Sunday, October 12, 2008

Please Vote no on Measure 60

I had no desire to be political on this blog, but I have to urgently interrupt this blog for this measure.

I highly dislike our state's measure voting system. It's not like this in other states - that people that know little about a certain subject (like environment or education) are asked to put their vote on that issue in. That we are given the responsibility to micro-manage these various issues that the experts in that area should be doing is causing much damage as ridiculous measures get passed.

Take for instance the measure that stopped hunters from using dogs to hunt cougars and bears that passed about 14 years ago. My dad, a wildlife and fisheries biologist, was so mad that Oregonians who were not trained in managing wildlife were asked to decide something that should have been left up to the state biologists/game wardens/forestry departments to decide on. Instead, strong lobbyist groups put together their sob stories about hurting these defenseless creatures and wala, it passed. 14 years later, Portlanders are now dealing with cougar sitings in backyards, parks, and playgrounds - and people all over the state are too. It was a bad idea.

Let's let the experts in each of these fields decide policy.

So, that takes me to measure 60 - another ridiculous measure by Bill Sizemore - a measure that has been voted against once in 2000 is now up for vote again. It's trying to tie teacher's performance with their pay and unlike the last time it was on the ballot, the poles show that it's passing this time by 60%. Bill Sizemore has a long and troubling history of abusing the initiative system for his own personal financial gain, and using fraud, forgery, and racketeering to attack working Oregonians, like teachers, firefighters, and nurses.

Could there be anything more crazy?

  • Do Dentists get paid a salary based on how many cavities their patients do or do not get?
  • Do athletes signed to a contract get renegotiated mid-season to get paid according to if they win or not?
  • Do doctors get paid based on how healthy or not their patients are?

Of Course not! Tons of variables go into whether or not a patient is healthy (how do they eat, do they exercise, what are they genetically disposed to?) or if they don't get cavities (do they floss? do they eat a lot of sugar? do the brush their teeth correctly and often enough?!).

And tons of factors go into whether or not a student is successful:

  • what's their home life like? Are they just trying to survive the turmoil at home or is it a nurturing environment?
  • Is that subject a natural aptitude or a natural challenge for that student?
  • Are they trying?
  • Do they care?
  • Are they too busy?
  • And on and on....

Teachers are required to have a MASTER's Degree to teach. There is no tenure in Oregon. They can get fired at any point in their career if they truly are not doing their job well. But let's leave that to the administration to decide. Why don't we trust that dedicated professionals (principals) are doing their job right to evaluate teachers?

With the Masters degrees my husband and I have, we could do a ton of other jobs and get paid a ton more money. I left a successful career in marketing and my husband left a successful career as a civil engineer to pursue our Masters degrees in education and to teach kids. With the extreme challenges that teachers face by working with such a diverse population in their classrooms, any teacher that sticks out the LONG hours, hard work, and emotional roller coaster of teaching is doing it because they are dedicated and love kids.

As well, the burocratic nightmare it would take to enforce this measure is hard to fathom. This measure provides no procedure to determine how to even make this happen. Districts would have to hire staff with the sole job of going around and evaluating every teacher. And how do you compare (and determine a salary) for a teacher of math vs a fun elective course or gym class?

Please join me in voting no on measure 60. If this passes, my husband has sadly informed me that we would leave this state that does not support teachers to go to one that does. In November, I get to find out if I get to stay in the state that I love with the people that I love.

More info at

Here's what the Oregon Education Association says about this measure:

Why Should Oregonians Oppose Ballot Measure 60?

  • Measure 60 would take away local control from the principals, school districts, and teachers who know our schools best, and places it in the hands of government bureaucrats.

  • Measure 60 is vague, poorly worded, and full of unintended consequences. It does not define how teachers’ performance will be measured, even though their jobs and pay depend on it. It does not define who is judging teachers or how they are being judged, which could leave critical decisions about our local schools in the hands of Salem bureaucrats.

  • Measure 60 is unfair to students and teachers.
  • Measure 60 will unfairly punish teachers who take on the most challenging assignments. Teachers who work in low-income areas or have a lot of special education students will be paid less because their students may not do as well on standardized tests.
  • Measure 60 will result in more testing. Just like Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, this measure relies on more standardized testing. It will impose a heavy burden on teachers, principals and students with little impact on student success. Measure 60 will force teachers to spend time preparing students for more standardized tests rather than necessary classroom instruction.
  • Measure 60 is being pushed by Bill Sizemore. A jury found that Bill Sizemore engaged in racketeering, forgery, and fraud in the signature gathering process (click here to read more). Sizemore continues to abuse the initiative process and mislead Oregon voters. Sizemore has no background in education, but continues to promote unsuccessful initiatives that try to take away money and control from our local schools.
  • Measure 60 shortchanges our students. Instead of teaching kids to think, solve problems, and develop the skills they need to succeed, teachers will focus on preparing students to do better on standardized tests since their pay will be based on test scores. It does not define student performance, so we have no way of assessing teachers’ impact on their students.
  • Measure 60 takes money away from where our schools need it most – in the classroom.
  • Measure 60 may cost millions of dollars a year to implement. This is money better spent reinvesting in smaller class sizes, adding back lost programs, hiring more teachers, fixing leaky roofs or buying new textbooks.
  • Measure 60 has been rejected by Oregon voters once before. In 2000, a similar ballot measure was rejected by Oregonians by an overwhelming majority of more than 60%. We’ve said no to this bad idea already.

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