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Kitzhaber launches new school year at TTSD

Photo Credit: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber reads Dr. Seuss' 'Oh, The Places You'll Go' to Tualatin Elementary School kindergarteners on the first day of school. This is the second time in three years that Kitzhaber has attended a Tigard-Tualatin school on the first day of classes.Tuesday marked the first day of school in Tigard-Tualatin, and Gov. John Kitzhaber was ready for class.

“Congratulations,” Kitzhaber read to a group of kindergartners on Tuesday morning. “Today is your day. You're off to great places. You're off and away.”

The governor, along with Chief Education Officer Nancy Golden and several staff members visited Tualatin Elementary School to kick off the first day of classes with a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” and update parents on his 40-40-20 plan — which calls for every student to graduate from high school by 2025.

“We have made huge progress,” Kitzhaber said. “We have a very clear goal and essentially developed a different budget — not just funding enrollment, but funding the success of students. We’ve increased the amount of money in our schools by 16 percent, almost $1 billion in K-12 education.”

What is 40-40-20?

The long-term initiative calls for all Oregonians to have the following by 2025.

• 20 percent of adults in the state to hold a high school diploma, or its equivalent.

• 40 percent of Oregon adults to hold a bachelor’s or advanced degree

• 40 percent to earn an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate

Kitzhaber has also launched a more aggressive reading program for elementary school students.

“We know that if they are reading at level by third grade, they are four times more likely to go on to graduate,” Kitzhaber said. "That’s a really big goal.”

Tigard-Tualatin has long made reading a priority, Kitzhaber said. At Tualatin Elementary, 80 percent of students met or exceeded state reading standards in 2013.

“This is a school that walks its talk,” he said. “There are many good school districts in the state, but (Tigard-Tualatin) is a school district that has been very intentionally focused on improving reading. Even when they didn’t have enough money, they moved the dial. The point is that good practices are out there, and we need to identify them and make sure that all schools have the opportunity to replicate them.”

This isn’t the first time Kitzhaber has rung in the new school year in Tigard-Tualatin. In 2012, Kitzhaber was at Metzger Elementary School to discuss his 40-40-20 plan. The governor has turned to Tigard-Tualatin a lot in the past few years to explore ways to improve the education system.

Former superintendent Rob Saxton was appointed deputy superintendent of public instruction in 2012, and in January, longtime principal and administrator Karen Twain left the district to implement the state's new reading program and free full-day kindergarten across Oregon by 2015.




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