Bill to Privatize UO Dead?

Bill to Privatize UO Dead? More like a Zombie.

Today’s Register-Guard reports that the bill to establish an independent governing board for University of Oregon is “dead for this legislative session.” Those of us who have been actively opposing the privatization / corporatization of UO can breathe only a quick sigh of relief because House Bill 4061 creates a special committee to examine the issue of university governance between April and November. This committee would be charged with developing legislation for the 2013 session that would accomplish the same goal. We will remain vigilant and preserve the public mission and character of UO. Source: “Key legislators unite behind a plan to study university boards,” The Register-Guard, B1-B3.

Not all of the recommendations of the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) are tabled. Senate Bill 1581 represents the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good is an attempt to wiggle out of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) sanctions by the creation of achievement compacts between districts and the state. This system allows schools and districts flexibility in achieving the still impossible goals of NCLB, which must be addressed at the national level unless Oregon opts out of federal education funding, an unlikely possibility.

The bad is the creation of a whole new hierarchy for Oregon education. The OEIB wants to appoint and control several new positions including a Chief Education Officer, a Commissioner for Community College Services, and a Chancellor of the Oregon University System.

The ugly is imbedded in this sentence “providing an integrated, statewide, student-based data system that monitors expenditures and outcomes to determine the return on state-wide education investments” (SB 1581, SECTION 18, Sec. 1, 4, B, c).

This artifact of the standards based movement assumes that the most important thing we can know about a student outcome is a number, a score on a large-scale high-risk test. The acquisition of the P-20 Longitudinal Data System is described in the OEIB’s report Oregon Learns. This data collection system is intended to drive educational outcomes but not does address huge funding problems, enormous class sizes, absenteeism, and lack of access to a full day of high school classes for most students locally. It is my opinion that human energy should not be invested in more tests, or the data systems that drive them, at least until we have solved the other more pressing matters facing educators, staff, students, parents, and all stakeholders in the Oregon education system.

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