Don’t Make Oregon’s Failing Public Schools Even Worse

Even with Oregon’s public school students already suffering from abysmal scores on national reading and mathematics tests and one in five students failing to graduate from high school in four years, state politicians can’t seem to stop inserting themselves into school curriculum decisions.

State Senators James I. Manning Jr. and Deb Patterson​ want to add another labor-intensive, complicated and questionable instructional mandate on students and teachers.

SB 284, submitted by the two senators at the request of Oregon Educators for Climate Education, “a statewide group of educators working toward Oregon legislation that would integrate and infuse PK-12 climate change education across all core subject areas”, would:

  • Require each school district board to develop a written plan establishing a climate change instructional program for kindergarten through grade 12 no later than June 1, 2026. 
  • Require school districts to submit their plan to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) for initial approval and then again every seven years.
  • Require ODE to develop and adopt a model plan in consultation with other state agencies and stakeholders, to develop academic content standards, and to approve and make available list of resources and materials that meet academic content standards.
  • Require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withhold distributions from Student Investment Account from school districts that fail to develop and implement climate change instructional program.
  • Require that career and technical education funding from High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Fund be spent on programs that support climate-focused sustainability career pathways. 

Meanwhile, state Rep. David Gomberg, D-Lincoln City, introduced  House Bill 2905 that would add to existing requirements for Oregon’s schools to teach about BIPOC, LGBTQ, immigrant communities and others by requiring that schools “Ensure that the academic content standards for history, geography, economics and civics include sufficient instruction on the histories, contributions and perspectives of individuals who…are of Jewish descent.” The bill has already cleared the House awaits Senate action.

SB 284’s climate change mandate would come on top of a K–12 Native American curriculum for all Oregon public schools created after passage of SB 13, a Tribal History/Shared History initiative, in 2017. The initiative has developed more than 45 lesson plans for grades four, eight, and ten across multiple content areas. The Oregon Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education (ODE/OIE) launched the first phase of implementation in these grade levels During the 2020/21 academic year. 

It’s all fine and good to want Oregon’s K-12 public school students to be up to speed on topics of the day, but adding more costly and time-consuming mandates when even the basic curriculum isn’t being effectively delivered is a recipe for failure. 

And the legislature doesn’t have a particularly good track record with earlier curriculum changes it has imposed. 

Legislation requiring that all Oregon school districts teach about the Holocaust beginning with the 2020-2021 school year is a case in point.

Claire Sarnowski, a freshman at Lake Oswego’s Lakeridge High School, came up with the idea of mandating Holocaust instruction after hearing Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener tell his story. Sarnowski approached state Sen. Rob Wagner, who agreed to introduce a bill.

It all sounded so simple and straightforward at the outset, but the final legislation was a classic example of mission creep.

The legislation went far beyond mandating that students be taught about the Holocaust.  Employing the coercive power of government, teachers are now required to address a slew of social justice topics: the immorality of mass violence; respect for cultural diversity; the obligation to combat wrongdoing through resistance, including protest; and the value of restorative justice.

You can be sure that any mandated climate change curriculum would morph into similar broad terrain and impose even more demands on Oregon’s already overburdened teachers and students.

Hypocrisy at work: National Geographic sponsors global environmental damage by the well-heeled.

It’s not your parents’ National Geographic.

The nonprofit National Geographic Society markets itself as a leading environmental steward committed to protecting our planet. So why is it running extravagant global travel programs for the rich that have major negative environmental impacts? 

National Geographic Expeditions is currently offering five trips by private jet, two of them trips around the world.

The Wall Street Journal’s August 25, 2020 issue featured a full-page advertisement by the Journal and National Geographic Expeditions for “The Future of Everything: Exploring Global Innovation by Private Jet, August 21, 2021 – Sept. 13, 2021.”

The ad tempted big spenders to “gain illuminating perspectives on how advances in science and technology are shaping tomorrow’s global economy and culture.” In addition, “A top-notch team of experts and leading journalists will accompany the expedition,” including experts from National Geographic and the Wall Street Journal.

A deeper look, however, reveals that the trip will be more a luxurious sightseeing journey for the affluent than a deep, intellectual exploration of global innovation.  

For example, according to the trip’s website, at their first stop in Kyoto, Japan, the travelers will have opportunities to tour the alleys of Nishiki Market, the historic geisha district of Gion, the bamboo grove of Arashiyama, the zen garden at the Ryoanji temple or traditional wooden townhouses called machiya. They will even be able toenjoy a cooking class in one of the historic dwellings. 

During a two-day stop in Seoul, S. Korea, the travelers will visit the War Memorial of Korea and the National Museum of Korea, learn about Buddhist traditions at the centuries-old temple of Jingwansa and, as in Kyoto, attend a cooking class.

