Governors across the decades have emphasized public education as the foundation of our state. Unless we turn that trend around, a generation of children will face limits in reaching their potential, and the state will fall short of its ambitious education goals. For the Native Americans who hunted and fished here and the pioneers who followed their dreams westward, Oregon has offered up a wealth of natural resources through the centuries.
Once it was seen as furs, or fish, or marketable timber. Plentiful grazing land. Rich, well-drained Jory soil. They remained preoccupied with weather, sickness, death, river crossings and the supply of grass and game. The first school in the Pacific Northwest sprung up at Fort Vancouver, where teacher John Ball struggled to teach English to two dozen Native American and mixed-race boys more familiar with their own Cree, Nez Perce and other languages. But the region still lacked a public-school system and the taxation authority to support it.
Congress established the Oregon Territory in , and its first appointed governor, Joseph Lane, included a plea for public schools in his inaugural address:. Our success was the product of public investments made by our parents, and their parents as well. Effectively those adults recognized our potential, and blessed it with a promise to create a vibrant educational system harnessing our possibilities and transforming them to realities.
Today, as the next generation wields a battery of high-tech tools we never dreamed of — computers smaller than a human hand, digital textbooks that read aloud in multiple languages — it is our turn to invest in public education. The need is especially evident now, as Oregon has fallen behind other states in key areas. State leaders have championed an overhaul of our educational system with a shared goal of graduating percent of high school students by But in the last decade, as the economy slowed and legislators sought areas to trim, education has received the brunt of the cuts.
That difference translates to hundreds of millions of dollars not being directed to our public schools.
Critics say Oregon Promise lacks adequate funding and has overly strict eligibility requirements
Even more stark is the picture painted by the Quality Education Commission, a body tasked with examining best educational practices and estimating how much it would cost to create a model Oregon schooling system. Over the past decade, budget cuts to schools have produced some dire consequences.
Teachers were laid off by the thousands, resulting in significantly higher class sizes. School days were cut from calendars. As the foreboding numbers have mounted, parents, concerned citizens and school board members have pressed the state Legislature to reinvest in education. Business leaders joined the effort as well, reasserting that education investments pay big dividends by creating a highly trained and nimble workforce.
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Furthermore, lawmakers were unable to agree on a path for comprehensive revenue reform, a concept that the Oregon School Boards Association OSBA strongly supported in the legislative session. During the legislative session, OSBA took the lead with other education advocates around the state in pressing for comprehensive revenue reform and full, sustainable school funding.
Kate Brown. As legislators continue to focus attention on assuring adequate school funding, hanging in the balance are more than , students in grades kindergarten through Examined as individuals, they constitute remarkable examples of ingenuity, courage and perseverance. Logan Boyle and Cody Collins , while students at Vale High School, beat out competitors from across the country to win an auto-repair skills competition held at Ford Motor Co. The resulting videos and photos can be seen on these web pages.
We are also asking students and parents to join us by creating their own images and words. Watch their faces. Listen to their voices. There is nothing which the interests of this State so much require as a thorough system of common schools. A finished education should be placed within reach of every child within its borders. Enlarge image. Those problems were multiplying for many midwesterners in the late s and early s.
About The Promise of Oregon
The Panic of brought economic depression that cascaded into bank failures, currency problems, tightened credit, foreclosed mortgages, unemployment and falling agricultural prices. Economic hardships often magnified social and marital problems. Health problems added to the suffering, particularly in the Midwest where diseases such as malaria caused thousands of deaths. Many saw homes and farms swept away in massive flooding along the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
Others looked to escape the moral and political struggles caused by slavery and free blacks.
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As challenges mounted, a growing number simply wanted to walk away from the imperfect world they inhabited in search of a better place. Detail of a typical covered wagon used by immigrants to Oregon. Image courtesy Oregon Department of Transportation - colorized Enlarge image. In contrast, news from Oregon was promising.
Wyeth, William Slacum and others included narratives of a land rich with possibilities. Missionaries wrote glowing letters to magazines and newspapers and gave lectures and sermons extolling Oregon's virtues. Eager audiences heard of a place not so much different as better. They were tempted by descriptions of the Willamette Valley that promised a moderate climate, fertile soil, plenty of rain, vast stands of timber, fish virtually jumping out of rivers, a peaceful environment and a lack of diseases.
Missouri senators Lewis Linn and Thomas Hart Benton added to the growing excitement by repeatedly introducing legislation in Congress to grant up to 1, acres of land to Oregon settlers. While the bills failed to pass, they gave hope to those who believed they would be rewarded for their risks. In fact, Oregon's provisional government moved forward with an act in that gave any white male settler the right to claim free of charge up to acres of land.
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Conditions were ready by the early s for Oregon Fever to spread. A trickle of wagons grew into successive waves of wagon trains, particularly through the next decade. About people followed Dr.
Related Promise (Promise, The Oregon Country)
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