Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve… But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn’t belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish that law without delay … No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic. — Frederic Bastiat

The simple part is the plan; the difficult part is overcoming the prejudice and inertia of the state legislature, the various unions, and the current administration. I am, however, convinced that these concepts would work and benefit Oregon students and teachers, even if it is at the expense of the other interests that typically profit from the current system.

The basic concepts of the plan are to promote: choice, efficiency and delegation of authority to the educators who are responsible for the success of the system.

Choice:

Oregon has a responsibility to ensure an adequate education to every citizen. This does not mean that the state must be the direct provider. It does not matter if the state runs a school or a private group does, so long as we provide the funds and opportunity for children to receive a quality education, and the consensus is that we are successful.

With that in mind, the policy of our system should be that the funding follows every child.

Regardless of whether parents choose to place their children in a public or private institution, the funding should follow them. If our public schools are unable to compete in the face of already having first-mover advantage, the advantages of pre-existing infrastructure, the advantages of geography and a historical customer relationship, then so be it. If an institution is incapable of competing when it already has almost all of the common strategic advantages, why would we confine children to it? Who exactly are we trying to protect?

That being said, I do not expect the mass exodus some might predict. There may be some dramatic shifts that impact some specific schools, perhaps. But our state institutions will adjust until they are providing the services desired by the communities in which they are located, and their economies of scale will ultimately allow them to compete.

If our legislature lacks the fortitude required to implement the above, at the very least we should provide a 100% tax credit for all tax payers who pay for private educational expenses for their children, with a maximum limit of the amount of their taxes that would have otherwise funded public education. It is immoral to require people to pay into the system twice and this would still provide some Oregonians with additional options.

Efficiency:

Our current system suffers from grave amounts of administrative bloat. I recommend reducing the administrative and non-teacher staff by 75% and using the excess funds to hire more teachers (loosely defined as people who spend more than 80% of their compensated time directly instructing students, providing office hour tutoring and consulting with parents/guardians). This may require substantial cuts, however, administration is ultimately overhead and does not provide as much value-add as an instructor in the classroom can.

Delegation:

It is my firm belief that our system would function with greater efficiency if the decision making processes were delegated lower in our organizations. It would perform better by giving local boards more power to determine the standards under which their districts would operate, and by empowering the current teachers to form their own governing structures that decide matters of curriculum and process. Districts that engage in enterprising new ideas which turn out to be successful will cross pollinate them to others. Meanwhile, a disastrous idea will not undermine the entire system, as it does when it originates from a central authority.

Our teachers understand the requirements of the students they work with on a daily basis. Our boards are closer in proximity to the communities they serve. I trust them. You should too.

About Funding:

Our education system does not have a funding problem. The issues are political and systemic, and additional funding would simply aggravate them – simply doing more of the same old wrong things is akin to throwing gasoline on a fire in an attempt to douse it.

I received a survey from the Parents Education Association. I have a small stack of surveys on my desk and will be working through them over the next few evenings and it is my intent to respond to all such inquiries in public. You will notice that these surveys are definitely push polls and the recipients want a particular response. In some cases they will receive it, however, I will be particular in my responses.

Survey:

Question 1. I support the present freedom from state certification enjoyed by teachers and administrators of private schools.

Answer: Generally Agree — Private educational institutions should be allowed to operate in the manners that they and their customers prefer, and hire the staff of their choosing.

Question 2. I support maintaining the current compulsory educational attendance age of seven years of age, rather than lowering it to six.

Answer: No Opinion — This question implies that I support compulsory attendance. I do not.

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A very “radical” Bloomberg opinion piece was written by Laurence Kotlikoff, and you can find it here.

Mr. Kotlikoff, I disagree. Not that we aren’t bankrupt, but your assertation that we don’t even know it. Many of us have known this for decades. Some for years, but it has been a well known fact. Its just that the media has been helping the government play let’s pretend we are ostriches.

Submitted for your approval, Karl Denninger’s comments about your article.

In Oregon we have two mainstream Governor’s candidates that are in denial about this reality as well: that the U.S. is bankrupt; that Oregon is bankrupt. They talk about tax cuts and new government subsidies while the entire system is crashing and burning to the ground.

I am waiting for one of them to prove to me that they are not completely ignorant of these facts. So far I have been thoroughly disappointed.

Dear Dr. Kitzhaber,

I have been reading opinion articles and it has come to my attention that one of your opponents, Chris Dudley – R, has the appearance of being either unable or incapable of providing you with a proper debate, as is the custom of these types of contests.  Although I am not normally in favor of this particular form of political contest as I believe the format does not really provide the best opportunities for issues to be explored in depth, it is understood that a large number of Oregonians appreciate the process, and would like the opportunity to hear your stances on particular issues as well as have them properly debated and challenged in such a forum.

Since, by most appearances, Mr. Dudley is disinclined, or incapable due to his busy schedule, to present himself at this time to offer cogent and articulate counterpoints in that forum, I would be willing to do so in order to ensure that you would not suffer the indignity of being on stage alone for lack of any opposition.

Hopefully this issue will be resolved and am willing to provide my services if necessary.

Sincerely,

Wes Wagner

Libertarian Candidate for Governor

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