Governor takes education agenda to Legislature

Governor takes education agenda to Legislature

SALEM, Ore. - Governor John Kitzhaber took his education reform package to the legislature on Tuesday.

The Governor said big changes are needed to give Oregon kids a chance in a competitive world.

Under Kitzhaber's plan, the oversight for pre-kindergarten, K-12 and higher education would all fall under what is called the "Education Investment Board." It would be made up of the Governor and 12 people of his choosing, who must be approved by the Senate.

Laying out his agenda, the Governor asked lawmakers to change the focus from k-12 education to one that includes early childhood services, k-12 and post-secondary education and training. Kitzhaber says

"Although we spend about a billion dollars on kids zero through 5, we're not getting the results that we need," he said. 

The governor says 60 to 70 percent of the new jobs created in Oregon in the next decade will require at least an associate degree or a technical certificate. Kitzhaber said that means changes are in order.

"Clearly our current educational funding and governance system is broken and we need to fundamentally change it to meet the state's long-term economic and educational objectives."

Joining Kitzhaber at the Capitol were parents, teachers, school officials and business leaders.

The President of the Oregon Business Association, Duncan Wyse, gave the governor's plan a thumbs up. "If we do this we're going to see a dramatic increase in outcomes for our learners in Oregon."

Wyse said the change will better prepare students for citizenship and for the economy. "We're going to see more students with higher levels of learning."

Senate Republican leader Ted Ferrioli of John Day said there could be real wisdom in this new approach. "It's an unusual approach. It has an awful lot of potential to put resources where they need to be put."

If the bill is approved, the Education Investment Board would replace the current Board of Education and Board of Higher Education. The Governor says he wants the new board up and running by July 1st of 2012.