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Clackson Newsletter

January 2017

In this Issue:

February Unit Meetings

A Day to Remember

County Commissioners Position 5

Postsecondary Education Summary

Urban/Rural Reserves

Legislative Reports

Coming Events

February Unit Meetings:
Public Postsecondary Education in Oregon

LWVOR’s current postsecondary education position dates from 1985 and focuses primarily on funding. It is seriously out of date. State funding support nationwide has declined drastically since that time, and Oregon’s universities and community colleges have been especially hard hit. In addition, major changes in policy and governance of our universities have been adopted since 2011.Please join us for a consensus discussion at February units to help LWVOR develop a new position to address the changing needs of postsecondary education in the 21st century. Please read the study report mailed to all members in January. An executive summary and consensus questions are included in this issue of the Clackson.

Unit Meeting Schedule:
Monday, February 20:
Fireside Room at Oswego Pointe (5065 Foothills Rd in Lake Oswego). Social at 5:30 pm with discussion starting at 6:00 pm. Bring a brown bag meal and a drink. Betty Barber (503-675-0594)

Wednesday, February 22: 3:00, Sandpiper Room, Provincial House, Mary's Woods (17400 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego). Jean Hoffman (503-697-0833).

Thursday, February 23: 9:15 at the home of Sylvia Smith . Sylvia Smith (503-639-4272).

Friday, February 24: 9:30 a.m., Willamette View, 12705 SE River View Road, Portland. New location in Court Building in the 4th floor parlor. The building is across from the Plaza where meetings are usually held. Call Nancy Pratt (503-652-6583) for directions.

Lunch & Learn: March 3

Topic: May Ballot
Lake Oswego School District 25-year Sustainable Bond Financing11:30 a.m., Szechuan Kitchen, 15450 Boones Ferry Rd., Lake Oswego

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A Day to Remember: Women’s March, January 21, 2017

On January 21, League members from Clackamas County, were among the millions of people from around the globe who marched in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Portland’s event drew a crowd of 100,000, but smaller events in our area included a mini-march at Mary’s Woods, where many of our members reside. Member Deborah Ogden tells us that a group of forty enthusiastic marchers (including four men) were led by Sister Donna through the halls of Provincial House.

Several members, including Marge Easley, Lissa Willis, Emily Medley, and Carol Radich, braved the cold and rain to attend the Portland March, which was almost certainly one of the biggest events Portland has ever had, such that public transit was so overcrowded that many walked extra miles to the start of the march. Carol Radich was happy to share her story of the momentous day:

 

Saturday, the day of the March, started well. At a quick trip to Safeway in the morning, I asked the checker to add a book of bus tickets to my bill. She smiled as she handed over the tickets and asked if they were for going to the Women’s March. As soon as I said yes, I was going, a woman waiting in line behind me said she was also getting ready to go. And then the couple in line behind her said they too would be there. The checker wished us all well and asked us to remember her; she had to work but would be with us in spirit. An auspicious beginning!

A friend and I were picked up about 10:15 by my oldest son and my daughter-in-law who were going to the March and bringing their daughter (my youngest granddaughter), six-year-old Teckla. They wanted to be sure that she waspart of the movement and that she would remember this day. She will.

Traffic downtown was still light, and we found a parking place just south of the march route. As we walked toward the meeting point, we saw the sidewalks beginning to fill. There were children of all ages – babies, toddlers, and lots of little ones skipping up the street. Many had signs safety-pinned to their jackets – signs that put Trump on notice: this youngest generation would be watching and engaging!

The 11:00 Children’s Rally was packed. It began with a Native American song, followed by other music and an enthusiastic dance performance by young girls. It was raining and not always easy to see and hear, but all the children appeared happy to be there.

Minute by minute, the crowds grew. Not just families now, but women of all ages and ethnicities and plenty of men. As it neared noon, we left the area by the stage and went in search of my daughter-in-law’s sister; it was then I saw the enormity of the gathering. The nearest bridges, the Morrison and particularly the Hawthorne, were packed with walkers. And looking west from Tom McCall Park, there were people filling each street from curb to curb, as far as the eye could see.

