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Urgent Action Request to Stop the Sequester

Although the Oregon PTA sent out this urgent action request to it’s members this week, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for concerned citizens and parents who may or may not be members to make their voices heard on this issue as well. If you would like lawmakers to find a way to keep sequestration from taking even more away from our schools, please consider acting NOW:


  • As many of you know, without Congressional intervention this week, Sequestration is set to take effect on March 1 (Friday). Sequestration is the across-the-board federal budget cut totaling $1.2 trillion which will go into effect on Friday, March 1st.  
  • The estimates around the potential final impact have been fluctuating, but the updated impact data are based on an approximated 5% cut to federal education funding. Please note that the below state-by-state specific links are provided by the White House – which means they are written by the White House and the tone can be slightly political.Oregon PTA urges all of our members to take just five minutes and contact their federal representatives and senators and ask them to ensure sequestration does not happen.  Below is a sample letter/talking points for advocates to use when contacting their legislators, as well as detailed impact data for Oregon, a link to find legislator contact information, and a link to National PTA sequestration toolkit, which contains a handy FAQ, giving you more information about 
  • sequestration.
  • Hello, I am ________, president/member/etc. of _________ PTA.
  • As a parent and constituent voter, I am calling/emailing to urge Senator/Representative _______ work across the aisle to identify a balanced, responsible deficit reduction plan in
  • place of sequestration that does not further reduce investment in education and long term economic health.
  • Non-defense discretionary programs have already contributed $1.5 trillion to deficit reduction – a disproportionate share. Since 2002, per-capita inflation adjusted spending on education alone has been reduced by 14.2%, excluding Pell Grants.
  • Without Congressional action, Sequestration will result in approximately $2.4 billion in cuts to education programs – leaving students, schools, and families short-changed starting in the 2013-2014 school year. For (STATE), this will mean (fill-in using state-specific numbers below).
  • Thank you for taking time to speak with a concerned parent and advocate about investment in education – a necessary component of long-term national prosperity.
  • PTA is counting on Senator/Representative ________ to act on behalf of students and families.

We ask that members contact their Senator/Representatives by Thursday, February 28th, 2013 by 1:00pm PST. If you are calling, please contact the Washington DC office, and ask to speak to the staffer who handles budget and/or education.

Thank you for your continued work on behalf of Oregon and its students!  Please contact Nina Carlson at 503 312-0683 or  with questions about this Action Alert, and if emailing, please include in the cc line.

For details about what sequestration means to Oregon students visit: find your legislator visit:

For more information about sequestration visit:





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Understanding Oregon K-12 School Finance


Came across this nice PowerPoint presentation from Michael Elliott,    State School Fund Coordinator, Oregon Department of Education.

If you would like a better understanding of how and why we are where we are at with Education Funding here in Oregon, this just may help.

And with President’s Day, please remember, comes another important way to advocate for better school funding. Write an e-mail to your state legislators … it is a quick and easy but important process … see details in this previous post:

email image

Funding educationAlso a recent Letter to the Editor in the Oregonian that gets to the point:Ed funding image

Oregon chief education officer Rudy Crew wants to “fix” our schools by changing their “educational architecture” and buying a lot of new technology (“Call for new ‘educational architecture’ in Oregon,” Feb. 11).

Our present model doesn’t serve students well, he says, completely ignoring the effects of years of inadequate funding on the schools we have. Remember the state’s Quality Education Model? In every biennium, the gap between what the QEM has established as resources needed and actual funding has grown. That gap was $1.64 billion in 2007-9 and is projected to be $2.44 billion in 2013-15. This reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s words: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

In Oregon, stable, adequate and equitable funding has been found difficult and not tried. Instead, our leaders continue to take resources out of classrooms, spending scarce education dollars on bureaucracy, consultants, testing and expensive technology. Let’s focus on the basics: students and teachers working together in schools that are supported with the wherewithal for learning.

Until we try appropriately funded schools, we won’t know how effective they can be.

Southwest Portland
Swanson is an education instructor at Portland State University and has 31 years of elementary teaching experience in Oregon.

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Oregon PTA Virtual Lobbying Day – President’s Day: February 18, 2013

They are asking you to send a simple email to your legislators – every Oregonian has a state senator and state representative who was elected to act on your behalf.

