5:19 p.m. PDT June 23, 2016
Supporters of Initiative Petition 65 turned in the last of the needed signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot on Thursday.
Initiative Petition 65 would create a funding source for all Oregon school districts to spend on career technical education, early college readiness education and dropout prevention.
Supporters gathered on the Capitol steps Thursday afternoon to discuss why they support the initiative before walking the last of the 125,000 petition signatures across the street to the Secretary of State’s office in the Public Service Building.
Even Pretty Lady, a 15-year-old Pomeranian mix dog, showed up wearing two signs that read “get your diploma” and “graduate to vet school.” The pooch has taken place in multiple gatherings to support IP65, being given the title, “director of canine operations.”
Supporters said the measure is needed because Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country, funding for career and technical education programs has declined during the past 15 years, and most Oregon students who go on to community college must take remedial classes.
“We all want better (schools) for our students,” said Toya Fick, executive director of Stand For Children Oregon and chief petitioner for IP65.
“Every Oregon high school should provide students with real-world skills and hands-on professional training that connects to local, good-paying jobs,” she said. “Students who want them should also have access to college-level classes.”
According to supporters, Initiative Petition 65 would do three things:
- Allow every school district in Oregon to provide vocational and career technical education to students.
- Make college-level classes available to high school students.
- Bring back counseling, classes and tutoring to boost the graduation rate.
The initiative wouldn’t raise taxes or take money away from existing programs, according to supporters. Instead, the money would come from new, unallocated revenue.
The initiative would commit an average of $800 per high school student in Oregon, about $282 million per biennium, about 1 percent of the next state budget.
Shelly Strom, a spokeswoman for IP65, said districts will not be required to take the money, but would have the option.
The latest numbers from the Secretary of State’s office show the campaign has raised more than $3.6 million.
Former governor Ted Kulongoski is a chief petitioner and endorsers include the Oregon School Boards Association, the Coalition of Communities of Color and the Latino Network.
The campaign has not faced any organized opposition.