Oregon has a congressman worried

f t # e
Washington, March 14, 2015 | comments

Kurt Schrader worries about Oregon: "We're in tough shape here."

Our education system ranks near the bottom nationally. Our main port, the Port of Portland, has been embroiled in a work-slowing labor dispute, which is an economic disaster for a state whose vitality depends on trade. Rural areas are not enjoying the metropolitan areas' post-recession resurgence.

And then there's this scandal that has forced the once-venerable Gov. John Kitzhaber out of office.

Schrader didn't want to talk about the governor — neither the old one nor the transition to the new one — when he met with the Statesman Journal Editorial Board this past week. But the 5th District congressman, a Democrat from Canby, had much to say on other topics:

•"Our state is extremely unfriendly to business, and we're getting worse," he said. "The book on Oregon is still the same: Oregon is a great place to start a business. It's not a great place to keep a business going."

•Congress has been more productive this year than people realize.

But Congress, like the rest of government, has failed dramatically at providing the certainty that businesses, nonprofits, states and local governments need in order to effectively plan.

•The minimum wage was never designed to provide a minimum income for a family. By making such mistakes as conflating the minimum wage with a desired minimum income, Democrats have perpetuated a discussion about class warfare.

"That's why we got our butts handed to us at the last election," Schrader said.

•There is at least one positive outcome from the previous Congress' failure to pass legislation to improve management of the O&C lands in Western Oregon. Other members of Congress have a better understanding of the O&C controversy and other forestry issues.

•In setting higher standards for student achievement, everyone seems to wants change — as long as it affects someone else, not them.

People misunderstand Common Core. The federal government mandates neither Common Core nor any certain curriculum. States can have their own standards as long as they are equal to or higher than the Common Core standards. States, and often local school districts, choose their own curriculum.

•Americans must accept some risks as the price for living in an open society. If we want to be totally secure, we no longer will be free. However, the Islamic State's threat to the U.S. is overstated.

The U.S. should bring its troops home from the Middle East and let such countries as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates take the fight to the Islamic State.

"This is a Middle Eastern issue, not an American issue," Schrader said, adding that the U.S. money could be better spent on domestic concerns such as education.

•"Our state's education system worries me," Schrader said. "We have to do something very different."

To that last comment, I offered a potential solution: Turn Oregon school reform over to the Chalkboard Project.

School districts, including Salem-Keizer, that embrace Chalkboard's CLASS Project substantially outperform Oregon districts that do not participate in CLASS. The teachers are happier, too.

View This Article

f t # e