My son and his family headed further south as my friend Pat and I made our way back towards the stage to hear what we could of the speeches. We were also trying to find friends we had hoped to meet up with, but by now the crowds were nearly impenetrable and texts were no longer getting through.

The rain was pouring, but strangers were making eye contact, smiling, sharing umbrellas, and laughing together as particularly witty placards appeared.

As we finally began to slowly march, I was surprised and happy to see my youngest son in the crowd. We walked together then, wet and cold, but happy  to be with these thousands--shouting, singing, and knowing that so many shared the same fears and the same determination. We took the bus home at the end, a bus filled with marchers, many in their pink hats. Someone asked if anyone knew how many were there that day. Cell phones were hastily consulted and when we heard 100,000, a huge cheer went up! It felt that day, on that bus, that many will come together when we are needed and we will make a difference.

 

 

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Clackamas County Commission to fill open seat

Nancy Murray
Taking over for Pam Ashland, longtime LWV observer of the Board, I will be attending the policy meetings to learn in advance what the Commission is working on before issues come to discussion at business meetings. As Jim Bernard was elected Chair in November, his former position #5 is open and in the final stages of selection. You can see the interviews online of the eight finalists (of 78 applicants), now down to three. They are: Jody Carson: A director with HealthInsight Oregon (formerly Acumentra Health), Carson, of West Linn, is a former member of the West Linn City Council (2006-2014) and has an extensive record of government and community service. Sonya Fischer: An attorney with local law firm Fischer Family Law, Fischer is a former Legislative Director for the Oregon Dept. of Human Services. She lives in Lake Oswego. Jenni Tan: An officer with Children First for Oregon (a nonprofit that advocates for children’s well-being), Tan served on the West Linn City Council from 2010-2016. She lives in West Linn.

No matter which one is selected (announcement Feb. 9), LWV member Commissioner Martha Schrader will have another female leader to serve our county with.

Public Postsecondary Education in Oregon: Executive Summary

In 2013, the League of Women Voters of Oregon voted to update their position on Postsecondary Education in Oregon. This study provides information on the current organization of education in Oregon.

Today, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require education and training beyond a high school diploma. Yet nearly half the students who begin college in this country don't finish within six years. And tuition continues to rise, putting college out of reach for the very families that need it most to join the middle class.i

Today Oregon has seven public universities and two centers and affiliates. These institutions include Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University. The centers and affiliates are Southwest Oregon University in Coos Bay and Oregon Health and Science University. In addition, Oregon has 17 separate community college districts with independent governing boards and with campuses throughout the state. The state also has many private universities and over 208 private career schools.

Recent Changes In Organization Of Postsecondary Education In Oregon
Since 2011, in recognition of the need for more advanced education for future employment and community well-being, the Oregon legislature has set educational goals and reorganized the higher education landscape. In 2011, the 40-40-20 goal (SB 252) called for a population in 2025 of which 40% of Oregonians achieve a bachelor’s degree or higher, 40% achieve an associate’s degree, technical degree or certificate, and the remaining 20% have a high school diploma. Many see the goal as aspirational. Others emphasize that that the goal drives the push to improve access to higher education and provide support for successful completion.

SB 242 established the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), consisting of 14 volunteer members appointed by the Governor. The commission appoints an executive officer. Currently HECC is an independent education unit answering directly to the governor and legislature, coordinating with other state education units. Legislative action transferred administrative authority of the Oregon Student Access Committee to the Office of Student Access and Completion under HECC, and moved authority over community colleges (Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Development) from the Department of Education to HECC.

