A recent study from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan research institute, found that most U.S. states provide less support today per student for K-12 education than before the Great Recession of 2008. Oregon is one of these states that, unfortunately, has left education on the chopping block.
Local education funding took a critical turn back in 1990 with Oregon’s landmark Measure 5. Property taxes dedicated to local schools were capped and gradually lowered with this piece of legislation. Funding was no longer controlled by local districts. Similar changes in tax structure have been implemented in many other states.
It should be no surprise that concerned communities across the country have been taking matters in their own hands. Non-profit programs and foundations that support local schools have tripled since 1995. Today, 85% of the 13,500 school districts across the U.S. have them. The evidence is clear that local districts are increasingly dependent on philanthropic giving to mitigate state funding gaps.
Lake Oswego was ahead of the curve. The Lake Oswego Schools Foundation was originally organized in 1986 and continues to expand to this day. Since 1994, the Foundation has raised more than $22 million to fund highly qualified teachers, reduce class sizes and enrich our programs. In some years, our efforts have provided funding for as many as 33 teachers.
There can be no doubt that generous donations to the Foundation have translated into excellence in the classroom. In science, math and English, Lake Oswego test scores reveal at least 90% of all 8th graders meet or exceed expectations. Our SAT and ACT scores tower above state and national averages. In August, MSMBC published a StartClass report based on U.S. Dept. of Education data that ranked Lake Oswego the #1 school district in the country!
Across the U.S., school foundations are helping communities raise the bar in public education. In Lake Oswego, we have taken on this challenge like few other communities. Each year, our efforts continue to unify local parents, grandparents, neighbors, alumni, local businesses and officials. We are all committed to doing our part to build a brighter future for the kids of Lake Oswego.