What should your email include?OPTAlogo

  • Introduce yourself. 
  • Briefly state why you are writing.The Oregon PTA wants your legislators to know that you are keeping track of what they are doing in Salem and that you care about every child in the state of Oregon, andsubsequently that Oregon PTA is watching as well.
  • Tell a personal story about how the cuts in education funding have affected you especially with increased class sizes and lost programs.
  • Thank the legislator for their concern and service. 
  • Offer to be available to the legislator if they should have questions or need further information. 
  • Provide your preferred contact information and respectfully sign off.
  • Please include in the CC so we can keep track of people responding. We want to help build the connection with our legislators.

Where to send the message:

If you want to find your legislator, here is a link you can follow where you just put in your address and it will list all of your representatives, nationally and in Oregon. , or go to the list below.

If that is too much of a hassle here are the legislators associated with each school address.  You can use the school which is nearest to your home and you will most likely be okay.



Senator:  Diane Rosenbaum

Representative:  Jules Kopel Bailey


Example Email:

“My name is Scott Overton and I am an advocate for children and education.  I am a member of the PTA at Grant HS and the father of two boys, Joe and Adam. I am interested in Oregon reinvesting in education and making sure that all children have access to a bright future.  So I am asking you to make sure that the percentage of the state budget dedicated to education does not further decline and even increases with the result of a no cut budget for schools throughout Oregon.  My children, Joe and Adam, are very different in how they learn.  Joe can independently learn most material and does quite well in every class situation.  But Adam is not so lucky.  He requires extra time to understand his work and in second year Algebra he has 35 other students in his class which means the teacher cannot spend much time with him.  Luckily the teacher has made herself available after hours to help students and Adam is taking advantage of this but I fear there are many in his class that are not able to come during lunch or after school because of responsibilities outside of school and they are not getting the time they need from the teacher to understand the concepts. The teacher should have fewer students so that she can attend to every student during the class period.  Thank you, Representative Dembrow, for listening to my concern and for your service to our community.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need further information.  I am available to help make education work in Oregon.

Sincerely, Scott Overton


Just one more way to get involved in School Funding and Advocacy in Oregon! Let me know if you have questions and keep an eye out in the SES Messenger for a new section all about this blog and Public Education Advocacy opportunities each week.





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Oregon Legislature begins work

The Oregon Legislature is back in session, starting today, Monday, February 4, 2013. In case you haven’t yet heard,



…Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, put out a recommended budget that included two mandates for the legislature:
…Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem… and House of Representatives Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte… McLane both said the economy would be a top priority, as well as education funding… Make changes to Oregon’s criminal justice system and Public Employees Retirement System. He tied the savings to education funding in his proposed budget and told legislators to cut $1 billion from the state budget if they don’t pass the reform packages…

For the full Salem Statement-Journal story from today’s edition, go online to:|newswell|text|Home|p.

And from today’s Oregonian:


As usual, most of the attention will be on money. Kitzhaber has proposed $6.15 billion for K-12 schools in 2013-15, an 8 percent increase from the current two-year budget. School advocates want more. Kitzhaber says he can deliver what he has proposed only if the Legislature approves controversial changes to the Public Employee Retirement System. He and his chief education officer, Rudy Crew, also will ask lawmakers to earmark $10 million to $120 million for four key initiatives — early childhood reading; science, math and engineering; advising to nudge students toward college; and recruiting, training and mentoring of teachers.

In the higher ed arena, Kitzhaber wants the Legislature to recast the power structure to create a new postsecondary board over universities, community colleges and state financial aid. University champions also want to permit some universities to create their own boards, independent of systemwide control.

Watch list: Kitzhaber and his handpicked education lieutenants, Crew and schools chief Rob Saxton, will make the case for their spending and governance changes. The Oregon Education Association, which was unhappy with the education package the governor helped push through last session, should never be counted out.

Politics: School boards, superintendents and the teachers union all are expected to oppose parts of Kitzhaber’s plans, instead advocating higher spending on schools and less earmarking of how that money can be spent. Democrats are looking at alternative ways to pump more money into schools.

