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Kitzhaber Signs Bills To Boost Education

Gov. John Kitzhaber ceremonially signed four bills Tuesday aimed at improving the state’s public education system so all Oregonians will earn a high school diploma by 2025.

It’s part of the state’s goal, called “40-40-20,” that also will ensure that by 2025 40 percent of Oregonians will have a post-secondary certificate and 40 percent will hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“The belief is that every child in this state has the capacity to learn regardless of geography, race, income or home language,” Kitzhaber told a group of educators, lawmakers and civic leaders gathered at the Broadway Commons in Salem.

The four bills represent $75 million in strategic investments that will help the state achieve its education goals, he said.

These bills are:

House Bill 3231: Creates a youth development division in the Oregon Department of Education. The division would ensure that services provided to youth until they turn 20 years old supports educational success, reduces high-risk behaviors, focuses on crime prevention and is integrated, measurable and accountable.

House Bill 3232: Provides funding for programs that would improve the reading skills of children by the time they complete the third grade, increase the number of students who earn a high school diploma and services for high-risk students, improve students’ proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math, among other goals. Funding in the current biennium is $26.8 million.

House Bill 3233: Establishes a network, which includes the Oregon Education Investment Board and ODE, to improve teacher training and quality. The bill also continues grant funding for school districts to help achieve this goal.

House Bill 3234: Creates an early learning division in ODE that would administer the state’s prekindergarten program among other tasks. The division is under the Early Learning Council.

Kitzhaber said that the investments ultimately will provide more resources for teachers, parents and students during the school year.

Rep. Betty Komp, D-Woodburn, compared efforts to revamp the state’s public education system to a football game.

“We are going to have every high school student getting that diploma; that will be our Rose Bowl,” Komp said.

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