Gov. Kate Brown has either forgotten or wants us all to forget what she has done undermine public education in Oregon. Neither one is a recommendation for her to lead.
When she came out Wednesday with her education initiatives, there was a glaring evasion. She called for “a high standard of accountability in implementation, ensuring outcomes are measured and that every dollar of public investment for our children is well spent.” But in 2015 it was Brown who sabotaged the state’s efforts to measure student performance and how the state spends its money.
Following the lead of the state teachers union and conservative legislators, Brown signed a bill in that made it easy for parents to opt their children out of standardized tests. Then she made a weak effort to tell parents not to do it. And to make matters worse, Melissa Navas, Brown’s spokeswoman at the time, argued that there was no contradiction.
Brown’s action has had profound consequences for the ability of parents, students, educators and policy makers to understand what is going on in public education. Oregonians needs legitimate comparisons with other states and between schools. They aren’t getting them.
In the spring of 2016 in Bend-La Pine Schools, more than 92 percent of Summit High School’s junior class did not take the Smarter Balanced standardized tests. Then in the spring of this year, not one junior at La Pine High School took the test. Not all that many took it at any other high school in the Bend-La Pine schools.
Brown’s letter to educators on Oct. 11 calls on them to report to her with specific actions that can help Oregon improve education. Here’s a template for how to reply:
Dear Gov. Brown,
Please reverse your policy on testing so Oregon can achieve a high standard of accountability in implementation, ensuring outcomes are measured and that every dollar of public investment for our children is well spent.