Senate Bills 182 and 183 represent Gov. Kate Brown’s education policy initiatives for this legislative session. On Monday, the Chief Education Office appeared before the House Education Committee to make its case.
The hearing was organized at the request of House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) to provide information to the House-side education policy committee. Because the two bills have already been passed by the Senate Education Committee to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, it is unnecessary and unlikely they will be referred to the House Education Committee.
The bills represent two distinct yet complementary approaches to improving Oregon’s graduation rate. SB 183 would “carve out” $20 million from the State School Fund to create a graduation early indicator and intervention system statewide.
SB 182 would change the existing Network for Quality Teaching and Learning to a new Educator Advancement Council. Currently, the NQTL receives $37 million biennially.* Those funds are distributed to support teacher professional development, with specific emphasis on new teacher training and mentoring. The Educator Advancement Council would create a new council to do much of the same work.
Chief Education Officer Lindsey Capps began the presentations by summarizing the measure’s goals.
“The legislative proposals will advance our efforts across Oregon to improve graduation outcomes and make ongoing progress to achieving Oregon’s vision, and that of the governor, to ensure that every student graduates high school with a plan for his or her future,” he said.
He described the bills as working “in tandem with communities and educators” to help “students least likely to graduate high school.”
Other presenters included Education Innovation Officer Colt Gill and Hilda Rosselli, director of career and college readiness for the Chief Education Office .
The hearing was purely for informational purposes, and as such there was no opposition testimony. The presentations described generally the problems and solutions the bills seek to address but did not focus on measure details.
This lack of detail was compounded by the fact that the text of SB 182 is not yet final. The presenters touted the measure as the result of a year of work by the office, but final amendments have not been drafted.
There did not seem to be consensus among legislators or advocates about either measure. Some committee members were complimentary and encouraged the panel to continue to address problems.
“We need to continue to do better … and I’m so excited to continue to have these conversations,” said Rep. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro).
Other members were encouraging but concerned. Rep. Susan McLain (D-Forest Grove) asked about the structure of the education system and stressed its importance.
“How do we make sure we don’t limit ourselves?” she asked, addressing the panel of presenters from the Chief Education Office. “Are we sure that we have this in a form that, even in the future if our needs change, we can still see this being the right funding … just making sure that we’re not siloing this money?”