Oregon Targets Education Reform, Industrial Growth

OREGON launched its "third wave" two years ago with former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's "Oregon Shines" strategic planning program, tying together business, labor, education, and government leaders. From this came the Oregon Progress Board, which set 160 benchmarks to gauge human, environmental, and economic well-being over the next 20 years. The stated purpose is to "use standard business practices to achieve specific goals, hold agencies accountable for their work, and increase efficiency in public service."

Three measures now being considered by the state legislature focus on immediate means to meet these goals. One would establish a corporation to coordinate state and private efforts to stimulate the state's secondary wood products industry. A second measure would reform state work-force and job-training programs.

The most radical proposal would bring major changes to public education in the state. It would expand the school year to 220 days by 2000, make Head Start available to all eligible children, implement an ungraded K-3 primary school, and give parents some choice in choosing among public schools.

It would also require all students to attain a "Certificate of Mastery" in basic skills by age 16 or the 10th grade. "The standard is to be benchmarked to the highest in the world," states the bill. High school students also would work toward a "college preparatory certificate" or one of a group of "technical and professional certificates" at graduation.

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