Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Community college tuition waiver bill moves forward

Statesman Journal
June 30th, 2015

A year from now, recent Oregon high school graduates who maintain a 2.5 GPA, and who accept available state and federal grants, could be eligible for a tuition waiver at an Oregon community college.
A bill that passed the Joint Committee on Ways and Means on Monday would allow qualifying students to receive a waiver of their tuition through the Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC).
The original language of SB 81 struck discord among community college leaders and associations, who contended that the bill was impractical because there was not enough infrastructure or funding to serve the additional students the program would bring in.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Senate OKs immigrant student aid bill

Register Guard
June 29th, 2015

Some Oregon students living in the United States without legal permission could qualify for state financial aid under a measure advanced by the state Senate Thursday, despite criticism that the state can’t afford the additional grants.
Portland Democratic Sen. Michael Dembrow, the bill sponsor, said it creates a path to college for students who already are part of the state’s education system.
“Against great odds, they’ve done what it takes to get through high school, and are the first in their family to attempt higher education. They are exactly the kind of kids we should be investing in,” Dembrow said.
Opponents have argued that the grant program is already under­funded and doesn’t meet the needs of resident students.
An analysis from the non­partisan Legislative Fiscal Office said about 1,000 additional students every year could qualify for state aid under the bill. It concluded that without additional funds to the grant program, the proposal could make the awards slightly more competitive and possibly even skew the grants toward the new student population.

Governor showed courage in signing test opt-out bill (OPINION)

June 26th, 2015

Gov. Kate Brown showed great leadership this week when she signed important legislation to create the Student Assessment Bill of Rights, which will engage students in their own learning. House Bill 2655 protects and expands the rights of our students and their parents as we all try to navigate the educational waters, now muddied not just by hours — but days upon days — of standardized tests each year (twice as many now as there were in 2002).
HB2655 creates a path for Oregon to build a system of assessment that treats children as they ought to be treated — real human beings who need to be nurtured. Students and parents — not businesses or corporate-sponsored foundations — are at the center of this bill, which is predicated on the idea that students should be engaged in their learning and that good education inspires students to follow their natural curiosity and their imagination.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A turning point for Oregon schools

Statesman Journal
June 26th, 2015

A recent study shows that Oregon ranks 38th in student performance and 39th in education funding. That’s not good enough.
More students should be graduating, and all should achieve more in math, reading, writing and science. But what will it take to reach a 100 percent graduation rate?
First, we need to understand why students drop out. Back in 2010, Gladstone Schools surveyed 52 dropouts to ask why they did not finish school. What we discovered is how complicated life is for students living on the edge.
Neglect, domestic abuse, mental illness, foster care and poverty. Divorced parents, parent incarceration, homelessness and family members battling addiction. Most dropouts we interviewed were coping with multiple issues. We cannot simply wish away the resulting impacts to education, health and the workforce. We need to take action.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Suspend the Kicker

Willamette Live
June 24th, 2015

There is a reason that Oregon is the only state in the nation that rebates surplus tax collections to citizens. It’s a bad idea.
The “kicker” was a bad idea 37 years ago when it was first enacted by the Legislature and it’s a bad idea today. What many other states do with their surplus, and what we should do with ours, is to save it for a rainy day.
Rainy days always come, especially in Oregon, which has one of the most volatile tax systems in the country, one that is especially sensitive to economic downturns.
Like the last time the kicker kicked.
It was in 2007, on the eve of the Great Recession. Taxpayers received a $1.1 billion kicker just before the bottom fell out of the state and national economy and the state budget. The next few years saw huge cuts to school funding, to higher education funding and to other needed services. Higher education funding still has not recovered nearly a decade later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gov. Brown signs Student Assessment Bill of Rights

Statesman Journal 
June 23rd, 2015

Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that would require school districts to inform parents of public school students of their rights to opt out of standardized tests.
HB 2655, also called the Student Assessment Bill of Rights, passed the Oregon Senate June 11 after it generated a good deal of public testimony from educators, parents, students and advocates.
The bill enables parents to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced assessment for any reason and requires that districts inform them of that right.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium was administered for the first time in Oregon public schools for the first time this year. It assesses students on the common core, which are learning goals adopted by the state in 2010. The test replaced the Oregon Assessment on Knowledge and Skills and is said to be more difficult and takes longer for students to complete.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Growing Pains: State Tries To Expand Rural College Credit Program

