Governor John Kitzhaber recently presented the 2015 education budget for Oregon. The state is aiming to reach a goal called “40-40-20” by 2025. The goal, according to Oregon Learns, is for “40 percent of young adults in Oregon to have a baccalaureate degree or higher, 40 percent to have an associates degree or certificate in skilled occupation, and the last 20 percent to have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent credential.” Kitzhaber is focusing mainly on kindergarten, so the budget will be shuffled around from the secondary schools to early childhood education, funding all-day kindergarten in Oregon.
According to the Washington Times, the four percent increase in the shared primary and secondary school budget will not be enough for high schools to have smaller class sizes or give more of the necessary funds to physical education and arts classes.
Reading at grade level in early childhood is of great importance, and the budget will help more children in Oregon accomplish that. Increased funding will provide a solid foundation to begin increasing the rate of young adults graduating from high school. However, the budget is lacking in funding for higher grades that are also in need of several things: reduction of class sizes, funding to arts and physical education, and overall more attention to the students.
With class sizes as large as they are now, students have a difficult time receiving adequate individual attention from their teachers. In order to increase graduation rates, class sizes will need to be made smaller, because not all students can learn at the rate prescribed by education reformers without some amount of extra help. It can be difficult for students to get what they need when there may be 40 to 45 other students in their class. This is not true of all classes, but it is becoming more prevalent in public classrooms.
What education in Oregon really needs is more funding at all grade levels. In order to bring benefits to the economy, Oregon needs more educated young adults going to college and entering the workforce. Schools need to foster the minds of children and ensure the learning environment is allowing students to succeed, but this will not come until education is treated as a top budgetary priority.