– Betsy Hammond

You may want to keep an eye on The Oregonian’s Oregon Education section in Politics:

I will be posting most likely more frequently in the days and weeks to come with action items for those who may want to get involved in trying to increase funding for Oregon Schools. A few groups to watch or to check out for more information on the history of education funding in Oregon include:

Oregon Education Association

Oregon Save our Schools

Our Portland, Our Schools

Invest in Oregon’s Kids

Chalkboard Project

Please feel free to email me at if you have questions, see groups or events you would like me to post about and/or have suggestions or ideas for me.

Best always,

Sue Lyon-Myrick

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The Future of Public Education in Oregon

Things are still pretty quiet on the Education Funding front here in Oregon but should warm up when the legislature starts their session. In the meantime, if you are interested in this topic, you may want to join State Representative Jules Bailey, and co-hosts Senator Diane Rosebaum and Carolyn Tomei for:



The Future of Public Education in Oregon

This Education Panel and Community Town Hall will include Special Guests: 

Dr. Rudy Crew, Oregon’s Chief Education Officer, 

Gwen Sullivan, Portland Teacher and President of the Portland Association of Teachers, 


Lisa Frack, public school parent and education advocate. 

When: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:00-8:00 PM

                *Submit questions beginning at 5:30 PM

Where: Vollum Lecture Hall at Reed College

                   3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.

Parking:  The best place to park is the east parking lot (just east of 36th Avenue on Woodstock Blvd.). The Vollum Lecture Hall is centrally located and can be found as #37 on the campus map here:  Reed Campus Map.


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National Education Association asks you to act now!

With less than a month before middle class tax cuts expire, Congress has yet to act, as House Republicans hold the extension hostage while fighting for tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent.  This week, Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced a “discharge petition” that would force House leaders to bring a middle class tax cut bill to the House floor for an up or down vote.  The petition, which needs 218 signatures, has been signed by most Democrats, but needs Republican signatures to reach the total needed and move forward.  See if your Representative has signed the petition.If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, a typical middle-class family of four will see its taxes rise by $2,200 starting in 2013.  Extending middle class tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year would protect 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small businesses.In addition to extending tax cuts for the middle class, Congress must also act quickly to stop the impending across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 2.  If these cuts go into effect, more than nine million students will lose critical education services, and nearly 80,000 education jobs could be lost.   Learn more.Take Action Today:

  • E-mail Congress and tell them to act immediately to extend tax cuts for the middle class.  If your Representative has not signed the discharge petition, urge him or her to do so immediately.
  • Keep calling Congress.  Our national Kids Not Cuts call Congress day was such a huge success that we’ve decided to extend our hotline through December 13th. If you missed out on December 5, you can call 1-866-293-7278 through next Thursday to tell your elected officials to stand up for Kids Not Cuts!
  • Take the “Kids Not Cuts” pledge today— to speak up for America’s kids and working families, and to make sure Congress makes the right choices.  Already took the pledge?  Share it with at least five friends and ask them to join the fight to stand up for America’s kids and working families.

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The Election is almost here – ways to support the bond.

Hey folks. Thanks to everyone who has supported the bond with lawn signs and

making calls. We are having one more Sunnyside Phone Bank night for the bond on Monday, October 29th at   Bond Headquarters 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. from 5 – 8 pm. If you can make it, please let    Sue Lyon-Myrick  ( know to expect you and feel free to bring a friend!

Earlier that day you can join Our Portland, Our Schools at some of the busiest corners in town where they will be  smiling and proudly waving “Vote Yes on the School Bond” signs for morning commuters to see!  Pick one of 8 highly visible locations, and   let them know that they will see you there!


You can sign up today to be a Bond Visibility Captain! Select one of the locations and have 2-3 friends join you for one of two shifts.

1. Monday October 29 – November 1, 7:30a.m.-9:00a.m.
2. Friday November 2 – November 6th, 7:30a.m.-9:00a.m.Show up at the site you select with your hand made 2012 School Bond Banner (or pick one up at the office)
1. 39th and Sandy Blvd
2. Burnside and W. 23rd Ave
3. East end of Broadway bridge
4. East end of the Hawthorne bridge
5. West end of the Hawthorne bridge
6. East end of the Morrison bridge
7. 39th and SE Powell
8. MLK/Grand at Broadway/Weidler

Find more information at their Facebook page for this event at:

Support Public Education

Calling all canvassers – great weather for a walk & a little “bond” talk

Hey folks. If you are interested in supporting the Bond and getting out in this gorgeous fall weather, have we got a deal for you!