June 18th, 2015

The state has spent nearly $2 million to replicate Eastern Promise. It’s a collaboration between eastern Oregon K-12 schools and higher education to get more students to college or into career training.
The idea is to bring together universities, colleges and K-12 schools to do three things: “To increase access for students to college credits, and to help create college-going cultures, and to align curriculum between high schools and colleges,” said Hilda Rosselli with the Oregon Education Investment Board.
Eastern Promise offers college credits in rural high schools, for things like native Spanish-speaking ability or college-level coursework. There’s a program in the lower grades to encourage grade schoolers to start thinking early about what it would be like to go to college.

Teacher-led protest against Common Core testing picks an unlikely target

June 22nd, 2015

Teachers and parents who hate Common Core testing and decry what they say is a corporate hijacking of the U.S. school curriculum to protest Tuesday at a downtown Portland testing conference.
But, in a twist, they will be picketing a conference that's all about subverting the importance of standardized tests by empowering teachers to create their own tests to drive what happens in class.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Compensation 101

Register Guard
June 16th, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, Yale University filed a federal tax return showing that Richard C. Levin received an $8.5 million payout when he retired in 2013 after two decades as president. Last Monday, the Chronicle of Higher Education released its new rankings of presidential salaries at public universities.
From these two data sources one can learn that Levin made more money in 2013 (the lump sum plus other compensation of $1.15 million) than the 10 highest-paid public university presidents and chancellors combined made in fiscal 2014.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jurassic thought: Linfield College prof teaches 'Dinosaur Philosophy'

June 18th, 2015

The blockbuster "Jurassic World," just had the highest-grossing box office opening weekend in U.S. history, a testament to people's love of dinosaurs. But Linfield College assistant professor Leonard Finkelman, a self-proclaimed "dinosaur philosopher," takes that love to an unusual level.
Finkelman, who grew up in New York City, has been excited about dinosaurs since he was 2. He was first captivated by the Tyrannosaurus Rex on a family trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. To this day, the T. rex is his favorite dinosaur.

Recession slammed a 4-year brake on U.S. school spending; Oregon fared worse

June 17th, 2015

Despite a rebounding economy, U.S. spending on public schools grew more slowly from 2009 to 2013 than at any time during the preceding two decades, new data from the Census Bureau shows.
Since the economic recovery began in June 2009, spending on schools rose by only about 0.5 percent a year on average through 2013, to $10,700 per student, an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive found.
By contrast, per-student spending on U.S. schools grew an average of 5 percent a year, and never less than 2.5 percent year-over-year, from 1992 through 2008, Census figures show.
Oregon's spending on schools trended downward from 2009 to 2013, making for an even greater historical anomaly. At $9,500 per student, the state spent 3 percent less in 2012-13 than during its peak year of 2008-09, even though inflation rose about 9 percent during that period, the federal figures show.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shift funding, not policy; turn freshmen into graduates

Statesman Journal
June 17th, 2015

Higher education in Oregon is fortunate to have many advocates returning to Salem year after year in support of our students. Dedicated legislators wrestle with the nagging issues of affordability, graduation rates and degrees that meet Oregon’s economic needs.
Several hundred people – from guidance counselors and college presidents to students themselves – testify each session about the gantlet that students traverse between enrolling and earning a degree. There is universal agreement that something must be done so that more students can access college, get a degree and become part of a highly skilled, diverse workforce helping to reinvigorate the middle class.

Free Community College, Anyone?

