Here in Hillsboro and across Oregon, class sizes are growing, teachers are losing their jobs and school days are being cut. This leaves our children without the educational opportunities that are so vital to their future and the future of our community.

But this is not a situation that has befallen us by chance; this is an issue of failed priorities by our current leaders. We must make adequate and stable funding for our schools a priority once again.

Twenty years ago when my wife and I moved to Hillsboro, we did so because of the world-class education that my daughter Amy could receive here. We did our due diligence and determined at that time that the Hillsboro School District not only offered the best educational opportunity in Oregon, but one of the best in the country. 

Amy started out at Peter Bosco Elementary School, until that school was closed, and then onto Patterson Elementary, Evergreen Middle School and Glencoe High School. Since her start, we have seen a slow disinvestment in our public education system that has left our schools without the resources necessary to teach our children.

We were saddened to see, just a few years ago, the district make national news as an example of school districts being decimated by funding issues. If Salem politicians continue to reduce the amount of money we give our schools, it makes sense that they will not be able to perform at the level we all need.

The funding problem in our education system is rooted in the lack of a stable revenue plan for the state and a change some years ago to centralized planning and funding at the state level. With a system that relies on the state’s general fund, our schools and our children are the first to feel the squeeze of an economic downturn. This is made worse by leaders in Salem who have the wrong priorities, like sending millions in tax breaks to out-of-state corporations and the wealthiest Oregonians.

But through these hardships, our schools continue find ways to make the best out of a bad situation. Programs like Hillsboro’s partnership with Intel forge partnerships with private business and help to link our students with the workforce. We must continue to expand these partnerships and encourage more businesses to adopt a school or initiate similar programs.  In addition to science and technology, we should expand programs in music, art, sports and more. 

The time is now to get Salem’s priorities back on track and make education our top focus. That’s why I support ideas like diverting the corporate kicker, which currently sends taxpayer money to large-out-of-state corporations, back into funds dedicated to education.

We also must continue to improve access to affordable healthcare, so our children can come to school ready to learn and their parents can be healthy enough to help our economy thrive.

With a renewed focus on education, our children can have a brighter future.

Joe Gallegos, a former Universtiy of Portland sociology professor, is the Democractic candidate for House District 30. He lives in Hillsboro.

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