Measure 98 aims to expand career-tech courses

Unallocated tax dollars would pay for the expansion

Former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski at a rally in support of Initiative Petition 65, which would fund vocational and career tech education in Oregon high schools, June 23, 2016 (KOIN)
Former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski at a rally in support of Initiative Petition 65, which would fund vocational and career tech education in Oregon high schools, June 23, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After a petition with more than 125,000 signatures was submitted to the state, Measure 98 has secured its place on the November ballot for the state of Oregon.

If it passes, Measure 98 would direct unallocated tax dollars toward the expansion of career-technical education courses in an effort to raise Oregon’s high school graduation rates.

Right now, Oregon’s graduation rate sits around 74%, fourth worst in the country. The state predicts that things are not likely to improve under current conditions.

Because of the state’s booming population, the state will be collecting more than $1.5 billion in tax revenue beginning next year. That money has yet to be allocated.

“Measure 98 takes just a little bit of that money, because it’s all unallocated right now, and dedicates it toward fixing our terrible high school graduation rate,” said campaign manager David Rosenfeld.

If it passes, Measure 98 would take one sixth of that money, about $147 million, and expand career-tech courses, like wood and metal shop, culinary arts or robotics, across the state. Access to these courses has been significantly reduced over the past 20 years.

“There used to be over 1,200 classes that students could take in Oregon, now there’s only 600 for 180,000 students,” said Rosenfeld. “Every student should have the opportunity to learn 21st century technical skills, and they just don’t right now.”

According to the campaign, the graduation rate for students who complete two or more career tech courses jumps 15 percent.

Oregon will vote on the measure in the general election on November 8.

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