June 17th, 2015

This is the question Senator Mark Hass and his compatriots, Representatives Mark Johnson and Tobias Read, have posed in a bill currently before the Oregon Legislature.
Inspired by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's year-old "Tennessee Promise," SB 81 grants students a community college tuition waiver if they meet its several requirements. These include attainment of a high school diploma or a GED within two years of applying for this program, as well as seeking a federal Pell grant. The Oregon Promise would cover the remainder of tuition due after federal resources are applied. Students would pay a nominal $50 fee each term.
Tuition-free community college made its first appearance as a proposal last session in SB 1524. That bill became an interim study by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Given Oregon's 40-40-20 goal (100 percent high school graduation, 40 percent associate’s degree attainment, and the remaining 40 percent of Oregonians earning a four-year degree or higher by the year 2025), the study explored this concept as a way to raise the state's college-degree attainment.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

University of Oregon to hire faculty under auspices of researchers Jim Hutchison, Eric Selker and Elizabeth Stormshak

Register Guard
June 15th, 2015

Wanted: Internationally recognized scientist with demonstrated ability to solve cutting-edge problems on chromosome and nuclear architecture, function and dynamics.
Must be willing to help revive the University of Oregon’s classical genetics research to its former renown.Nobel Prize is not required, said Chuck Lillis, chairman of the UO Board of Trustees.
“But let’s hire the person who might be on the short list and is perfect for the university,” he said.
Lillis is talking about a specific hiring push meant to bring dozens of new scientists to campus in the next few years.
The initiative is part of the “clusters of excellence” academic upgrade plan the UO unveiled last year. Faculty proposed 34 fields where new hires could elevate the UO’s rankings nationally.
Administrators chose the 10 best “clusters” to pursue in the hopes that donors would step up and fund the new hires.So far, only one donor has done so.
Last fall, Connie Ballmer — and her husband, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — funded an “obesity prevention” cluster in the UO College of Education with a $20 million endowment.

'Much remains to be done' a recurring theme in Portland Superintendent Carole Smith's performance review

June 16th, 2015

A majority of Portland school board members offered over-the-top praise to Portland schools superintendent Carole Smith before voting 4-1 Monday night to approve her yearly job evaluation.
They called her an a person with uncanny intelligence and perception (board member Greg Belisle), an exceptionally kind person who has earned the gratitude of teens (Matt Morton), a leader who has delivered great results (Ruth Adkins) and an employee with "an work ethic beyond anybody I have seen" (Tom Koehler).
But the written performance review they approved on a 4-1 vote, with two members absent, gave a more moderated view of what Smith accomplished in the past year.
She was awarded no raise and no extension of her contract, even though many board members said she deserved both. At the last minute Monday, the board dropped plans to give her a one-year contract extension, to 2018, because the new board majority that will be sworn in on July 6 objected.

Monday, June 15, 2015

We're far from 40-40-20, but Oregon is optimistic

Statesman Journal
June 13th, 2015

More than 4,800 local high school seniors walked down aisles and across stages to accept their diplomas this month.
Most of them by now have probably made the decision of what comes next: college or no college?
If all goes according to former Gov. John Kitzhaber's plan to boost economic prosperity in Oregon, all of those graduates eventually will fall into one of three categories.
According to a statewide goal, by 2025, 40 percent of working-age Oregonians will have at least a bachelor's degree, another 40 percent will have an associate degree or certificate, and the remaining 20 percent will have a high school diploma. As it stands, numbers obtained by the Oregon Education Investment Board through U.S. Census data are far from 40-40-20.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Public higher education needs a master plan

Register Guard
June 9th, 2015

Mission creep in public higher education has always worried me, and the worries seem to increase with every passing day.
Most states, including Oregon, have three institutional arrangements when it comes to education beyond high school — community colleges, teaching universities and research universities. This arrangement was pioneered in California and put into place in 1960, thanks to visionary politicians, including Dorothy Donahoe, who represented Bakersfield in the state Assembly. When I taught at California State University in Bakersfield, before moving to Oregon, it was a pleasure to walk through the corridors of DDH — Dorothy Donahoe Hall.
The California plan — the “master plan for higher education” — delineated the roles for the three types of higher education institutions. Through such a clearly demarcated set of responsibilities, taxpayers were assured that resources would not be wasted through unnecessary overlaps among the community colleges and the universities.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Senate votes to eliminate Kitzhaber education board

Statesman Journal
June 9th, 2015

The Oregon Senate has voted to eliminate the Oregon Education Investment Board, which was the centerpiece of former Gov. John Kitzhaber's plan to improve public education.
Kitzhaber envisioned the board as a powerful agency overseeing all of education, from preschool through college, with authority to direct money toward the most successful schools. The concept never fully materialized, and the board has many critics who say it's ineffective.

