Congresswoman talks goals for education, fields concerns about funding, testing

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (left), democratic congresswoman for Columbia County and Oregon's 1st Congressional District, listens to Scappoose School District Superintendent Stephen Jupe discuss the district's approach to recent issues over Native American mascots. Scappoose High School Athletic Director Robert Medley (background) said he would like to keep the Indians mascot for the school.U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Democratic congresswoman for Columbia County and Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, toured the Scappoose School District administrative office and Scappoose High School Wednesday, March 19, to discuss education policy with staff and administrators.

The visit was part of a one-day tour wherein Bonamici visited five schools in Columbia and Washington counties. Before appearing in Scappoose, the congresswoman visited Clatskanie Elementary School, the Rainier School District and St. Helens Middle School.

A majority of the concerns voiced to Bonamici by Scappoose School District administrators revolved around education funding and standardized testing.

Bonamici, a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, told told staff and administration one of her priorities is to increase the flow of funding for education, noting her concern over recent budget cuts. Asked how the education committee will approach the priority, Bonamici said the board is currently focused on funding at the college level.

“Now, we’re doing things mostly with higher education,” she said, highlighting a bill she sponsored known as the Pay it Forward College Affordability Act, which aims to waive tuition and book costs for college students. Students would then repay those expenses over time based on a percentage of their income after graduation.

Bonamici also heard concerns from Superintendent Stephen Jupe over standardized testing.

“Historically, as a nation, we have done standardized testing to death,” Jupe said. “The key is testing for learning.”

Bonamici agreed, adding that standardized testing is an expensive tool for measuring students’ understanding of core subjects.

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