By editorial board • 

Reps never seem to run short of bad ideas to weigh in Salem

Expanding Democratic dominance has made the Oregon Legislature increasingly efficient. The amount of mischief it used to take six months to assemble can be compressed into a single month, now that those pesky Republicans have been sufficiently marginalized.

The 2018 clunker of the year award should probably go to legislation making class sizes subject to bargaining at the negotiating table.

Oregon pours more money into education than most of its counterparts. But our state combines some of the larger class sizes with one of the shortest school years and lowest graduation rates.

That’s particularly troubling when you consider where the nation as a whole ranks in comparison to rival economic powers like China and Japan, which provide a much more expansive and rigorous experience for their students.

The plain truth is, there’s only so much money to go around. When you allocate a disproportionate share to one element, there isn’t enough left to do justice for others.

Already, the Oregon Education Association enjoys an enormous negotiating advantage when it goes up against individual school districts. That’s how pay and benefits swelled to unsustainable proportions in the first place.

Allowing the union to also bargain class size is the height of folly. It promises to further hamstring schools already having a hard time producing quality results.
Given finite resources, there are only two ways to reduce class sizes — commit less to compensation or further reduce an already abbreviated school year. And increasing the resources devoted to education means decreasing those allocated to vital competing causes like social services and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the Legislature is considering a bill barring the secretary of state and state treasurer from assigning designees to serve as advisory members of the state Board of Education.

Puzzled?

It seems Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, the first Oregon Republican elected to state office in decades, has given Portland gadfly Kim Sordyl a seat at the table. Annoyed at her persistent questioning, the board’s old guard is seeking a way to give her the boot.

There’s also the bill asking voters to break new ground by declaring health care a constitutional right in Oregon. The intentions may be good, but the result would likely be a torrent of litigation demanding taxpayers fully fund this new right for all in need.

And that’s just a taste.

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