• Author, Deb Mayer

Observations on Oregon's Graduation Rate

In support of amended SB353 as presented by Senator Lew Frederick

Why is Stand for Children all hot and bothered about Oregon's graduation rate? Is Oregon's graduation rate as abysmal as SFC claims? Is Measure 98 the bargain that will boost the graduation rate? Should the legislature fund Measure 98 or let educators decide how to spend education dollars?


Text of SB 353 is here. Amendments are here.


Contact your legislators!

It's as easy as 1-2-3-4-5. After reviewing the information below, Send a No on 98 postcard to state legislators to let them know they are under no obligation to fund Measure 98. In fact, if they care about our children they will let schools and educators decide how to spend funds appropriated by Measure 98 -- not corporations.

  1. Open your email program.

  2. Copy and paste the above postcard image into a new message. The image will instantly let officials know your issue.

  3. Write a note expressing your concerns. You may cut and paste information from below.

  4. Copy and paste email addresses of pertinent lawmakers listed below.

  5. Send

Senate Education Committee email addresses:

Sen.ArnieRoblan@oregonlegislature.gov, sen.DennisLinthicum@oregonlegislature.gov, Sen.SaraGelser@oregonlegislature.gov, Sen.MarkHass@state.or.us, Sen.JeffKruse@state.or.us,


You can also send one to your state Senator and Representative.

Leave a comment at our NO on 98 Facebook page.

Stand for Children (SFC or Stand) is in a tizzy because the Oregon state legislature is giving them a "chilly" reception when they come knocking on the state's door for funding. They've been whining about it for days here, here, here, and here.

Let's review. While most of us were working furiously to pass Measure 97 which would have adequately funded Oregon schools, Stand raised over $8,000,000 in cash and in-kind donations for Measure 98. WOW! How did they spend all that money on a campaign that had virtually no opposition? I'm sure I don't know, but that kind of cash would have paid for a lot of drop-out prevention. A good bit of that money came from Bill Gates and his billionaire buddies according to Stand's annual report from 2014 and 2016 -- 2015 is oddly missing.

Although the YES on 98 campaign told supporters and the media there was no opposition to the measure, Parents Across America Oregon challenged them to a debate. At first, David Rosenfeld agreed to the debate if we would set it up. So, we found a venue and moderator and co-sponsors. When we returned to determine a mutually acceptable date and time, Rosenfeld said he had reconsidered. He said PAA Oregon was not credible opposition because we didn't have a PAC. Our small all-volunteer organization with a bank account measured in the hundreds, not millions of dollars, didn't have a political action committee. Therefore, we couldn't be taken seriously. He also refused to appear with us on OPB and other news outlets. Without his cooperation, the media refused to give us a voice.

PAA Oregon wasn't the only group voicing real concerns about Measure 98. According to Balletpedia, there were others.

The Portland City Club, a nonpartisan political organization, evaluated Measure 98 and, although a majority of the clubs members voted to endorse a "yes" vote, half of its research committee members encouraged a "No" vote. The following were the major assertions of those in opposition:

  • Budgeting by ballot measure can have unforeseen problems and bypasses the Legislature, something that past City Club reports recommend against.

  • Dedicated funding becomes unavailable for other critical and underfunded state services and programs, like K-12 education, social services, public safety and higher education.

  • Mandated programs force districts to use these funds for specific programs that may not address individual school and district needs.

  • It’s unclear whether the remaining limited resources would be enough to rebuild CTE, college prep and dropout prevention programs where they don’t already exist.

  • It does not adequately address systemic issues of equity and access them in new ways.

  • A top down, state-centered measure creates more complicated and costly bureaucracy to provide accountability and oversight

  • Criteria used to measure the impact of mandated HS Fund spending is unclear.

  • It assumes a sufficient level of experience and expertise among districts, adequate infrastructure and enough qualified personnel to implement these programs and sufficient community capacity to support these efforts.

  • It is unclear how the measure’s “best practices” for building high school success programs would be adapted to local needs, implemented, tracked and evaluated.

  • It lacks an analysis of the current capacity of districts to implement the mandated practices or the costs of doing so in districts of different sizes across the state

According to the United States Census Bureau report for 2010 - 2014, both Oregon's high school and college graduation rates are above the national average. It is important to consider the algorithm used when calculating graduation rates. For example, the percentage of students graduating in four years may be significantly lower than the number graduating in five years. Students have many valid reasons for not graduating on time.

For some students, especially those living in poverty, a diploma is not the goal of attending school -- a driver's license is. At sixteen some students choose to work to help support their families. It may take them longer than four years to graduate. Also, children learning English as a second language may need more time. Students with disabilities also may take longer. To characterize these children as dropouts because they do not graduate in four years skews the reality of children with obstacles to graduation.

The percentage of the budget spent on education in Oregon is between five and ten percent lower than that of neighboring states. Revenue sources from federal, state, and local funding for Oregon are also much lower than those of California, Idaho, and Washington.

One bright spot in the mix of test scores and graduation rates is Oregon's average composite SAT score. It is higher than surrounding states and considerably higher than the national average.

Does Oregon need to improve its graduation rates? Yes. Is funding Measure 98 the best way to do it? No. PAA Oregon has written extensively about the deception and flaws of Measure 98. To find out more, read the articles below.

Related stories: Bill Gates to Stand for Children, "How do I fund thee? Let me count the ways"; Measure 98 Is an Unfunded Mandate; Vote NO on 98!; Why Is STAND FOR CHILDREN Spending MILLION$ to Pass Measure 98?; VOTE NO on 98 Flyer; Stand for Children's Dark Money Dilemma; Fraud by VOTE YES on 98 Campaign?; Five Reasons to Vote No on 98

All statistical information and charts in this article may be found on Ballotpedia.


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