Ira Kortum

Nobody wants new taxes. Nobody wants to help foot the bill for anything. Who is nobody? And how did this person get into the state of Oregon? And since when did Oregon become the “me” state? As people involved in either teaching, administrating or simply learning in the world of higher education, it would be nice to believe that at least we as a university understand the necessity of education. If you need a little help in buying into this thought, try to read some of the papers currently being written by our university’s freshmen. Not to say all the papers are bad, but you’d be surprised to find just how many there are that don’t even meet the standards for a sixth grade writing level.

Now these are bright people. Their inability to form a simple and complete sentence doesn’t denote their intelligence but rather reflects upon our education system.

So exactly how is the connection missed between the level of our society and the education of future generations? One would think that the better educated our children are today, the better and brighter our future will be tomorrow, right? Does anyone really believe in crippling our schools so badly that those who graduate from high school can only qualify for universities that are in our own state and nowhere else is a good thing? Or that it’s a good thing for a university student to be in the world of academia and not be able to write a complete sentence with a verb or a noun, let alone know what a verb or a noun is?

So, maybe we do need an increase in some of our taxes. Consider it an investment in our and our children’s futures. Cigarette tax? You bet. Let’s get a Twinkie tax in there, too. Property tax? Bring it on. How much can we not afford to pay for such a basic building block to the future as education?

Here we are, one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – countries in the world, with more resources at our fingertips than many other countries combined, and yet our youths graduate from school with a lower education than many other youths in developing countries. That can’t be true!

Upon graduating “high” school in Bulgaria, most students speak at least two languages other than their own, do thesis projects and complete math courses most college students here in the states need to obtain their degree. Speaking of degrees, these students get their university diplomas in TWO years. While here in the U.S., we need at minimum four. While you’re taking all this in, keep in mind that Bulgaria’s secession from Russia was more than a decade ago, making it a developing country.

Starting to get the picture? In comparison, our education system has gone from a little behind, to a lot behind, to down right embarrassing. It’s laughable that there are those who still say “no new taxes,” who debate that, against all numbers, it’s really just a tightening of the belt and a reallocation of funds that will turn our schools around. And people listen – and no new taxes – and schools and children go without.

Maybe it is not just the children of our state who need a better education. Maybe all of us would do a little better in our voting choices if our history classes had been more adequately funded. After all, will we ever learn?