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Oregon’s Measure 98 Primed to Pump Hundreds of Millions Into Skilled Trades Training for Young People


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This November, Oregon will be voting on whether or not to approve a ballot measure that would put career and technical education (CTE) in all high schools. The goal of the measure is to engage potentially underachieving students and demonstrate the range of career options available to them after high school. Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country and many workers lack the basic skills necessary to meet the demands of the current job market. Enter Measure 98:

Measure 98 proposes allocating $280 to $290 million…to the three programs of CTE, college credit and dropout prevention. That equates out to about $800 per high school student per year. Locally, that means $900,000 for the Klamath Falls City Schools and $1.6 to $1.7 million to the Klamath County School District.

[…] While Measure 98 includes funding for college level classes in high school, it also emphasizes the CTE classes for students wanting to pursue a trade after high school, or dropout prevention to help those students who need it get their diplomas.

Some have expressed concern over the source of funding, but proponents of Measure 98 (formerly Initiative Petition 65) point out that it won’t come from new taxes or other programs’ budgets:

The measure would be funded by surplus general fund surplus dollars that have not been earmarked for another use. Supporters of the measure want to make sure new revenue is allocated to high schools. The measure would not take money away from already existing allocations, nor is it a new tax.

In an opinion piece for the Beaverton Valley Times, North Marion High School teacher J.R. Rogers discusses the importance of vocational training and the development of technical skills:

CTE is about teaching basic career skills. It’s also about making students aware of many good-paying careers, regardless of whether they go to a four-year college. Welders make good wages, as do engineers, ship captains, medical professionals and a whole range of occupations that our students could be building skills toward during high school.

In an op-ed for DJC Oregon, Bridget Quinn, the workforce development coordinator for the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center, explains the value of hands-on education:

Hands-on education – whether in metals shop, wood shop, robotics, health care or engineering – is highly correlated with high school graduation. Studies show that even two courses of CTE raise the graduation rate by 15 percent.

She provides detail on how the funding would be dispersed:

Ballot Measure 98 would make one of every six new dollars in the state budget available to high schools to address job preparedness, college prep and graduation. Districts and schools would design programs that address the needs of local students and local communities.

Awareness is crucial, Quinn explains, for young people to understand the scope of opportunities before them:

For example, we show them how to wire up a circuit. And when they see that they’ve made a light bulb turn on – they light up too. Their faces show a new level of interest and involvement.

And when I tell them about all the important work that electricians do – everything from building data storage centers for Facebook to wiring hospital operating rooms and working on the green, electric-powered cars of the future – their eyes open to possibilities they had never considered.


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