Covering Education: A Reporter's Guide to Education in Oregon

Oregon’s economic growth depends on the strength of its public school system. Providing that system represents the largest single expenditure in the state’s General Fund Budget and a significant portion of property taxes paid by the citizens in your community. The money spent for schools may well make school districts the largest businesses in your area.

The citizens in your community depend on news coverage for their information about schools. In fact, for the more than 70 percent of the population with no children in school, news coverage may be their only source of information about the schools.

In Oregon, local school boards determine how educational services are offered following state and federal laws as well as the collective bargaining agreements boards have with school employees. This structure makes covering the school beat a challenge for even the most seasoned reporter.

The Oregon School Boards Association has prepared this ninth edition of Covering Education: A Reporter’s Guide to Education in Oregon to assist in reporting school issues. The guide contains information about school organization, curriculum, budget, collective bargaining, education service districts and community colleges. It also includes appropriate references to state law and a directory of education agencies and organizations.

Covering Education: A Reporter's Guide to Education in Oregon (2690k This file is in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. Click here to download.) (Complete Edition)

Covering Education is organized into the following sections:

The School District’s Organization describes how school districts are organized and governed; how board members are elected, appointed or recalled. It also includes general information about school personnel plus information on requirements for criminal record checks for all school employees and the student records law.

The School Curriculum reviews state standards for elementary and secondary schools as well as the federal requirements for schools in the revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. In addition this section includes: information on school attendance; the school calendar; early childhood education; the Certificates of Initial (CIM) and Advanced (CAM) Mastery; state, district and school report cards; charter schools; testing; textbook selection; and a review of school improvement efforts in Oregon beginning in 1983. The federal program section of this chapter includes information about Title programs funded under the NCLB Act of 2001, special education, vocational education and school nutrition programs.

Understanding the School Budget is a detailed explanation of school budgeting procedures that apply to school districts, education service districts and community colleges. It includes information about voter-approved tax limitation impacts on school budgets as well as sections about budget committees, budget preparation and approval, school revenues and expenditures, current bond levy and local option levy requirements, election dates, vote-by-mail and computing taxes.

Education and the Collective Bargaining Law is a step-by-step explanation of the law and its applications. Also included are an expanded glossary of collective bargaining terms and list of teacher union strikes in Oregon since 1973 when Oregon’s collective bargaining law went into effect.

Education Service Districts describes how these agencies are organized, how they function and the services provided for local school districts. This section also describes the ESD’s role in school district boundary changes and school district mergers.

Community Colleges in Oregon includes historical information about their development as well as information about governance, organization, administration and funding.

Directory of Education Agencies and Organizations is intended to be a working list of those agencies and organizations reporters are most likely to contact for information needed to verify local actions or give local stories a state, regional or national perspective.

References to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) and to Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) are included as appropriate in the text of each section. Oregon Revised Statutes are the laws that govern the operation of schools. Oregon Administrative Rules are adopted by the State Board of Education or other state agencies under authority granted by statute and have the force of law.

We hope this guide will be helpful to you, not only in covering schools but also in establishing good working relationships with school board members, community college board members and administrators in your community.

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