Oregon has big new ideas for education beyond high school | Chalkboard Project

Oregon has big new ideas for education beyond high school

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 Tim Nesbitt

Tim Nesbitt writes on public affairs, has served as an adviser to Govs. Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber, and is past president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He writes an opinion column for The Oregonian on alternate Tuesdays. This column was originally posted to OregonLive.com on July 9, 2013 and can be found in its entirety here .

Even with a late infusion of cash from the Legislature to moderate tuition increases, our community colleges and public universities will receive about $1,250 less per student in 2013-15 than they received from the state before the onset of the great recession five years ago. As a result, we will enter another biennium when students are forced to pay more than their predecessors and far more than their parents for the opportunity to develop their talents and contribute to our economy. This is not fair to our students and their families. And it is not a winning strategy for our state.

But lawmakers delivered more than money for higher education in Oregon this year. They launched an agenda of three big ideas that will unleash new energies and test new funding models for our postsecondary students and the community colleges and universities that serve them.

The first is the creation of university boards, which represents an institutional response to the state's failure to keep up with rising demands for higher education. Gov. John Kitzhaber and the State Board of Higher Education, prodded by the University of Oregon, pushed for more autonomy for our largest universities as a way to better meet the state's goals for college degrees. Senate Bill 270 establishes independent governing boards for UO, Portland State and, if its president chooses, Oregon State, with the hope that a new cadre of community leaders will energize private giving and public engagement on behalf of these universities and their missions.

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