Month: February 2012

What does Oregon's new open enrollment law mean for your child?

WHAT THE LAW DOES

The new statewide open enrollment law will take effect in the 2012–2013 school year. The new law allows Oregon parents to enroll their kids in any Oregon public school district, as long as the receiving district is accepting transfers. No longer will the student’s resident school district be able to block a student’s transfer to another district. Families who live inside a district that decides to accept transfers will get first priority to transfer their children to other in-district schools. Siblings of students who are considered residents of the district will get second priority.

HOW CAN YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS NEW LAW?

Districts will announce how many transfers they will accept by March 1. By April 1 parents must request a transfer from the district they would like their child to attend for the 2012-2013 school year. Districts must notify parents if their transfer requests are accepted by May 1.

HOW LONG WILL MY CHILD BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPEN ENROLLMENT?

The open enrollment law is set to expire in the summer of 2017, except for children who are already taking advantage of the law. Once a child is accepted into another district under this law, he or she will be considered a resident of that district until he or she graduates, enrolls in another district, or becomes ineligible because of age or expulsion. Parents should note that after one year of using the program, the receiving district can transfer students to another school within that district, provided that it is in line with district policy. (Districts cannot single out certain students for transfer, nor can they give preference to new out-of-district transfers.)

WHAT IF THE SCHOOL LIMITS HOW MANY TRANSFERS IT WILL ACCEPT?

Similar to current public charter school enrollment rules, the school will not be allowed to discriminate among transfers. If not enough slots are available for all students requesting transfers, the district will hold a lottery.

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORTATION?

Parents are responsible for getting their child to an existing bus line within the district the child transfers to. Districts are allowed to provide transportation scholarships for low-income families or special bus lines, if they desire. For more information, contact the district into which you want to transfer your child.

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?

To learn more, you can contact the district you would like your child to attend, or read the bill that created open enrollment at http://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2011/HB3681/.

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Revolutionary Education Reforms…That Aren’t

Before the legislature solidifies Governor John Kitzhaber’s revolutionary new reform plan for education, let’s look back at the first big education reform of which he was a part.

In 1991, then Senate President Kitzhaber voted for The Oregon Education Act for the 21st Century. It was full of new committees, new high school CIM and CAM tests (which were eventually abandoned), and a promise from the legislature that it would produce “the best educated citizens in the nation by the year 2000.” So, how did that work out?

In both 2010 and 2011, Education Week’s Annual Education Report Card gave Oregon a grade of C-. It ranked our public education system 43rd in the nation―not exactly the best.

Now, Governor Kitzhaber has an even bigger, more revolutionary reform, not just of Kindergarten through 12th grade, but of pre-K through graduate school. It’s called the Oregon Education Investment Board.

Here is what we said about the 1991 “revolutionary” reform at the time:

“…[T]o be ‘revolutionary,’ educational change must be systemic. It must reform the system, not just add to it. Oregon’s educational reformers are unwittingly legitimizing the very system that needs reform. Well-meaning politicians have once again increased state control over education in order to mandate desirable goals. The Oregon plan provides the nation with an important lesson in reform: how easy it is to fall into the bureaucratic trap of good intentions.”

This could be just as easily said about the current misguided reform efforts. It’s time to stop increasing state control over education and start moving in the other direction.

 

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“We Have a Year to Figure out How to Violate Our Consciences”

“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience,” stated Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

Serious constitutional concerns have been consistently raised about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, known popularly as “ObamaCare”), passed by Congress in 2010. Twenty-seven states have sued the federal government on the grounds that Congress does not have authority to require their citizens to purchase a specific product or service, in this case, health insurance. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear some of these cases in March and presumably will rule on the constitutionality of the PPACA’s so-called individual mandate by the end of June.