In 2013, (ORS 352) the Legislature authorized independent boards for the University of Oregon and Portland State University. By 2015 all the universities had independent boards nominated by the Governor and approved by the Senate. The Oregon University System, Office of Chancellor, and the Board of Higher Education were abolished, and their responsibilities were divided by the Legislature between the independent boards and HECC. The new boards were given the power to manage the affairs of the University, such as choosing a president, fund raising, budgeting, and managing tuition and fees. The Boards must work with HECC, including submitting mission statements, annual evaluations, and budget requests. Substantial academic changes must be reviewed by HECC. The individual budget requests are submitted to HECC, which, in turn, compiles a combined budget request. This is then sent to the Governor to be considered as part of the Governor’s budget for recommendation to the Legislature.

HECC duties touch on all aspects of higher education, including public and private universities, colleges, career schools, community colleges, and student financial aid.

The Equity Lens and the 40-40-20 Goal
The disparity of student opportunity in higher education is a major focus in discussions of public postsecondary education in Oregon. Oregon’s Equity Lens was established to focus on these issues at all levels of education, recognizing the achievement gap between populations of communities of color, immigrants, migrants, and low income rural students, when compared to the majority population. All public higher education institutions are being asked to address these issues in their programs and supply support to allow these underrepresented groups to progress.

To meet the 40-40-20 goal, HECC is working with the universities, community colleges, and career schools to design educational programs. To meet the goal and honor the Equity Lens, the state, through HECC, the Legislature, and postsecondary institutions, is developing programs both to encourage pursuit of postsecondary education and to improve student outcomes.

A variety of programs to speed student progress and achieve better outcomes are in the early stages of implementation. These including Accelerated Learning programs beginning in high school, dual credit programs that allow the transfer of credits between institutions, credit for prior learning (allowing credit for appropriate experience and other training), Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, and better transitions between community colleges and universities.

Decreased Financial Support and Its Impact on Tuition
One major challenge for the achieving the 40-40-20 goal is the cost of higher education. State support for higher education has decreased significantly. In the 1980s, state support accounted for approximately 15% of general fund, but had dropped to about 5% by 2014. Institutions have made up for this loss of state funding through increases in tuition, which now provides approximately 60%. Although the state has increased higher education funding in recent years, state support still falls well below past levels.

Increased tuition rates provide an even greater challenge to meeting the goals of the Equity Lens. The Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) under HECC administers numerous grants, scholarships, mentoring, and financial outreach programs for students. Funding support for low-income students is provided on a federal level through Federal Student Aid and the Pell Grant program. Oregon has a number of programs that build on the federal programs, including the Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG), the largest state grant program, which has operated in various forms since 1972, and currently is funded through the general fund. This grant can be used in any Oregon higher education institution, public or private.

In the 2016-17 academic year, high school students attending a community college within six months of graduation are eligible for a new program, Oregon Promise. This “last dollar” award is currently serving 6000 students. Students must first accept all federal and state (OOG) funding. The 2015 Legislative budget provided $10 million for this program. Additional funding will be required to extend the program for the future.

Individual universities also have developed programs to support students, such as the PathwayOregon program at the University of Oregon, Western Tuition Promise at Western Oregon University, Bridge to Success at Oregon State University, and a new “Four Year Free Program” at Portland State University.

Outcomes and Accountability
HECC is responsible for measuring the effectiveness of state funding for public higher education institutions. Under ORS 251, HECC is given direct responsibility for determining the distribution of funding from the Legislature to community colleges, public universities, and student access programs. Prior to 2015-16, funding for the seven universities relied heavily on enrollment (70%). In 2014, HECC initiated a new approach, the Student Success and Completion Model (SSCM). The model has three major components: Mission Differentiation Funding, supporting regional, research and public service mission; Activity Based Funding, investing in credit hour enrollment of Oregon resident students; and Completion Funding, focusing on program completion for Oregon residents with emphasis on underrepresented populations. Community college funding continues under the Resource Allocation model. The complex nature of community college roles has made development of a SSCM model for the community colleges much more difficult.

A number of high-profile activities, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs, online education, research, and athletic programs, are among the complex aspects that HECC will continue to revise and coordinate.

In addition, HECC, in its Strategic Plan: 2016-2020, continues to monitor progress toward the 40-40-20 goal and plans to present modifications to the Legislature that better reflect needs not originally covered by the original goal. For example, HECC plans to propose a modification of the goal for Oregon’s adult population. Goals for research and graduate level education may also be addressed.

