Oregon fails its children. You can help them succeed.

Betsy Hammond in the Oregonian:

Oregon has the fourth-worst high school graduation rate in the nation, according to the federal government’s most accurate state-by-state report on the topic.

Just 68 percent of Oregon high school students in the class of 2011 earned a diploma in four years, according to data released Monday.

At Springfield High School, three miles from UO, that rate is just 60%. If you are a UO professor, volunteer to join the SAIL program at sail.uoregon.edu. We know how to get these kids on the college track, we’ve got the results to prove it, and we know how to effectively use your abilities as a college professor to expand the program to more students. We have started a new SAIL program at PSU, with the same goal, and we can use more volunteers there as well. We have also received lots of invaluable help from UO staff and OAs, and from UO students volunteering as mentors, and we welcome more. Thanks! 11/28/2012.

guns, tobacco, and pot

10/15/2011: Dennis Richardson, probably the most conservative, balanced budget, family values representative in the state legislature, speaks out on federal meddling in Oregon’s largest agricultural success story:

During a tour Thursday of a medical marijuana farm outside Jacksonville, Republican Rep. Dennis Richardson said some growers are abusing Oregon’s medical marijuana law, but law enforcement should be left to Oregon.

Not exactly what you’d expect given Rep. Richardson’s official bio:

… volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1969. Dennis is a decorated, veteran helicopter pilot who served in Chu Lai, Viet Nam. After returning from Viet Nam, Dennis attended college and worked as a carpenter. … Dennis attended Brigham Young University, Harbor College, and various U.S. Army officer and pilot training schools. 

Meanwhile, UO has just decided to go smoke free. That’s right, no tobacco on campus, just medical marijuana. And, of course, while they will now bust you for a cigarette, it’s no problem if you want to bring your Glock to class. And people think this state has no diversity?

$42 million too much

9/22/2011: From Jeff Mapes in the Oregonian:

Oregon legislators are learning that the already battered state budget is taking another $42 million hit because Gov. John Kitzhaber’s settlement with state labor unions came in over the limit he had initially set on pay increases.

The additional cost of the union settlement means that lawmakers may have to cut more deeply into public services when they meet in February.

Pernsteiner’s maid service may even be on the table.

Oregon economy

7/25/2010: A long, depressing post about the Oregon economy and the state budget, from Harry Esteve in the Oregonian:

… State expenses, including payroll, health and retirement benefits, and debt payments, are slated to rise by nearly $4 billion over the next two years — a 26 percent jump. During the same period, however, revenues to pay those expenses are expected to increase by a little less than $2 billion, or about 14 percent — and that assumes a return to a robust economy.

… Anyone remember 2007? Oregon unemployment was at a comfortable 4.5 percent and money from 2006 taxes poured into the state treasury. Lawmakers smacked their lips at pre-recession projections that showed long-term surpluses despite hints of a downturn.

They boosted spending on schools, increased state police ranks to ensure 24-hour road coverage, greatly increased state subsidies of green energy projects and borrowed heavily to pay for millions of dollars in modernization projects on college and university campuses.”It was a huge mistake,” says Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, a consistent voice for fiscal conservatism in the Legislature. Overall, state spending increased by more than 23 percent over two years, Richardson points out. “Anyone could see we could not sustain that.”

… For decades, we put ourselves at the same status level as Washington, our wealthier sister to the north. Now, Tapogna says, “we are beginning to look a lot more like Idaho.”

… As the rest of the nation slowly drags itself out of the recession, Oregon may have trouble keeping up. That’s because the state’s economy has undergone a fundamental change over the past decade, analysts say. Since 1997, Oregon workers have seen a steady erosion in their earning power, from 97 percent of the national average down to 91 percent. 

Wages in Oregon will not go up until the state has better educated workers. The state is not going to be able to pay for that education.

Gambling

11/15/2009: From Brent Walth in the Oregonian:

More than half the money the lottery collects from video gambling — about $375 million last year — comes from a small number of Oregonians, many with big gambling problems. These gamblers tell the lottery they lose more than $500 a month, every month. They represent only 10 percent of Oregon’s video gamblers but account for 53 percent of the money lost, according an analysis of three years’ worth of the lottery’s data obtained by The Oregonian under the state’s public records law.