Beyond this fundamental constitutional objection, another aspect of the PPACA recently took a disturbing turn. In August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) directed virtually all employers to include coverage of contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing pharmaceuticals without copayment in their employee insurance policies. The HHS mandate has an extremely narrow conscience exemption that will not include the vast majority of religiously affiliated employers and institutions, including hospitals, colleges, schools, and social service organizations which may object to these services on moral grounds.

So, not only does the PPACA require all Americans to purchase health coverage, but Americans can be forced to pay for―or to provide as employers and insurers―things their faith may teach are wrong.

The Catholic Church, along with faithful of other religious communities, protested. The Administration has not backed down. In fact, on January 20, 2012 President Obama called Archbishop Dolan to inform him that the conscience exemption will not be broadened. Enforcement of the mandate simply will be delayed until August 2013, at which time insurance coverage of “preventive services” must include all FDA-approved forms of contraception, including sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs.

“In effect,” Dolan said publicly in response, “the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Opponents of the HHS mandate stress that it is very troubling for the government to attempt to force members of one of the largest religions in the world, the Catholic Church, to directly participate in what their Church considers grave moral evils. If Catholic institutions can be forced to behave in contradiction to their moral beliefs, pay massive fines to the government, or close their doors, no other group can expect to have its “free exercise” of religion protected, either.

The last two weeks have seen a firestorm of protest, from the Catholic Church and from others seriously concerned about First Amendment rights. The Catholic bishops released statements denouncing the HHS decision, read from pulpits nationwide. Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Jewish, and Muslim leaders have spoken out against the mandate, noting that if “free exercise” is not respected in this case, other abuses of religious liberty and freedom of conscience surely will follow. As chancellor and CEO-elect of Reformed Theological Seminary (one of the largest Protestant seminaries in the country) Michael Milton wrote, “This is not a Catholic issue only. It is not a contraception issue. It is a religious liberty issue. It is an American issue.”

Members of the current Administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have begun referring to the First Amendment right to “free exercise” of religion as “freedom of worship.” This is dangerously incomplete. “Free exercise” of religion is more than the ability to choose the house of worship one frequents on weekends. Free exercise is the ability to live your faith and morals seven days a week.

Members of Congress have introduced legislation intended to prohibit the federal government from requiring a provider to provide, participate in, or refer for a specific health care service contrary to the provider’s religious beliefs or moral convictions (the “Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act,” or House Resolution 1179/Senate Bill 1467). But while Congressional leaders work to defend the rights of religiously affiliated organizations, they must not forget the rights of individual Americans, either.

Americans must send the federal government a clear message: Government must not abrogate the conscience rights of employers and insurance providers, and neither should it abridge the First Amendment rights of individual Americans by forcing them to participate in something to which they morally object. It was a small step from government forcing Americans to “go out into the marketplace” and buy health care to, as Archbishop Dolan said, “go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.”

 

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Testimony in opposition to SB 1581 before the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development

Opposing More Top-Down Control of Oregon Education

Chair Hass, Co-Chair Morse, and members of the Committee, my name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Portland. Our mission is to promote policies that enhance individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity in Oregon.

I’m here to oppose SB 1581 because I believe that the legislature is continuing to fall into the “bigger is better” trap. The goal of unifying everything from early childhood through graduate school education can’t be accomplished without pushing power and control even farther away from the people who should matter most—parents and students. This bill, by giving even partial control over a number of positions in Oregon’s public education system to the new Chief Education Officer, simply continues movement into that trap.

Before you approve any further Oregon Education Investment Board legislation, please ask yourselves how it squares with the Oregon Education Act for the Twenty-First Century, which overwhelmingly passed the legislature in 1991 when Governor Kitzhaber was President of the Senate.

It was full of new committees, new high school CIM and CAM tests (which were eventually abandoned), and a promise from the legislature that it would produce “the best educated citizens in the nation by the year 2000.” So, how did that work out?

In both 2010 and 2011, Education Week’s Annual Education Report Card gave Oregon a grade of C-. It ranked our public education system 43rd in the nation―not exactly best in the nation.

