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Devlin-backed education mentor bill signed by Gov. Kulongoski

Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, and Gov. Ted Kulongoski kicked off the back-to-school season recently with a gubernatorial bill signing for Oregon's new Educator Mentoring Program.

Devlin, whose district includes Lake Oswego and West Linn, was a chief sponsor of the bill, which was supported by both the Chalkboard Project and Stand for Children. The bill received unanimous support in both chambers.

'I believe this program will help us retain and improve the quality of new educators,' said Devlin. 'This program gives teachers and school administrators the support they need and deserve.'

House Bill 2574 dedicates $5 million in the next biennium to begin the mentoring program. School districts will receive $5,000 for every new teacher and administrator, and the funds will provide experienced mentors for teachers and administrators during their first two years of work.

By teaming up new educators with veterans, the new teachers can learn from their mentors' experiences and gain useful skills that will help them to be effective teachers. The ultimate goal is to provide support that will lead to an increase in the retention rate of new educators. Devlin estimated that Oregon loses around 30 percent of its teachers within their first three years of teaching. This not only costs the students, but also costs Oregon taxpayers around $45 million each year.

'Our No. 1 priority this year has been strengthening our schools, and this new Educator Mentoring Program is yet another step forward in achieving that goal,' said Devlin.

School districts will retain flexibility in implementing the new mentoring program. Districts that already have established research based mentoring programs will be able to continue or expand their programs, while schools without mentoring programs will apply for grants through the Oregon Department of Education. The department is responsible for ensuring that all school districts will receive adequate support in implementing the mentoring programs, said Devlin.