Sal Peralta: Oregon legislative review 2015

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Sal, while I agree with the tone of your comments regarding Oregon K-12, I am wondering where you got your information? I do agree that OEA has been very detrimental for students in Oregon K-12. It (OEA) is a self serving organization with little regard for what is best for Oregon education. That represents a primary function of unions. Their members have the highest priority at the expense of the host organization. The symbiotic relationship between OEA and the Oregon Democratic Party has been devastating for Oregon K-12.

1) You said, "Oregon is one of just four states that allow teachers to strike".

"Only 12 states allow their public school teachers to strike. They are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. In March, Wisconsin became the most recent state to prohibit teacher strikes, and fine school employees who do go on strike."

2) The latest information I have from NEA has Oregon ranked 33rd in "Per Capita Income" D-3, Page 26


3) Oregon 24th in K-12 funding . "PUBLIC SCHOOL REVENUE PER STUDENT IN
FALL ENROLLMENT, 2013–14" F-2, Page 39

4) Oregon 13th among states in "AVERAGE SALARIES OF PUBLIC SCHOOL
TEACHERS, 2013–14" C-11, Page 19


Scott Gibson

Sal, A very even-handed and erudite write-up, as always. I'm curious as to your take on the low-carbon emissions law, as I have heard arguments but little data about it. I've heard Democrats say that a gas tax would not be as effective for lowering carbon emissions as this law. But the Republicans cogently point out that the cost of the law puts nothing into the public coffers for needed road repairs, seismic upgrades, and bridge maintenance. At the moment I'm leaning toward the Republican point of view. A gas tax may not be quite as effective as this carbon emission law, but with a gas tax you get a twofer--lower fossil fuel use and vitally needed improvements to infrastructure. What's your take? Scott Gibson


Scott, I am wondering if you have a comment on my post above considering your position?

Scott Gibson

Kona, I don't know that much about comparative salaries and benefits (which have to be considered as a whole) for teachers across the country, so I am going to make this somewhat general. I am not anti-union, although I have seen excesses that are concerning. I would have to agree that the Oregon Democratic Party has not served as a brake on some of the more excessive tendencies of OEA. I would note the new law that parents need to be informed twice each year that they can opt their kids out of Common Core is an example. A very bad law that I believe originated with OEA. It is fine for employees to be represented by a union, but the districts and the legislature have a correspondingly higher responsibility to check any efforts to gain overly generous benefits, pay, or working conditions that place strain on limited resources. I think the Democratic Party needs to insist on more restraint. With no teacher union, it is too easy to have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude in the districts. But with unions, the districts can still come out on top if they deal respectfully, transparently, and honestly with the unions. Strikes are quite rare unless the districts don't deal with the unions on the up and up. Public opinion often goes against strikers if the public believes the district is being reasonable, and public opinion is a strong deterrent.

Sal Peralta

Kona - the statement about states allowed to strike came from press coverage in Willamette Week. I should have double checked it. The data was from last year's NEA assessment. I had not realized they had published a more recent one. Thanks for the correction.

Sal Peralta

Also, Kona - I use per the per capita investment in K-12 rather than funding per student enrolled, because I like to know whether spending is consistent with what people can afford relative to other states. Oregon has consistently spent a slightly greater amount on K-12 than one would expect based on per capita GDP.

Don Dix

"The passage of the carbon fuel standard was cited as a primary reason the Legislature failed to pass a transportation package to fix deteriorating state infrastructure."

Oregon implemented the first gas tax in 1919, 1 cent per gal. The feds didn't get involved until 1932. By that time, Oregon had already raised the tax 3 times to 4 cents/gal. 1 cent increments were passed beginning in 1933, 49, 67, 81, 84, 85, 86, and 87 (12 cents/gal.). 2 cent increases began in 1988 (14 cents/gal.) and 89, 91 (4 cents), 92, and 93 followed (24 cents/gal.). In 2011, the tax was raised 6 cents, to 30 cents/ gal. The original tax, and every increase was said to be necessary to keep infrastructure viable.

The low carbon standard could add as much as a dollar/gal. to the total. A 20 gal. fill-up would cost an extra $26 at the pump.

The question is -- up to present, where has all this revenue gone? Wasn't the tax supposed to keep the infrastructure up to snuff? The tax has tripled (3X) since 1985, and yet the legislature (read Dems) wants to add another $1/gal. to fix something that we (voters) were told would solve the problems just 4 short years ago (6 cent increase). Again, where did that money go?

If the legislature's low carbon pushers want to add possibly a dollar/gal., I think a valid explanation should be forthcoming to explain why in 2011, after a 6 cent increase promising to fix all, suddenly more revenue is needed just 4 short years later.

And Oregon's low carbon standard will make zero difference to CO2 numbers in the atmosphere, which, in itself, is neither a substantiated or proven 'warming hypothesis' in the first place.

Show me the money (or where it has gone)!


Thank you Sal, I'm certainly not going to quibble with the sentiment of your comments or your data. The numbers/data have been consistent for over two decades. I just wish there were more people aware of the problem. The economics of K-12 education have been carefully massaged by OEA and a lethargic citizenship has allowed free reign. Now we have a situation of among the highest costing k-12 employees in a state that is very average economically. The result is negotiated (over the decades) large class sizes, short school years, a backlog of deferred maintenance and poor student achievement.


Scott, you said, "I don't know that much about comparative salaries and benefits (which have to be considered as a whole) for teachers across the country".

You have illustrated a primary component of Oregon K-12 economics. You are not alone. Most (if not all) school board members and teachers do not understand why Oregon has very close to the largest class sizes and shortest of school years (and poorest of student academic achievement) of all states. Our teachers are fine and our students are not inherently "stupid". So what is the problem? We have chosen/negotiated to have relatively few teachers in exchange for among the highest costing teachers of all states.

The problem is that most school board members do not have a clue about how this has distorted Oregon K-12 student achievement during the past two decades. Coupled with the possibility of a striking district and OEA is in charge. If you would think about this, if Oregon would attempt to compensate our teachers similarly to the median state in salaries and benefits, what would happen? We would have a statewide strike that would shut down our school system. The problem is that we (school boards) have negotiated to this high level of compensation over two decades. Oregon is not a "median" nor average state economically, yet our K-12 teachers are among the most expensive of all states. The result is relatively very few teachers employed. We could hire more than 5,000 additional teachers statewide if compensation were to match the median state in teacher compensation.


Scott, you said and I agree, "the districts and the legislature have a correspondingly higher responsibility to check any efforts to gain overly generous benefits, pay, or working conditions that place strain on limited resources." That has not happened because of the fear of strikes and that no school board (the union will attack you personally) and the Oregon Legislature does not have the fortitude to go against OEA. That simple. Individual volunteer school boards have been no match for the career employees of OEA. It has been a "drip, drip" process over decades and here we are with our K-12 problems. This did not happen by accident.

Don Dix


Just a thought -- if it was known (by the OEA) that Kitz would attempt to scuttle the strike rules, there is at least an outside chance that the OEA was the narc that blew him up (or had a hand in it)!

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