And how does this new effort square with the Quality Education Model, which then Governor Kitzhaber supported in 1999 by appointing the Quality Education Commission? The Model proposed entirely theoretical prototype elementary, middle, and high schools that, again theoretically and with enough funding, would get 90% of our kids to state standards. Does anyone really think that spending another two billion dollars this biennium, as the Model suggests, would do any such thing?

Why haven’t such big revolutionary reform efforts in the K-12 education system achieved their goals? Because, they “…suck power upward and away from parents and students into top down, centralized and inflexible political arrangements, where unions and other special interests have more political clout. This causes accountability to decline and results in higher per pupil costs and lower educational results.”*

Is the answer really to produce an even broader revolutionary reform effort, putting everything from early childhood education through graduate school into one centrally planned system?

I’m sure the Governor and the people he’s appointed to the Investment Board are very smart people. But no such group can hope to design a system that meets the needs of all Oregon children and their parents.

In conclusion, I want to quote from a 1991 Wall Street Journal column, “Education by Committee in Oregon,” in which we warned what would happen if the “revolutionary” Oregon Education Act for the Twenty-First Century went forward:

“…[T]o be ‘revolutionary,’ educational change must be systemic. It must reform the system, not just add to it. Oregon’s educational reformers are unwittingly legitimizing the very system that needs reform. Well-meaning politicians have once again increased state control over education in order to mandate desirable goals. The Oregon plan provides the nation with an important lesson in reform: how easy it is to fall into the bureaucratic trap of good intentions.”

Our 1991 critique could just as easily be said about the current “revolutionary” reforms through the Investment Board. It’s time to stop increasing state control over education and start moving accountability and control down toward parents and students.

Thank you.

 

* John T. Wenders, Ph.D., “Deconsolidate Oregon’s School Districts,”
Cascade Policy Institute, March 2005.

 

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Why Oregonians Deserve the Right to Work

The twenty-two states that have not required workers to join a union and pay union dues have enjoyed, as a group, more rapid employment and income growth, better job preservation, and faster recoveries from recession. Oregon is not one of those states, yet. Here, policymakers tried to pull us out of the most recent recession through greater state spending, funded by the Measure 66 and 67 tax increases. Research concluded that those measures actually will make our situation worse. Now, new research confirms that a better approach is for Oregon to remove a key barrier to private sector initiative and job creation by enacting a so-called “right-to-work” law.

Right-to-work laws provide job seekers and current employees the right to work for a company whether or not they choose to join a union. On February 1 Indiana became the twenty-third Right-to-Work state when its Senate approved a bill and Governor Mitch Daniels signed it into law.

A new study from Cascade Policy Institute (Right to Work Is Right for Oregon) examines the economic impacts right-to-work legislation would have on Oregon. The study is consistent with the vast majority of peer-reviewed research in finding that if Oregon were a right-to-work state, we would see improved employment and income growth. For example, enacting right-to-work legislation this year would lead to:

  • 50,000 more people working in five years; 110,000 more working in ten years.
  • $2.7 billion more in wage and salary income in five years; $7.0 billion more in ten years.
  • 14 percent more taxpaying families per year moving into Oregon from non-right-to-work states.

A right-to-work law can be viewed as part of a pro-investment package that encourages firms to locate and expand in the state. In turn, the improved opportunities would have the effect of attracting more taxpaying families to Oregon from other states, while slowing down the number who leave. By examining IRS mobility data, we found that a right-to-work policy here would increase net in-migration from non-right-to-work states by 14 percent from what it otherwise would be. That is a significant number of new families bringing their earning power and their consumer needs with them. Think how our depressed housing market could benefit from such a trend.

Our study breaks new ground by covering 70 years of data and every state and relying on what we believe to be the largest datasets ever used to study the impacts of right-to-work laws. The results demonstrate more than just a correlation between right-to-work policy and economic growth, but point toward a causal link. In other words, we conclude that the right to work actually contributes to more employment, higher incomes, more net in-migration of taxpaying households, and faster economic growth. It is, therefore, a policy we believe Oregon should adopt.