'Pay It Forward' tuition program needs more planning, House panel says

June 9th, 2015

Oregon's much-discussed "Pay It Forward" tuition repayment program still isn't ready to launch, a House panel said this week.
House Bill 2662 would have established a program allowing students free college tuition if they agreed to return a portion of their post-graduate income to the state. But the program needs a more detailed plan before it can proceed, committee members said Monday before amending the bill and sending it to the House floor.
The amended version calls for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to build on the pilot program proposal they presented to the Legislature last fall, come up with a framework and price tag and report back to lawmakers in 2016 and 2017. Legislators would retain final say on whether the program will come to fruition.

UO's Michael Schill will be Oregon's highest-paid college president, rankings show

June 8th, 2015

Michael Schill, the University of Oregon's incoming president, will be the highest-paid academic chief executive in the state when he starts work July 1.
Lesley Hallick, president of relatively tiny Pacific University, in Forest Grove, continues to lead the compensation pack among Oregon's private schools at $567,000, less than the $625,000 she made at last report.
John Kroger, president of better-known Reed College, makes about a third of that – although as a relatively new president, his figure is a partial-year salary.
These numbers and more appear in The Chronicle of Higher Education's annual survey of college presidents' compensation, a national count that presents an intriguing hierarchy locally.

Friday, June 5, 2015

‘Free community college’ plan gets opposition

June 5th,2 015

Free tuition for community college students is a plan proposed by President Obama, and it already has some traction in Oregon.
Senate Bill 81, sponsored by Mark Hass, would waive tuition for required courses for qualified students who have lived in Oregon for a year, graduated within the past 2 years from an Oregon high school and accepted all state and federal grants.
Hass said $20 million in federal grants would help fund the plan.
The Oregon Student Association opposes the bill. Unless there are firm commitments of more academic advisors and other staff to help thousands more students succeed, community colleges oppose the idea.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

PERS: Oregon's public pension price tag is looking big in 2017

May 20th, 2015

Another budgetary storm is brewing in Oregon's public pension system, according to figures shared Friday with the pension system's board and the five-member citizens panel that oversees its investments.
The siren has already gone off on the first wave, which will crash over schools, municipalities and state agencies in 2017 due to the Oregon Supreme Court's recent rejection of most of the pension benefit cuts enacted by the Legislature in 2013 .
The system's actuary. Milliman Inc., on Friday estimated  the price of restoring the 2 percent cost-of-living adjustments for members who retired before the legislation was passed: $345 million per year starting in 2017.

2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposes bill that promises free college tuition

Daily Emerald
June 4th, 2015

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the latest to announce his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election. A self-described Socialist, Sanders is making headlines with his more “radical” statements and initiatives than his big-name rival, Hillary Clinton.
Recently, Sanders proposed the “College for All Act”, an initiative that would eliminate undergraduate tuition costs at four year public colleges and universities.
Today, total tuition costs at public colleges and universities amount to about $70 billion dollars per year. Under the “College for All Act”, the federal government would cover 67 percent of national tuition costs, while individual states would be responsible for the remaining 33 percent of the cost.
Additionally, the bill would reform student loan interest rates. By restoring a formula that was in use until 2006, student loan interest rates would be nearly cut in half, dropping from 4.32 percent to just 2.32. In addition, the bill would ensure interest rates never rise above 8.25 percent.

Oregon universities link tuition limits to funding boost

The Register Guard
June 2nd, 2015

The presidents of Oregon universities are pledging to limit tuition increases if the Legislature agrees to increase higher education funding over the next two years.
University administrators have spent most of the year pushing aggressively for a two-year budget of $755 million, which they say would restore their funding to roughly the level it was at in 2007 without adjusting for inflation. Their funding request is $85 million more than legislative budget writers initially proposed.
If they get their way, the universities are promising to spend the additional money on initiatives that help more students graduate at a lower cost. That includes lower tuition for students that need it, more advisers and faculty.
The proposal “would give students and legislators some security that the money would be spent very directly in a way to increase student success,” Portland State University President Wim Wiewel said Monday. “We are very hopeful that with that kind of a certainty, the Legislature would use some of that additional money that is available to provide more funding for the universities.”

