BEND, OR -- National statistics released Monday show an overall improvement in the country’s graduation rate; the 83.2% national rate is the highest on record. However, Oregon remains near the bottom of the ranking; 73.8% is the nation's third worst.
Measure 98 supporters point to the state’s abysmal showing as validation that more funding is needed for dropout prevention, career and college readiness programs. Former Redmond School Superintendent Vickie Fleming says Measure 98 is necessary. "This is a great way of getting at some of the strategies that are evidence-based, that can really get kids into context and learning with more of a hands-on approach through career and technical education, and then really focusing on dropout prevention strategies and helping kids increase their participation in dual college credit." She adds, "Data points to the fact that if you enroll students in career-technical courses that are hands-on and really learning in context, that the kids who are enrolled in those and concentrate in those courses actually have better performance and better graduation rates than those in the mainstream."
The measure aims to allocate more funding for career and technical education programs, college readiness and dropout prevention. Fleming says the money would come from anticipated growth in state revenue and wouldn't cost taxpayers any more. "We all know what the challenges are in terms of Oregon’s PERS liability and some of the healthcare costs that have risen. But, the projected growth in the economy would be earmarked for this particular purpose. So, it would not come out of the state school fund allocation; it would come directly from an appropriation as a result of this initiative."
According to the Yes on 98 campaign, the measure could bring more than $4 million to Bend-La Pine Schools for high school programs; Redmond Schools could get nearly $2 million, and Crook County Schools could see almost $950,000. "The simulation that the campaign ran with the Bend-La Pine School District shows that the graduation rate can be improved within the four-year period with this investment, it just kind of makes sense. It’s really a drop in the bucket when you look at the overall state school fund."
Click HERE to access the measure's text in Oregon's online voters pamphlet, provided by the Secretary of State. There is no organized opposition to the measure.