Unlike fiscal policies that must weigh spending against taxes or pit one government program against another, enacting right-to-work legislation will not take a single dime out of state coffers. Indeed, right-to-work legislation is one of the few pro-growth policies that are actually costless to enact.

Oregonians need to recognize that capital and people are mobile. Tax measures 66 and 67 push high-income people and corporations away from the state and likely will lose Oregon up to 70,000 jobs and 80,000 high-income tax filers in the ten years after their passage. Enacting a right-to-work law will put mobility to work in our favor, likely adding 110,000 jobs in ten years and 14 percent more taxpaying families from non-right-to-work states every year.

Even if our research had not shown so clearly that Oregon’s economic prospects would improve as a right-to-work state, we still would support the policy based on the non-economic benefits that the name itself implies. It is unconscionable that workers are denied the right to earn a living simply because they decline to join a union. Basic principles of liberty and justice demand that we defend everyone’s right to work without third-party interference. The right to work is, therefore, a moral as well as an economic imperative.

Click here to read the full report.

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Why Oregonians Deserve the Right to Work

The twenty-two states that have not required workers to join a union and pay union dues have enjoyed, as a group, more rapid employment and income growth, better job preservation, and faster recoveries from recession. Oregon is not one of those states, yet. Here, policymakers tried to pull us out of the most recent recession through greater state spending, funded by the Measure 66 and 67 tax increases. Research concluded that those measures actually will make our situation worse. Now, new research confirms that a better approach is for Oregon to remove a key barrier to private sector initiative and job creation by enacting a so-called “right-to-work” law.

Right-to-work laws provide job seekers and current employees the right to work for a company whether or not they choose to join a union. On February 1 Indiana became the twenty-third Right-to-Work state when its Senate approved a bill and Governor Mitch Daniels signed it into law.

A new study from Cascade Policy Institute (Right to Work Is Right for Oregon) examines the economic impacts right-to-work legislation would have on Oregon. The study is consistent with the vast majority of peer-reviewed research in finding that if Oregon were a right-to-work state, we would see improved employment and income growth. For example, enacting right-to-work legislation this year would lead to:

  • 50,000 more people working in five years; 110,000 more working in ten years.
  • $2.7 billion more in wage and salary income in five years; $7.0 billion more in ten years.
  • 14 percent more taxpaying families per year moving into Oregon from non-right-to-work states.

A right-to-work law can be viewed as part of a pro-investment package that encourages firms to locate and expand in the state. In turn, the improved opportunities would have the effect of attracting more taxpaying families to Oregon from other states, while slowing down the number who leave. By examining IRS mobility data, we found that a right-to-work policy here would increase net in-migration from non-right-to-work states by 14 percent from what it otherwise would be. That is a significant number of new families bringing their earning power and their consumer needs with them. Think how our depressed housing market could benefit from such a trend.

Our study breaks new ground by covering 70 years of data and every state and relying on what we believe to be the largest datasets ever used to study the impacts of right-to-work laws. The results demonstrate more than just a correlation between right-to-work policy and economic growth, but point toward a causal link. In other words, we conclude that the right to work actually contributes to more employment, higher incomes, more net in-migration of taxpaying households, and faster economic growth. It is, therefore, a policy we believe Oregon should adopt.

Unlike fiscal policies that must weigh spending against taxes or pit one government program against another, enacting right-to-work legislation will not take a single dime out of state coffers. Indeed, right-to-work legislation is one of the few pro-growth policies that are actually costless to enact.

Oregonians need to recognize that capital and people are mobile. Tax measures 66 and 67 push high-income people and corporations away from the state and likely will lose Oregon up to 70,000 jobs and 80,000 high-income tax filers in the ten years after their passage. Enacting a right-to-work law will put mobility to work in our favor, likely adding 110,000 jobs in ten years and 14 percent more taxpaying families from non-right-to-work states every year.

