our state. Lawmakers in Salem used this new money to significantly boost spending for schools. According to data from the National Education Association (NEA), Oregon’s average spending per student in 2017-18 ranked 22nd in the nation, up from 25th the year before and 27th in 2011-12.
The state’s investments in schools over the last six years have been important. But even with those increases, we’re losing teaching positions, class sizes are still too large and the state’s graduation rates is still one of the worst in the nation. The culprit: much of the money doesn’t make it to the classroom because of the growing cost of PERS, the state’s public employee retirement plan.
Last week the Oregon House passed a new tax on business expected to raise $1 billion a year for schools. The Senate is expected to pass it any day now. To protect the kids in our classrooms, Oregon urgently needs PERS reforms. The time is now. New money alone won’t make our schools better if legislators fail to address the $26 billion PERS debt.
As the Albany Democrat-Herald editorialized this week: “It's up to the Legislature to take action, and the pressure for state leaders to do so likely only will mount as the clock ticks down the days until adjournment.”
Contact your legislators now. Let them know you want real PERS reforms that protect funding for the kids in our classrooms and other services from cuts caused by rising PERS pension costs. Tell them they shouldn’t go home without it.