Common Sense Candidates Committed To Improving Schools For All Families: Maria Lopez-Dauenhauer (Zone 1) • Wendy Imel (Zone 2) • Gregg Henton (Zone 4) • Jon Haffner (Zone 7)
1. Opening All Schools & Athletics
Oregon schools closed in March 2020 and, for the following 12+ months, students were deprived of in-person classroom instruction.
The long-term damage and disadvantages of restricted education and stunted early social development have yet to be calculated, but the consequences will be far reaching — particularly to all single-parent and lower-income families.
It’s become increasingly clear that school closures have led to dismal results for many students. We’re seeing an unprecedented rise in student failure rates for the 2020-21 academic school year. This NWEA Learning During COVID-19 report found that compared to fall 2019, students in grades 3-8 lost up to 10 points in math in 2020.
In June 2020, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued written guidance on the critical importance: “Schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being and provide our children and adolescents with academic instruction, social and emotional skills, safety...and mental health therapy, and opportunities for physical activity, among other benefits. [...] The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”
Regardless of expert opinions, schools remained closed in Oregon while other states stayed open. And it wasn’t ever put to a vote. Parents’ voices were neglected as Oregon’s Governor made executive decisions and current school board members didn’t fight back, severely damaging families and their futures. Devastation defined by missed education and lost scholarship opportunities. And in the worst cases, teen suicides.
In January 2021, the AAP reiterated their concerns: “Children absolutely need to return to in-school learning for their healthy development and well-being, and so safety in schools and in the community must be a priority,” AAP President Lee Savio Beers, said in a news release. “We know that some children are really suffering without the support of in-person classroom experiences or adequate technology at home.”
We stand alongside and speak out for all parents who recognize that, in many ways, the cure has been worse than the disease. Today, with vaccines available, there are no more excuses, except by those who want to keep the “new normal” for their convenience. We refuse to accept it.
As of April 11, 2021, Oregon Health Authority officials reported 499 new cases of COVID-19, and no new deaths. Considering Oregon state’s population of 4,289,440, the total death toll since the virus emerged is 2,440, representing 0.00057% and comprised primarily of victims over 65 in age and with preconditions. It’s a tragedy, but we can no longer permit our children to be the victims in untold numbers and circumstances.
“Abundant evidence makes clear that in-person learning poses little health risk—and that keeping children home is doing serious damage to them, their parents, and the economy,” writes Joel Zinberg in City Journal. Don’t Wait to Reopen Schools
It’s time to open schools and keep them open. Time for students to get back to learning full-time — back in class, back with friends, back to playing sports, and being active.
Their lives depend on it.
2. Academic Achievement & Improving Curriculum
Long before the pandemic, Oregon academic achievement has lagged far behind other states.
A 2019 WalletHub study reported that Oregon schools ranked among the lowest in the nation. “Compared to the other 50 states and Washington, D.C., Oregon came in at #44 — squarely in the bottom ten school systems in the nation. It ranked almost equally low in both ‘quality’ and ‘safety.’”
The Student Success Act (SSA) was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown in May 2020. SSA will provide an additional $1 billion a year to address statewide education issues including student mental health, swelling class sizes, early childhood education and barriers to on-time graduation. Fifty percent of the money will go to K-12 districts, 20% to early learning and 30% to state-wide initiatives such as the High School Success fund. Let's spend it wisely.
We want to ensure that our children are receiving the best education possible, which means making sure they are being and inspired.
We want a world class curriculum that teaches the foundational knowledge needed for success: reading, writing, math and science.
We want students to be challenged, not coddled by inflating grades or avoiding test scores. To compete in the real world, they must earn their grades and demonstrate proficiency.
Moreover, there's also a great untapped opportunity to put emphasis on trade schools. Young people should be exposed to all things and given choices on all paths available to them. Not everyone wants to be college-bound and saddled with exorbitant debt to follow. Some will naturally gravitate towards trades that will empower them with valuable technical skills to pursue productive and successful lives.
3. Raising Standards, Measuring Performance & Improving Results
In order to compete globally, we must do better.
We need to teach students to think creatively about solving complex problems, rather than the current focus on formulas and procedures. Our students must be prepared for college programs and careers that value sophisticated thinking and data science. Students need the best instruction today for the jobs of tomorrow.
In December 2020, the AP reported: “The first report cards of the school year are arriving with many more Fs than usual is a dismal sign of the struggles students are experiencing with distance learning.
“It was completely off the rails from what is normal for us, and that was obviously very alarming,” said Erik Jespersen, principal of Oregon’s McNary High School, where 38% of grades in late October were failing, compared with 8% in normal times.