Even if our research had not shown so clearly that Oregon’s economic prospects would improve as a right-to-work state, we still would support the policy based on the non-economic benefits that the name itself implies. It is unconscionable that workers are denied the right to earn a living simply because they decline to join a union. Basic principles of liberty and justice demand that we defend everyone’s right to work without third-party interference. The right to work is, therefore, a moral as well as an economic imperative.

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Press Release: Cascade Policy Institute Report predicts 110,000 jobs for Oregon with enactment of a Right-to-Work Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 2, 2012

Contact:

Steve Buckstein
Senior Policy Analyst & Co-Founder
Cascade Policy Institute
Office Phone: 503-242-0900
E-Mail: steven@cascadepolicy.org

Cascade Policy Institute Report predicts over 100,000
jobs for Oregon with enactment of a Right-to-Work law

Cascade Policy Institute just released a major economic study, The Right to Work Is Right for Oregon, which concludes that Oregon would see major economic benefits if it became a right-to-work state, where job seekers and employees are not forced to join a union and pay union dues to gain or keep their jobs.

Written by Randall Pozdena and Eric Fruits, the same Oregon economists who analyzed the negative impact of tax measures 66 and 67, the Right-to-Work study concludes that enacting right-to-work legislation this year would lead to:

  • 50,000 more people working here in five years; 110,000 more working here in ten years.
  • $2.7 billion more in wage and salary income in five years; $7.0 billion more in ten years.
  • 14 percent more taxpaying families per year moving into Oregon from non-right-to-work states.

Cascade Senior Policy Analyst and founder Steve Buckstein praised the study for not only finding a correlation between right-to-work policy and economic growth, but for actually pointing to a causal link. In other words, Buckstein stated:

We conclude that the right to work actually contributes to more employment, higher incomes, more net in-migration of taxpaying households and faster economic growth. It is, therefore, a policy we believe Oregon should adopt.

The study breaks new ground by covering 70 years of data, every state, and relying on what the authors believe to be the largest datasets ever used to study the impacts of right-to-work laws.

The study confirms that the twenty-two states that do not require workers to join a union and pay union dues enjoy, as a group, more rapid employment and income growth, better job preservation, and faster recoveries from recession. Oregon is not one of those states, yet. Buckstein argues:

Rather than repeat Oregon’s failed attempt to pull us out of recession by raising taxes on high-income individuals and corporations, a better approach is to remove a key barrier to private sector initiative and job creation by enacting an Oregon right-to-work law.

Buckstein added,

Oregonians need to recognize that capital and people are mobile. Tax measures 66 and 67 push high-income people and corporations away from the state, likely losing us up to 70,000 jobs and 80,000 high-income tax filers in the ten years after their passage. Enacting a right-to-work law will put mobility to work in our favor, likely adding 110,000 jobs in ten years and 14 percent more taxpaying families every year coming from non-right-to-work states.

Buckstein continued,

Unlike fiscal policies that must weigh spending against taxes or pit one government program against another, enacting right-to-work legislation will not take a single dime out of state coffers. Indeed, right-to-work legislation is one of the few pro-growth policies that are actually costless to enact.

Buckstein concludes,

Even if our research had not so clearly shown that Oregon’s economic prospects would improve as a right-to-work state, we still would support the policy based on the non-economic benefits that the name itself implies. Everyone should have the right to work if the employer hires them and they accept the position. No third party should be able to deny individuals the right to work simply because they decline to join a union. Right-to-work is, therefore, a moral as well as an economic imperative.

Click here to download the full report.

###

The Right to Work Is Right for Oregon
A Comprehensive Analysis of the Economic Benefits
from Enacting a Right-to-Work Law
By Randall Pozdena, Ph.D. and Eric Fruits, Ph.D.
Cascade Policy Institute • February 2012
http://cascadepolicy.org/links/43

 

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