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DON McINTIRE (RIP Oct. 12, 2012)

The Passing of Measure Five

One action to limit taxes by a tireless advocate for lower and fairer taxes proved to be a silver lining for the majority of students whose first language is not English; this means over 50% of the Mexican-American families in Oregon.  It is safe to assume that most families who fall into the category of “of linguistically different or who use English as their 2nd language” did not know who Don McIntire was and much less the role that Don McIntire had in insuring that school districts had funds to address the educational needs of ELL(English Language Learners) students.  In reality the issue of ELL students was a bit far from Don McIntire’s original agenda which was to essentially limit taxes and spending.  Nevertheless, one has to give credit where credit is due and that is the “McIntire” affect.  Many articles have been written by a variety of journalists, but not “ONE” shed light at Measure Five and its indirect impact on the education of students whose first language is not English. 

After the passage of Measure Five, as the legislature, political lobbyists and others were trying to accommodate the new law known as “Measure Five” a system of factorization became popular e.g., “How much more money does it take to educate an ELL student?” a question that was rarely discussed among school districts as the majority did not see ELL Education as a priority.  After much discussion the various political groups and missing in the dialogue was the voice of the ELL families,  the people around the table of deal-making decided to adopt the factor of .50 differential; meaning that each ELL student was now worth an additional 50% more dollars over the local allocated per pupil cost.  Once passage was made and rules of engagement were adopted little or no information was shared with the families who were supposed to expect more, better and different services from their school district.  In the ensuing years school districts that had a good tax base to support education such as Portland Public Schools experienced a decline in revenue under Measure Five while other school districts experienced a substantial gain particularly those that had a substantial enrollment of ELL students.  The ELL students now became a source of revenue; and districts officials rushed to the aid of these students under the new law; well, they were supposed to.  Their efforts were not all that visible, strategic, deliberate and/ or effective.  The 1998 Academic Data prepared by the Department of Education supported this premise (See chart).  Moreover and a bit of déjàvu, the reports on student academic performance came during Gov. K first term.

Most people assume that when a law is passed the law is immediately followed; it makes sense to the regular person in the street.  The fact of the matter is that a report compiled by the Department of Education in 1998 would indicate that the majority of the school districts were not complying with the basic requirements of the law.  This means that almost a whole generation of students entered and exited from the school districts without realizing ALL the benefits that the Measure Five Factor could have provided.  Simply put since approximately 85% of the funds in education are used for personnel few school districts build a personnel and programmatic infrastructure to complement the need of ELL students.  To understand this act of malfeasance and/or administrative fiscal liberty one has to take into account that the ELL student population grew faster and across the communities rural and urban during the same period of what in essence the State Department of Education calls “non-compliance.”  Moreover it is safe to assume that few if any of the families were aware that their children if ELL identified generated more funds to address their educational needs.

As a student of history and former educator I have been following the evolution of our educational system for the last 40 years.  There is no doubt that people mean well and wish to create a stronger system of education and/or make our public infrastructure better as we all benefit. Don McIntire in his own way wanted to improve our system.  Thus, I must cordially and respectfully T H A N K Don McIntire for providing leadership in an area that forced the discussion of English As a Second and Bilingual Education in the state of Oregon.  Without his leadership in an unrelated area such as limiting taxes and spending, Oregon would not be known nationally as having one of the most generous ELL/Bilingual Education Revenue allocations.  Maybe Don McIntire was an “amigo” after all; at least in some circles!......GRACIAS  FOR THE McIntire-Factor!
NOTE:  On the day of Mr. McIntire’s death our website was launched.  This entry is added to serve as a historical mark for those who visit our website as this article is included under the “EDUCATION” section.  It provides the reader with a perspective on how things change or don’t change. The essence of my article is :  How one move impacted another subject; a subject that generated little interest before, that is, “Educating migrant and immigrant Students.”

Student of History
Miguel A. Salinas

Sources:  Oregonian, Statesman Journal, Portland Tribune, Legislature Briefs, State Dept. of Ed. ELL Report-1998 and my repeated attempts at raising awareness at the Legislative Level, Department of Education and Advocacy for the last 30+ years.  
For a photo review of Don McIntire’s career please visit the following link.  I will soon be visiting one of his children so I can get a personal photo to add to this article.  Soymiguel  11/15/2012.