It’s easy to understand the impulse behind some of the initiatives likely headed for the ballot.
Initiative Petition 65 would require lawmakers to allocate money for dropout prevention and college readiness. IP 67 requires lawmakers to allocate money for outdoor school across the state.
Measure supporters look at the current state of education in Oregon and see a lack of things they think are valuable. In a state whose educational performance lags, it’s no surprise to see these measures on the ballot.
At the same time, don’t forget that the money for these programs will compete with other state priorities.
In the case of IP 65, it does not create new revenue to spend on dropout prevention and college readiness. It requires the Legislature to spend more on dropout prevention and college readiness. Is that more important than affordable housing, more state troopers, better roads? Don’t priorities change over time based on changes in the state?
In the case of outdoor schools, the program would be funded as “economic development” by the state lottery. That does not mean that the lottery will necessarily take in more money and fund outdoor school from it. Rather, lottery officials would have to trim other economic development efforts to ensure money is provided for outdoor school.
And remember, school districts across Oregon already can send their students to outdoor school if they wish to do so. At least some school boards clearly believe their students are be better served by spending their money elsewhere.