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Teachers will march for school funding

I was hired in 1990 by the Ashland School District to teach chemistry and physics. The science department at that time had a $10,000 supplies budget. In 2019 we have almost twice the number of students taking science and half the budget for supplies.

I depend on the Ashland Schools Foundation, community groups like Brains on Beer and other grants to buy the equipment I need to operate a true lab-based science course. I am blessed to live and teach in a community that supports my work. What about other communities that are not as blessed?

The Ashland community values public education and expresses that through their very generous financial support. The Ashland Schools Foundation has just completed another successful fund drive. Thank you to the many who donated and especially to those who donate every year. The Ashland community regularly votes to pass the YAAL (Youth Academic and Activities Levy). We actually vote to tax ourselves when state funds run short! Ashland also regularly passes bonds to support and maintain the school infrastructure. I have been blessed to teach in a community for 30 year that values education. However, schools in Oregon have been underfunded at the state level of those same 30 years. Communities should not have to fund raise to support librarians, art and music programs and science lab equipment.

Ballot Measure 5 passed in Oregon in 1990 and voters limited the allowed increases to property taxes. Many voters believed that the lost revenue would be replaced by other taxes. No one believed the state of Oregon could continue to offer exemplary public education for less and less. We have been trying to do this for 30 years and it is not working.

On May 8 there is a statewide day of action organized by the teachers around the state. We are calling on the Legislature to fill the gap Measure 5 created.

The Legislature has done the research: The Quality Education Model, QEM. The Legislature has done the listening tour: The Student Success Committee. The Legislature now has a revenue bill that taxes gross receipts in Oregon at 0.49% (yes, that is less than one-half of 1%). The Legislature must pass this bill.

In Ashland, teachers, staff, parents, students and community members will march from Ashland High, Walker and Helman schools to the Plaza to rally in support of funding our schools at a level that lets all the children of Oregon have the education they deserve.

Kate Kennedy is political action chair for the Ashland Education Association.

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