The hard work of Oregon state treasurer Ted Wheeler and his staff, has crystallized into what I agree Oregon students need in the form of a proposal that will be before the legislature this session called, The Oregon Opportunity Initiative.
The following is some of my thinking on Oregon higher ed., over the years. I am biased, but feel Oregon state treasurer Ted Wheeler's proposal really is wonderful for students. The Oregon Opportunity Initiative, two pieces of legislation, will be before the legislature in Oregon this year. Ted Wheeler's Oregon Opportunity Initiative would potentially be the best thing to hit Oregon post-secondary education since measure 5, but this time in a good way:
"The Opportunity Initiative creates a Constitutionally- dedicated permanent fund that will be invested to generate income. Income from the investment returns will both increase student aid grants in the short-term, and also put Oregon on a path toward a long-term solution to the problem.
The fund will be created by issuing General Obligation Bonds in 2014. Subsequent issues would be made each year until the fund reaches ts goal of producing revenue needed to fully fund the unmet needs of every Oregon student for two years of their post-secondary education. The Act anticipates an issue of $500 million in the coming biennium and continuing smaller (and declining) contributions over the next 30 years.
The fund’s investment returns will generate revenue that will be dedicated to student assistance. To maximize the impact of the grants, the administrators of the program would be asked to design incentives for:
• Critical degree programs in STEM fields.
• Vocational training and other workforce development programs.
• On-time graduation (measured by credits), thereby reducing facility needs for institutions as well as reducing student debt."
To save you some time and torture, you can go here for a nicer layout.
Oregon Opportunity Grant Investment Cost-Benefit
(The report lost some graphs over the years, but the seeds of the same idea are here too — see link below for full(ish) report)
The policy goal for this cost-benefit analysis is to increase the number of Oregon high school graduates attending college in Oregon by lowering the out-of-pocket expenses for a targeted group of students in the form of need-based financial aid grants available through an already existing grant program, the Oregon Opportunity Grant. The objective is to double the number of Oregon Opportunity Grant recipients and double the award amount of each grant for each Oregon student eligible for the program.
Further, to compensate for anticipated increases in enrollment and the negative impact on such educational quality indicators as class size and faculty salaries, and additional policy goal of increasing state government support for the Oregon University System by $300,000,000 per legislative biennium, a doubling of current support levels. Full Post
Oregon has Let its Students Down
Our state universities have never had their own ballot measure. Full Post
Saving Democracy by Investing in Higher Education
Aug. 11, 2009
The notion that education is only about training employees is fundamentally flawed. Education is about responsible citizens, in addition to the economic benefits of having an educated citizenry. One begets the others. Full Post
Time to Revamp Education
The complex web of pre-K-through-gray education systems needs to be better woven into a more sustainable fabric -- stronger, more resilient; not a patchwork group of competing interests when, in fact, all have the same goals. Full Post
Tuition Subsidies: How to Help Oregon’s Students Get College Degrees
July 20, 2011
I implore the newly created Oregon Education Investment Board to explore crafting a ballot measure that asks citizens to dedicate state money to subsidizing qualified Oregon high school students' tuition and fees to attend Oregon's public universities and community colleges. It is the right thing to do, and financially it's our best option for our future. Full Post
On the Value of Public Education
Sept. 04, 2011
It is hard to image Oregon without our public schools, community colleges and universities. So interwoven they are into our society, sometimes it is easy to take them for granted. What would we ever do without them? What if they didn't exist? How would that impact Oregon? Full Post
Bold Leadership on Higher Ed from Ted Wheeler
Sept. 21, 2011
In a speech to the City Club of Portland, state Treasurer Ted Wheeler recently called for the creation of a fund in 2014, through the debt capacity of the state, to dedicate public monies to the Oregon Opportunity Grant, a need based aid program for college students while at the same time “overhauling” the program. Full Post
Give Oregonians Credit for Supporting Public Higher Education
Oct. 20, 2011
It's been said "you got to spend money to make money". In higher education, they measure their "products" in decades and by some studies the return on invest is ten to one. That is worth the collective state investment but increasingly, the investment burden required for a higher education has been left to the student. Full Post
Universities Aren’t Like Businesses
Nov. 7, 2011
Public universities are not businesses, they are our common international treasures and should be treated with the same respect with which a religious person treats a church. Keep the public in public universities, and stop acting like market forces are the answer to all our problems. Full Post
After Lariviere, a New Chance for the University of Oregon
Nov. 29, 2011
To be frank Oregon needs a new leader at the University of Oregon that is less concerned with the interests of one donor and privatization of one institution, and more interested in the welfare of students statewide. Full Post
What is Good for Students is Good for Oregon Universities, What is Good for the OUS isn’t Always good for Students
May 30, 2012
It is time to take a stand and do what is best for the students, and that is spending a portion of our state’s debt capacity on lowering students’ bills, not padding the C.V. of some administrator that just wants more rock walls on campus. Full Post
Penn State and the Oregon University System
July 18, 2012
What did I find at the very top of organizations that I loved my whole life? I found an old boys and girls network of board staff members who would keep secrets, obviously had agendas of their own and used lame bureaucratic tricks like presenting materials to be voted on at the last possible minute before meetings, so board members would absolutely have no time to read it before voting. Full Post
Eliminating the Tax on Voting and an Endowment for Oregon Students, Both Good Ideas
December 6, 2012
This legislature can improve our democracy this session, as secretary of state Kate Brown will be proposing that the state cover the cost of vote-by-mail ballot postage. It would be a small expense but would do so much good for the poor, infirmed and others who maybe don’t often use stamps in the age of email. Only those that want to limit democratic participation for political purposes would oppose this legislative fix. It's common sense, and cheap.
Secondly, elected leaders have an opportunity to shape education past high school for decades by voting for state treasurer Ted Wheeler’s plan to craft a $6 billion dollar fund, that will generate interest to be used as grants for deserving Oregon high school graduates to attend Oregon schools. The Oregon Opportunity Initiative would create a new, more stable, independent and permanent foundation for student success. If enacted, this would be the biggest thing to happen to Oregon students since Measure 5 but this time, in a good way.
Please contact these leaders for more information, both initiatives deserve our support. Full Post