Argus: Ben Unger: Economic vitality depends on strong schools today
If you’re a parent of a child in Hillsboro’s public schools, you surely noticed that the first day of school was cut right out of our calendar. This year, our first day of school was a budget cut day. There are more to come – our school year, for the second year in a row, is short a week of school.
These school cuts hurt our local economy. Creating good jobs and growing a strong economy are dependent on having a strong educational system. We will not continue to attract a strong tech sector, grow a vibrant agricultural industry or help small businesses expand without a well educated, well trained workforce.
Our future economic vitality depends on strong schools today.
Any success I will have in my life can be traced to two things: being part of a great family, and getting my education here in our local schools. I went to McKinney and St. Matthew’s Elementary Schools, JB Thomas Junior High School and HilHi. I had great teachers along the way, people that cared about my success, that challenged me and encouraged me along the way.
Something is wrong when today’s HilHi graduate goes to a month less of school than I did just eighteen years ago. Our school year is now nearly two weeks shorter than the national average. Class sizes are too big, the school year is too short and we don’t have the offerings that will help our kids – and our economy – compete in the new global economy. Average class sizes in Hillsboro’s schools have grown from twenty six students per class to thirty students per class in just five years. We’ve lost 117 teachers in the same time period.
At the same time, out of control tuition at our public colleges and universities is squeezing students from middle-class families out of the opportunities they deserve.
We can, and will, do better. I’m running for State Representative because when legislators vote for huge corporate tax breaks while cutting our schools, they clearly have the wrong priorities. We need a representative who have the right priorities in Salem. I will fight to:
• Lower class sizes by stopping wasteful tax giveaways and cutting wasteful inefficiencies and middle management to get more money into the classroom.
• Ensure that every school has a strong basic curriculum – including art, music and PE.
• Build stronger links between community colleges and Oregon businesses to get more people into jobs, faster.
• Make our public universities more affordable to middle-class families.
Let’s give our kids a chance to get started on the right foot. The success of our community, our families and our economy depend on it.