In Mongolia, they will settle into traditional ger tents and and gather to hear National Geographic Emerging Explorer Federico Fanti discuss new methodologies for curbing the illegal trade of fossils and natural resources in the Gobi. They’ll also explore red rock landscapes, see the Moltsog Els sand dunes and ride horseback across the steppe. They will even meet a nomadic family for tea. 

All this for a mere $94,995 per person double occupancy or $104,490 single occupancy.

The private jet – “A Boeing 757—specially configured with VIP-style seating for just 75 passengers—affords us unmatched flexibility and is ideally suited for these remarkable expeditions,” National Geographic Expeditions says on its website. The plane’s usual capacity is 180 to 233 people. No small, fully loaded, and fuel-efficient plane for this journey. (Coincidentally, Donald Trump’s plane, which he bought in 2011 from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is a Boeing 757.) 

National Geographic’s Boeing 757

Powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce RB211 turbofan engines, the National Geographic’s Boeing 757 will fly around the world for 24 days.

Route of The Future of Everything trip.

Richard Heede, the co-founder and director of the Climate Accountability Institute, has estimated that a Boeing 757 emits roughly 26 tons of CO2 per 1,000-mile trip. The website for The Future of Everything trip doesn’t specify the distance the plane will fly, but a reasonable estimate is 22,000 miles. That means the plane will produce an estimated 572 tons of CO2 emissions. Human-related emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are a primary driver of climate change and present one of the world’s most pressing challenges with a range of potential ecological, physical and health impacts.

Why is National Geographic behind this jaunt?

You just have to know that National Geographic is no longer just the publisher of the ubiquitous magazine with the distinctive yellow border that’s been published continuously since 1888.

In 2015, the National Geographic magazine abandoned its nonprofit status and became part of National Geographic Partners, a venture between its parent organization and 21st Century Fox. Under the $725 million deal, Fox became the owner of 73 percent of the new company.  The National Geographic Society, which continues with the mission to “inspire people to care about the planet,” became the owner of 27 percent of the new company.

National Geographic Partners combined the National Geographic TV channels with a list of media properties that included National Geographic magazine as well as travel programs, including National Geographic Expeditions.

To say the least, promoting responsible environmental behavior is probably not high on 21st Century Fox’s mission, nor is inspiring people to care about the planet.

Now you know what’s going on, and it’s not pretty.

Gov. Brown’s new solar power orders are a stealth tax.

Gov. Kate Brown must figure that if Barack Obama could govern by executive order, so can she.

So right before she was to head for Germany to attend the United Nations climate talks she imposed new taxes through Executive Orders 17-20 and 17-21 with absolutely no public debate.


Yeah, higher housing costs!

Brown doesn’t call her Executive Orders a tax. She calls them a direction to the state Department of Business and Consumer Services’ Building Code Division (BCD) to amend the state’s codes with respect to making new residential and commercial structures “solar ready”. She also mandated that all new parking structures for home and commercial buildings be wired for a charger for an electric vehicle by October 2022.

But all this will cost builders extra money, and they will pass those costs on to homebuyers and building users.

So, at a time when the state is struggling with a lack of affordable housing, Gov. Brown is unilaterally imposing additional costs on Oregonians to burnish her credentials with the environmental lobby. Would those now endorsing Brown’s move be as pleased if she had unilaterally eliminated some environmentally- friendly sections of the state’s building code?

There is always a cost associated with retrofitting a building to accommodate solar. With the proper solar ready preparations, these measures may cost less if done at the time of building construction. But the decision on whether to impose a requirement for solar ready structures should be made in a public process.

Building code amendments are typically accomplished by legislative action or the adoption of proposals from the public. Legislative action takes time and requires public hearings. If a member of the public proposes an amendment, the Division insists that proposals:

  1. Be shared with people and organizations that will be impacted.
  2. Be accompanied by substantiating evidence or information to support the change
  3. Include the cost impact the change would have on building construction.

Brown didn’t bother with any of these steps, including projecting costs. She probably doesn’t know what all this is going to cost….or care..

Oregonians should see Brown’s move for what it is, a new tax on homebuyers and a dangerous level of executive overreach.




Liberals love science, except on GMOs

Have some doubts about human-caused climate change. Get over it, liberals say. It’s an indisputable fact, a sure thing, unassailable. Science proves it and you gotta trust science.

Heck, it’s so clear-cut, even the Portland School Board has unanimously adopted a resolution that directs district officials to get rid of classroom materials that express “doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.”

