitch from New York did to Oregon and Portland. Goldshit too.

    *PS*: Can you make the type size on this page the same as on the front page, IE: readable instead of tiny.

    Why didn’t the above PS come out bold?

    Also can you separate the replys better.


  • Mike

    This reply isn’t specific to this post, just a general comment about what I see as a pervasive problem in political discourse these days (and probably many past days as well). And I think the authors of the main posts on this website do a pretty good job of avoiding this for the most part.

    If we want to get the issues that are important to us out into the mainstream consciousness in a positive way, we have got to stop bashing each other. I don’t care if you are as conservative or liberal as they come, if you use language that trashes the ideology of a big block of voters then you risk losing them immediately regardless of how strong your argument is. People will simply turn off or go on the defensive when they percieve an attack on their personal belief system EVEN WHEN THE ARGUMENT IS ROCK SOLID, its just human nature and I know everybody here does it/has done it in one way or another.

    But if we show a genuine interest in fixing the real problems plaguing this state like lack of accountability, lack of oversight, corrupt politicians, special interest influence, etc., to the benefit of all Oregonians and without the insulting language, people won’t put their blinders on and will be much more open to actually listen to different points of view. The problem is not conservatism or liberalism or some other ideology, the problem really is the fact that there is such a divide politically in this country that open-minded, intelligent people from across the spectrum aren’t getting together for open and honest debate about the issues. The bottom line is that people want honesty and integrity in their representatives and most people in this state will vote across party lines for a person they believe to be honest and genuine, rather than a questionable candidate in their own party.

    Cheers, Mike

  • Steve Schopp
    Educators Rob Students in Oregon
    Oregonian reporters mislead public

  • Tim

    No, Mike, the problem IS liberalism.

    Every half-baked, boneheaded, hyper-expensive and/or rights-stripping policy of the last 30 years in Oregon has come from the left. See the list psted by JK in the reply section of the Tuesday, December 13 post “We were Right All Along”.

    As to the assertion that D’s will cross party lines rather than vote for a questionable D candidate, it’s laughable. Witness the following incompetent/corrupt/criminal D’s currently “serving” our state:

    Bill Bradbury – election fraud
    Susan Castillo – totally unqualified slave to the teacher’s union
    David Wu – Rapist

    If I spent a couple of minutes racking my brains I could probably come up with more. Hell, I bet even Kelley Wirth would stand a fair chance of getting elected again. A few weeks in rehab, some mea culpa’s and back on the campaign trail.

    I love it when liberals whine about “the tone of the debate”; it’s usually right before they call Bush a Nazi.

  • Mike

    Hey Tim – Thanks for the interesting reply. If you believe in your heart that conservatism is best served by this style of rhetoric then its absolutely your duty to continue doing what you believe in. You seem to have applied a label to me which will probably prejudice you against anything I say, so I would respectfully suggest that you revisit and maybe you’ll catch the tone of my point.
    Cheers and have a very merry Christmas, Mike

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