Underachieving Oregon: 3 states whose schools beat Oregon's (and how they did it)

June 4th, 2015

Public schools in three states -- Massachusetts, Indiana and Washington -- stand out for producing far better results than those in Oregon, an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive found.
Their experiences offer instructive examples of how a state can position itself to deliver the best possible outcomes for its young people and its economy.
Most of the key steps they took are strikingly similar: They set high academic standards, wrote rigorous tests and instituted meaningful consequences for schools and students. They provided strong, sustained political leadership in the face of pushback, enlisting crucial help from business and higher education. They did so in the mid-1990s, when state academic standards were novel, and they aimed for intellectual richness and complexity, not just the basics.
The Oregonian/OregonLive focused on those states' accomplishments because each is a star performer among states that spend similar amounts per student.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Steve Duin: A backward slide for Pay It Forward

June 3rd, 2015

The adjunct professor who was there at the beginning with Pay It Forward is a far more uplifting study than the Oregon Legislature that has buried the idea, so let's start with Barbara Dudley.
When Dudley graduated from the University of California-Berkeley School of Law in 1971, she had no student debt.  "I went to UC-Berkeley for $500 a semester that I could work off with work study," Dudley says.  She left flush with possibilities, not awash in debt notices.
Where, then, you're wondering, did this smart, young lawyer cash in? San Francisco?  An up-and-coming Westwood legal boutique?
Olongapo, in the Philippines.  Subic Bay Naval Base.  Dudley was one of five lawyers hired by the National Lawyers Guild to represent GIs facing courts martial for their growing resistance to the Vietnam War.  She hadn't yet passed the bar when she landed in the Philippines.

Oregon universities ask for funding to limit tuitions

Statesman Journal
June 1st, 2015

The presidents of Oregon universities are pledging to limit tuition hikes if the Legislature agrees to boost higher education funding over the next two years.
University administrators have spent most of the year pushing aggressively for a two-year budget of $755 million, which they say would restore their funding to roughly the level it was at in 2007 without adjusting for inflation. Their funding request is $85 million more than legislative budget writers initially proposed.
If they get their way, the universities are promising to spend the additional money on initiatives that help more students graduate at a lower cost. That includes lower tuition for students that need it, more advisers and faculty.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

UO trustees to zero in on the competitive Portland higher education marketplace

Register Guard
June 2nd, 2015

The University of Oregon’s Portland beachhead will be a focal point Wednesday when the Board of Trustees gathers from homes in Seattle, Denver, Portland and points in between for its quarterly meetings marathon.
Trustees will consider the UO Foundation’s proposed purchase of the White Stag building in Old Town, a plan to ship UO’s masters program in historic preservation to the Rose City — and trustees will consider a blueprint for future development at the Portland outpost during the three-day series of meetings.
The foundation proposes to spend $42.6 million on the 150,015 square foot White Stag complex. The UO would continue paying rent until the foundation’s mortgage was satisfied; then, the foundation would give the building to the university, according to board documents.
The UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts, meanwhile, is asking to relocate its 33-year-old historic preservation program to Portland beginning in fall 2016.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ed Ray signs on for another five years as OSU president

May 30th, 2015

Oregon State University President Ed Ray has signed on for another five years, which when completed would make him the third longest-serving president since the school was founded in 1868.
The OSU Board of Trustees voted Friday to extend Ray's contract for another five years, through June 30, 2020. The agreement maintains Ray's current base salary for 2015-16 at $298,381 and a supplement from the OSU Foundation of $230,358 – for a total annual salary of $528,739.
Ray became OSU president on July 31, 2003, meaning that he's completing his 12th year as head of the public university in Corvallis. Ray is already OSU's fourth longest-serving president, said Steve Clark, OSU vice president for university relations and marketing.