Senator Jeff Kruse - May 8th, 2015 - A SHORT HISTORY LESSON


Senator Jeff Kruse
R-Roseburg, District 1

Phone: 503-986-1701  -  900 Court St. NE, S-315 Salem Oregon 97301
Email:   -   Website:

 Working Hard For You


MAY 8, 2015




First, the House passed Senate Bill 941, otherwise known as the gun background check bill, on mostly a party line vote and the Governor has said she will sign it.  For the record, I voted against the bill when it was in the Senate.  The House Republicans offered two minority reports which would actually have done something positive in the manner of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, but this issue is all about politics and political payback.  If you will remember, the anti-gun people from New York put over $600,000 into various House and Senate races in Oregon to get this result.  The new provisions in law are really not enforceable and many of the sheriffs from around the state have already said they will not enforce it.  Single party rule does have consequences, and this clearly is one.  I thought I would end the discussion on this issue with a quote from Benjamin Franklin.  “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what is for dinner.  Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”  As we continue to look at the erosion of our freedoms this quote is a relevant observation.


Over the last couple of months we have had a workgroup focused on the administrative structure of the education system and the failures of that system.  Historically K-12, community colleges and higher education have operated in their own universes, which hasn’t actually been helpful in trying to create a true K-20 system.  A few years ago the Legislature made the Governor the superintendent of public instruction and allowed him to create a governing board called The Oregon Education Investment Board.  The Governor then created several other boards, which at the end of the day has just added to the bureaucracy.  The provision in law creating OEIB was up for renewal this year, and we are going to make it go away.  Our plan is to put an interim structure in place with the hope of being able to bring to the legislature a different, more comprehensive model in the 2016 Session.  To that end we are establishing a work group that will meet over the summer to develop that plan.


It may be appropriate to give a little bit of the history of how the education system has gotten in the shape it currently is in.  First, from the Oregon specific perspective, the passage of Measure 5 in the 90’s had a major impact on education.  Before that time 75% of the funding was at the local level through property taxes.  We are now in a situation where 75% of the funding is coming from the state.  The reality is that school performance was better when there was local control and unfortunately control tends to come from where the money is.  The fault lies with both the legislature and the executive branch as we have both demanded accountability for the money we send to schools, which requires a lot of reporting and data collection that really has little to do with the actual education of kids.


This has been doubled down at the federal level.  In 1980 President Carter created the Department of Education as a separate agency at the federal level.  We get federal funding into our schools from primarily two federal agencies.  Most of the funding for meals comes from the Department of Agriculture, and more of the program funding comes from the Department of Education.  Both have a lot of reporting requirements and accountability measures.  These requirements became a lot more significant, expensive and time consuming when President Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law.  The federal government has continued to be more dictatorial during the Obama administration to the point where we are now dealing with things like Common Core Standards and Smarter Balance testing.  So we now have a situation where it can take as many as 19 schools days to prepare for and take the federal tests.  This is time that should be spent teaching kids subject matter, not trying to match some arbitrary federal standard.  On top of that we believe it actually costs school more to meet all of the federal requirements than the feds give us to implement the programs.


Our goal is to get back to a system where teachers had the freedom to actually teach.   Maybe even back to where the grades given in the classes were the appropriate level of accountability in the system.  We used to have the best education system in the world.  It could very well be the only way to get back there is to end the federal intrusion and limit the state intrusion as well.  It worked before; there is no reason to assume it wouldn’t work now.




Senator Jeff Kruse







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