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The Future of Public Education in Oregon

KLCC presents monthly news features about The Future of Public Education in Oregon.  The series is reported by Jacob Lewin and Karen Richards, and funded by The Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics.

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Episode 1 - July 13, 2016
Oregon Schools on the Road to Majority Minority by Jacob Lewin

Twenty years from now, based on existing trends, Oregon public schools will be majority minority. Oregon still has a ten-point achievement gap between minorities and whites, and as students of color become a larger part of the school population, closing that gap becomes more important.

Episode 2 - August 23, 2016
Oregon Teachers Ready for New Federal Educational Law, by Karen Richards
It takes only a moment to sign a major bill into law. It will take years to implement a new Federal education policy. Oregon educators look forward to the possible impacts of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Episode 3:  September 22, 2016 
The Teacher Shortage is Here, by Jacob Lewin
Oregon's economy has been on the upswing and that's having unforeseen effects.  For some Oregon school districts, it's contributing to a serious shortage of teachers.  For the rest, that shortage is likely to be just around the corner.  It is one of the major challenges facing public schools today.

Episode 4:  October 25, 2016
Student Athletes Enhance Campus and Community, by Karen Richards
There is valid controversy about spending on college athletics. There are unresolved problems with the monetization of big sports. Those issues aside, college athletics are entwined on campuses in multiple, positive ways.

Episode 5: November 3, 2016
Measure 97 Could Impact Higher Ed, by Jacob Lewin
In recent years, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University together have increased enrollment by more than 10-thousand undergraduates. The number of in-state students has been relatively flat. The new dependence on out-of-state students raises a lot of questions.  Meanwhile the corporate tax measure 97, on the ballot next week, may have an impact on that trend.

Episode 6:  December 21, 2016
Good Intentions, Tough Realities for Student Debt, by Karen Richards
Oregon's legislature faces a tricky budget balancing act next year. For college aid, the governor recommends a focus on the student side of the equation. Given the budget's overall $1.7 billion dollar shortfall, it remains impossible to provide all the help Oregon's higher education needs.  

Episode 7:  January 17, 2017
Oregon Moves Slowly to Fill Minority Teacher Gap, by Jacob Lewin
Nationally nearly half of all public school students are minorities. Just 18% of teachers are people of color.  In Oregon, the disparity is even greater, although efforts are underway to close the gap.

Episode 8:  February 22, 2017
Universities Struggle to Integrate Foreign Students, by Karen Richards

Oregon's higher ed campuses are always working to integrate their international students with each other.  Their greater goal is to create a cultural exchange across the entire institution.

Episode 9:  March 14, 2017
More Charter Schools Expected in Oregon, by Jacob Lewin

President Donald Trump has vowed to increase school choice around the country and his education secretary Betsy DeVos is a champion of Charter schools.  Oregon already has 120 charters with 30,000 kids.  We will likely be seeing more.

Episode 10:  April 28, 2017
Evaluating the State of State Tests, by Karen Richards
Standardized state tests have been around for over 50 years. They've had opposition for nearly as long. Oregon's "Smarter Balanced" assessments of the past three years spawned a strong opt-out movement. Some of the tests' flaws and hiccups have been fixed. This story looks at the work that remains to be done.

Episode 11:  May 8, 2017
Robots Are Coming and Oregon Community Colleges Are Trying to Deal With It, by Jacob Lewin 
KLCC explores how Oregon’s community colleges are coping with the challenges of providing skills for jobs that will likely not be automated or off-shored and pay relatively well.

Episode 12:  June 9, 2017
Rural Oregon School District Copes With Shrinking Budget, by Karen Richards

Oregon is consistently ranked among the worst states for school funding. It has shorter school years, more students per class, and lower graduation rates than most places in the country. Experts trace the beginning of the trend to the passage of Measure 5 in 1990. It largely separated school funding from local property taxes, giving the job to the state. Today, schools must be creative and resourceful. KLCC looks at how one district copes with persistent tightening.

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View the 2017 series on Borders, Migration and Belonging, also funded by the Wayne Morse Center for Law & Politics.

View the 2018 series on Native Voices, funded by the Wayne Morse Center for Law & Politics and made possible by a grant from the KLCC Public Radio Foundation.


Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.