Oregon Business Plan summit connects education and economy
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
The Oregon Business Plan is playing “The Long Game” as its theme, and education advocates are part of the action.
The plan is a statewide business leaders initiative, and its annual gathering, the Leadership Summit, is one of Oregon’s premier business events. Presenters at the Dec. 16 Portland summit included administrators, teachers and students.
Business and industry leaders have an acknowledged interest in an educated and capable workforce but have reservations about tax policy to support education and potential impacts on commerce. Among the issues the group wants to tackle in 2020 is how to “adapt to a radically different future of work.” The plan suggests “meeting stronger education attainment goals” as part of the solution.
A presentation on “Shared Prosperity – How Do We Make our Economy Inclusive?” featured Baker School District Superintendent Mark Witty, who highlighted challenges facing his community. A presentation on “What Does the Future of Work and Learning Hold?” featured a riveting presentation by Katrina Hull, an educator at Salem-Keizer Public Schools’ McKay High School, and her students Isabel Mejia and Lesly Rojas.
The event drew some of the biggest names in Oregon politics. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley both presented. Wyden announced funding for the Secure Rural Schools program, which uses federal funds to offset a portion of lost timber receipts. Gov. Kate Brown, House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney all presented on statewide challenges and legislative priorities, with a focus on items including trade, housing and carbon policy.
School districts were well represented. A strong cohort of school board members, including OSBA Board President Tass Morrison and President-elect Kevin Cassidy, and school district staff attended. Cassidy, with a group of Baker School District board members and employees, found the meeting valuable.
“We all had great opportunities to connect with members of the Legislature, Oregon business leaders and other community advocates from all corners of the state,” he said. “I love the collaboration we are building.”