Implication and Concerns for Postsecondary Education
Funding is a major issue. With the state providing a lower level of funding, institutions must seek alternate sources of revenue. One major source is increased tuition. Also, institutions are recruiting out of state students to take advantage of higher tuitions for non-residents. Funding needs for faculty and facilities may redirect university educational priorities.

College preparedness is also a concern. Numerous programs have been developed to offer students opportunities to gain college credits in high school. However, postsecondary institutions have found that many students are inadequately prepared for college, particularly in math and written work. The need for remedial courses leads to greater expense and time to completion. Often, this leads to a student dropping out of college. Educators see a need for a support network of mentors and advisors to identify problems for students before they enter or early in their college experience and help them to progress.

The Internet is impacting the academic and social structure of colleges. Students’ expectations and communications are changing with the increased access. The technology age will change the classroom both physically and conceptually, with more online course and degree offerings. Institutions are also facing campus security challenges that may require different levels of staffing and reduce campus flexibility.

Oregon is facing the challenge of making our higher education institutions the best possible at reasonable cost and with maximum diversity. The level of state support will reflect the commitment of Oregonians to move forward towards goals of a better-educated population.

i U.S. Department of Education, College Affordability and Completion: Ensuring a Pathway to Opportunity, http://www.ed.gov/college accessed 9/19/16

For Consensus questions: http://lwvor.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Postsecondary-Education-Consensus-Questions.pdf

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Is the Urban/Rural Reserves issue finally settled?

Marge Easley, Action Chair
The League is pleased that the Board of Commissioners, under its new leadership, has taken steps to end Clackamas County’s six-year dispute with Metro over the designation of urban/rural reserves. On January 17, a directive was issued to move ahead with the designation of the four urban reserves in the unincorporated Stafford area and drop any further attempts to remove the “rural” designation from rural reserve areas south of Wilsonville, east of Candy, and near Springwater. It is also hoped that the County can now begin the process of hammering out an agreement with the three cities that adjoin the Stafford area—West Linn, Lake Oswego, and Tualatin—as well as the Stafford Hamlet, CPOs, landowners, and businesses. This is positive news, yet a disturbing new wrinkle related to rural reserves has recently surfaced, and a new land use battle is brewing. The owners of the new Subaru dealership in Wilsonville have recently purchased property just off the Charbonneau exit of I-5 for the stated purpose of storing, washing, and prepping cars, despite the property’s exclusive farm use (EFU) designation. Although the owners say they have no plans “at this time” to develop the property, Sen. Betsy Johnson (Scappoose) has just introduced Senate Bill 186 that would reclassify this particular parcel, as well as many others in Oregon, as “Rural Industrial.”

The League does not support the preemption of local decisions by the Legislature or the practice of making one-off land use decisions. We will closely monitor the progress of SB 186. In the meantime, there is a way for League members to act. Read further about this issue at http://charbonneaulive.com/2017/01/sign-the-wilsonville-subaru-petition/rhc-upcoming-events/0/, and please consider signing the petition currently being circulated by the Friends of French Prairie: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/share-the-love-honor-land-use-laws.

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Legislative Reports from the LWVOR Action Committee are now available each week of the Legislative Session. If you haven’t signed up to receive them by email and want to subscribe, please contact lwvor@lwvor.org. Here’s the first issue: http://lwvor.org/legislative-report-volume-27-number-1-january-2017/

 

Coming Events

Unit Meetings: Public Postsecondary Education Consensus: February 20-24, 2017: See page 1 for details.

LWVCC Board Meeting: Tuesday, February 28: 9:30 a.m. Social, 9:45 AM Meeting, Pacific West Bank, West Linn

Lunch and Learn: Friday, March 3: Lake Oswego School District 25-year Sustainable Bond Financing 11:30 a.m., Szechuan Kitchen, 15450 Boones Ferry Rd., Lake Oswego