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Oregon Education: Where Kate Brown and Knute Buehler Stand

Kate Brown is proud of her record on education during the 3½ years she’s served as Oregon’s governor. Spending is up 22 percent, 1,300 more low-income children have access to free preschool each year, and the graduation rate rose 3 percentage points in two years, a faster rate than in prior years. 

But her Republican challenger, Knute Buehler, sees a legacy of failure. Test scores and college-going rates are mediocre and haven’t improved. Most troubling, he said, the state’s graduation rate remains the third-worst in the nation.

There’s not much daylight between the two candidates on some key promises to improve public education. Both say they would fully fund the career-technical and anti-dropout programs called for with the passage of Measure 98 in 2016. Both say Oregon must lengthen its school year, which is currently two weeks shorter than the national standard of 180 days. Both call for recruiting more teachers of color to better match the diversity of Oregon students. Both say they would pump more money into schools.

But there also are fundamental differences. Buehler says he would use the power of the office and sway of state funding to hold schools accountable and insist on results. Brown says she would not tie funding to mandates or outcomes.