The Board didn’t clarify whether that meant such faulty materials were to be burned, a la Fahrenheit 451 where Captain Beatty burned books because they produce “two sides to a question to worry him”.

But scads of liberals take a different tack when the issue is GMOs.


Ranting and raving that GMOs just aren’t safe, they demand labeling of products containing GMOs and insist there’s a need to protect the non-GMO food supply. In a 330-page publication dismissing the “myths” about the safety of GMOs, Earth Open Source, an organization that “is presenting the evidence regarding the social, environmental, and health impacts of GMO foods”, asserts “that those disagreeing with GMO proponents’ claims of safety include hundreds of eminent scientists.”


A display at a Costco store

But science says differently.

GMO crops are as safe to eat as their non-GMO counterparts and have no negative environmental impacts according to a comprehensive report released on May 17 by the National Academy of Sciences —a group founded by the U.S. Congress to provide expert scientifically-based advice on a variety of issues. The report is a 388-page, comprehensive look at every aspect of genetically engineered crops.

Key messages in the report, summarized by National Geographic, are:

  • GMO crops are safe to eat…there’s no evidence of harm.
  • The GMO crops in our food system have “…helped farmers protect yields from insects and weeds.”
  • The report found no adverse affects on biodiversity or danger from interbreeding between GMO crops and wild relatives.
  • The economic benefits to farmers have been well-documented.
  • Appropriate regulation is imperative, and that regulation should be based on the characteristics of the crop, rather than the technique used to develop it, whether GMO or non-GMO.
  • Ongoing public conversations about GE crops and related issues should be characterized by transparency and public participation.

The National Academy of Sciences report also notes that both genetic engineering and conventional breeding are important to crop improvement. Each method has strengths and weaknesses, and treating them “as competing approaches is a false dichotomy; more progress in crop improvement can be brought about by using both … than by using either alone.”

So, will the GMO alarmists finally see the light? Will they embrace science and back off? Doubtful. But at least now there’s a stronger argument to challenge their illusions.

Tweedledee. Tweedledum: The two parties spend with abandon.


Tweedledee. Tweedledum. This is what we get when the two parties work together, a massive spending spree.

A $1.1 trillion federal spending bill and a $650 billion tax package unveiled today show that neither party gives a damn about holding down spending. It’s not that all the items to be funded are wasteful or unneeded, but the package will push spending above previously agreed limits by $66 billion in 2016 and permanently extend a vast array of tax benefits that will add at least a half-trillion dollars to the federal deficit, once a matter of great concern.


  • Bowing to pressure on Republicans and Democrats from medical device manufacturers across the county, including in Oregon, anti-Obamacare zealots, and ticked-off unions with expensive healthcare plans, the legislation will postpone for two years (which probably means forever) a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices manufacturers, that was expected to raise $29 billion of net revenues over 10 years and a so-called “Cadillac Tax” tax on expensive employer-sponsored healthcare plans, that was projected to raise about $30 billion over 10 years to cover new spending under Obamacare. Then, to add insult to injury, the legislation makes the Cadillac tax refundable when it restarts. The lost taxes will blow a hole in planned funding to cover the cost of Obamacare.
  • The Defense Department will get $1111 billion for new military equipment, including F-35 Joint-Strike Fighters, Black Hawk helicopters, attack submarines and guided missile destroyers.
  • A 40-year-old oil export ban will be rescinded and, in trade, Democrats will get expensive extensions of wind and solar power tax incentives.
  • A research and development tax credit will be expanded and extended permanently.
  • The $1,000 Child Tax Credit will be extended permanently.
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit will be permanently extended.
  • A federal health program for first responders and construction workers who worked at the World Trade Center site after 9/11 and a separate victims compensation fund will be extended at a cost of $8 billion.
  • A National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund will be created to “support work that helps Americans understand and adapt to forces like sea level rise, severe storms, and ocean acidification” associated with climate change.
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit, an annual credit for tuition and other qualified expenses, will be permanently extended.
  • A $250 annual deduction on qualified expenses of teachers will be indexed for inflation and permanently extended.
  • Five tax credits tied to charitable donations by individuals and businesses will be permanently extended.
  • Funding for the IRS will be frozen, punishing the IRS for targeting conservative groups, but also further limiting its ability to go after tax scofflaws and, this, reducing tax receipts.
  • A $255 per month pre-tax benefit for parking and public transportation expenses will be permanently extended.

But aside from all the spending, Congress did accomplish a few good things.

There will be a pay freeze for Vice President Biden, for example.

Also, earlier this year the dour, stick-in-the-mud Capitol Police said sledding by gleeful children and adults on the snow of Capitol Hill would no longer be allowed. The package asks that the Capitol Police rescind that prohibition so the jollity can resume.