According to The Oregonian in 2019: “Oregon schools recorded their poorest performance in the five-year history of Oregon’s current reading, writing and math tests this spring, registering year-over-year declines in every grade level and among nearly every demographic group, scores released Thursday show.
The scores indicate only 40% of students across grades three through eight have mastered math and just over half can read and write proficiently.”
Despite this, earlier this year, Oregon education leaders asked to skip the standardized tests. Federal education leaders reject Oregon’s effort to fully skip standardized tests
We believe that education requires high standards, academic rigor and discipline, and the ability to measure performance to evaluate results — of both students and teachers.
We believe students and their families deserve better.
4. Less Politics, More Learning
It’s time to de-politicize our schools.
For decades, co-opted and coerced by special interests and political activists, our classrooms have served as the open battlefront for the culture war. In 2020, with cities burning, statues falling, schools renamed, and historical figures being cancelled, we witnessed the tragic results of poor education on display in the streets: Angry and uninformed mobs, misguided by divisive theories and ill-suited with useless degrees for gainful employment and productive lives.
As students, our children shouldn’t be experiments in social engineering. See Parents Guide To Politics In The Classroom
Instead of teaching concepts and theories that lead them to dislike America, dismiss our nation's heritage, distrust law enforcement, blame others, and detest those who have achieved financial success, they should be inspired to dream the impossible, achieve greatness and share it with the world. Our children are the future.
We’re witnessing an accelerated trend toward new learning standards that focus on “systems of oppression,” where teachers are evaluated on how engaged they become in political causes, rather than how much their students understand basic history, literacy and numeracy.
We’re not afraid and won’t be intimidated, and we know most parents feel the same. Eyes have been opened. We stand for them.
We believe it’s critical to get back-to-basics and common-sense in the classrooms: restoring unity among all Americans and healing by focusing on foundational education, a shared love of liberty and freedom for all, and national pride. United we stand, divided we fall.
e pluribus unum—out of many, one.
5. Safe Classrooms & Student Mental Health
We believe in making sure that the nation’s school safety protocols and best practices are in place and regularly maintained.
CDC data reveals a 24 percent increase in emergency room mental health visits for children ages 5 to 11, compared to 2019. Among adolescents ages 12 to 17, that increase is 31 percent. Last summer, the CDC reported that one in four young adults had contemplated suicide in the previous month. Governor Brown made this comment that attempts among our youth have INCREASED: “I talked with the CEO and President of Salem Health on my vaccination tour this week,” said Gov. Brown. “She is hearing of many 11 and 12-year-olds attempting suicide.”
We also believe in ensuring the health and well-being of all students, which means providing the resources and opportunities to address problems before they happen.
After reported investigations, we know that most major tragedies may have been avoided by early detection, treatment and reporting.
We must learn from these experiences and act accordingly.
6. Accountability & Transparency
Education is both a right and privilege, but it isn’t free; it comes with a cost that must be paid for every year, and ever increasingly.
Taxpayers and parents are both the investors and stakeholders in our children’s future and the customers who deserve to know what they’re getting. They should have a voice and ability to demand research-based classroom practices that encourage district-wide core competency expectations.
7. Advocating for Parents & Their Children
The pandemic of 2020 was a national tragedy on many levels, and one of the primary casualties were students.
With schools in Oregon shut down while other states stayed open, parents were insufficiently told to trust the “experts” and “science.”
We now know there are always two sides to a story and the essence of science is rigorous challenge and transparency. When certain experts say one thing and others say something different, who decides?
Many parents and their students had strong opinions but felt their voices weren’t being heard. This can never happen again.
We are parents, not politicians. And we will represent students and their families at all times, not special interest groups. We will honor those who voted for us, the parents, because that’s how it should work.
8. Fiduciary Duty & Fiscal responsibility
America spends billions on education -- are we seeing the results?
According to Education Data, federal, state, and local governments spend $720.9 billion, or $14,840 per pupil, to fund K-12 public education. The United States spends an average $15,908 per pupil on postsecondary education and $33,063 per pupil on graduate and postgraduate education.
The Oregon Legislative Revenue Office reports in 1992-93, the state sent school districts about $5,100 per student. In 2018-19, the state is sending districts about $10,000 per student.
According to The Oregonian, “Portland Public Schools spent $12,400 per student during 2015-16, putting Oregon's largest district among the Top 20 biggest spenders among large U.S. school districts, new federal figures show.”
And according to the latest by Public School Review, the state of Oregon now spends $12,363 per student..
Are we getting what we pay for?
We don’t believe that shortcomings in education—disappointing academic achievement, low testing scores and high dropout rates—are the results of too little money. We believe improvements can be made and efficiencies achieved by spending smarter
Every family must manage a budget and learn to live within it. We should figure out how to do more with less, or at least maximize results for what we have. We teach this to our kids.
We must practice what we preach.