Education is vitally important to the health and well-being of our communities. Young people need an education so that they can return to their roots, start businesses, contribute to their communities through volunteerism and an understanding of the complex issues facing small communities, and with the tools to make a difference. Oregon Promise is a great way for students to begin, but we can do more. We should make sure that busses running between Community College campuses and out to our smallest communities are available and run when students need them. We should expand the offerings for an AA degree. We should make it easier to afford getting your B.A. at an Oregon public university, or receive training at a trade school.
As for K-12, we need to offer a world-class education that fits individual needs and that inspires students to graduate. School should fit to the learning styles and interests of students, making school so interesting that students are excited to learn, and look forward to attending. Students must not only feel safe, but be safe. No one should be afraid to speak up in class, be afraid the that they will be humiliated in front of peers, or not be given the help then need immediately in order to be successful. They should have safe places to go and adults to talk to when bullied, so that the bullying can be addressed and stopped.Effective processes should be in place for when students feel vulnerable, effective coping mechanism taught, and inclusive behaviors should be taught so that inclusiveness is the default response of all students and staff.
In addition, true local control over schools, including how subjects are taught and what is learned, the school calendar, and every aspect of the school day should be up to the local community and school staff. Schools will want to meet the standards for entrance into all types of higher education; they should be free to do so in the ways that fit each community best and to learn from each other’s experiences.
A part of reforming education can be found in reforming the criminal justice system. It costs an average of $2,000/month to keep one person in prison. That’s more than many of our families earn. We can do a better job of using these tax dollars by providing community-based treatment for low-level drug offenders, and community monitoring, such as ankle bracelets, for non-violent offenders, which are much less expensive to implement and oversee. Savings can be used to help balance the budget and to fund educational needs, among other uses. In addition, when a parent isn’t locked up, the family stays intact, their wages are still available to support the family–resulting in less need for government assistance. Thus we can have stronger communities, better education, and a healthier state budget.