With the amazing forecast for the next week or so, the bond campaign is focusing efforts on canvassing. This weekend,and all weekends, they are canvassing from 10 – 1 on Saturday and from 3 – 6 on Sunday.

Their location this weekend where they are meeting up to disperse into the neighborhood is Hamilton City Park in the SW next to Bridelmeyer School.

So if this is for you, get your walking shoes on!


If you are feeling the need to advocate for Public Education but maybe from the comfort of your own home for now or at least not through canvassing door-to-door, the National Education Association is asking for your help to save education jobs:

Congress has left Washington, DC and won’t return until mid-November, when these critical issues will take center stage. Now is the time to make our voices heard. We need to tell Congress that education and other critical programs cannot continue to bear the brunt of deficit reduction. The choice is stark: Congress can protect students and their education, or it can continue to coddle the wealthiest two percent and corporations that ship jobs overseas.Don’t let them make the wrong choice!

Take Action Today:

• Tell Congress to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction and reject more cuts to education.
• See new state by state data on what the pending cuts would mean for students and educators where you live.
• Visit your Members of Congress when they are back home campaigning. Tell them to stop the cuts to education and to make sure the top two percent pay their fair share.

Support Public Education

Call me Bond … volunteer! ;-)

As you may know, activities in support of the Portland School District Bond are well underway. The Sunnyside PTSA has voted to support the bond and as such has committed to recruit volunteers to help with several phone banks between now and election day.

Like to talk on the phone? Not into canvassing door-to-door? We need YOU! 

Phone bank volunteering is a great way to make a difference!

The bond is providing the space, the phone script, and the targeted list of folks to call. They will train you…and it’s very simple training. The type of phone banking we will be doing is easy, as it is to a list of Democrats, and you will  just talk with them briefly about the Bond to gauge their level of agreement.  If they are unsure, then we give them a few “bullet points”.  If they are totally supportive, we ask if we can place a yard sign at their property, and get their address.

The Sunnyside Phone Bank Night we currently need volunteers for (from 5-8 pm) is:

  • Wednesday, October 17

You can also sign up for another night to volunteer on your own. I ask that you just let me know so that I can keep track of how many volunteers from Sunnyside we have provided!

Stay tuned as there will likely be one more “official” SES night that I recruit callers for before election day! Thanks for all your help & support!

Support Public Education

Weekend Advocacy Volunteer Opportunities

It may be the weekend, but there’s still work to be done. If you are interested in supporting the PPS School Bond, you can join Our Portland, Our Schools for their first door-

knocking walk of this election season!  Should you choose to get involved, you will walk with other volunteers and let folks know about the school bond measure and why it matters for us, our kids, and our city.

There are 2 volunteer shifts this Saturday, September 15: 

  • 10 am – 1 pm or
  • 1 pm – 3 pm

Southeast Portlanders: your meet-up spot is SE 26th and Franklin. Carole Onasch will have everything you need!

Northeast Portlanders: scoot over to NE 36th and Thompson at 10am or 1pm and Richard Gilliam will be there to help!

North Portlanders: meet at Columbia Park, corner of N. Russet and Chautauqua at 10am or 1pm. Hit up Miguel Lopez for details.

Southwest Portlanders: head to Lincoln High Schools track at 10am or 1pm, and look to Ben Eckstein for more info.

Additionally, the National Education Association (NEA) says: WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY TO STOP EDUCATION CUTS!
Congress is likely only in session for one more week, but they will return after the election to debate these critical issues.  Now is the time to make our voices heard.  We need to tell Congress that education and other critical programs cannot continue to bear the brunt of deficit reduction.   We need to demand a balanced approach – one that protects the middle class and asks the top two percent of earners in this nation to pay their fair share.   The choice is stark: Congress can protect students and their education, or it can continue to coddle the wealthiest two percent and corporations that ship jobs overseas.

Take Action Today:

More soon!