All blog posts related to the issue: Education
  • Ron: I refuse to just shrug my shoulders at injustice and say that’s the way it is.

    Drawing on Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to “never lose infinite hope,” Ron on Monday urged Oregonians to work together on defeating all obstacles to injustice.

    Living Dr. King’s dream means we constantly must work to overcome those obstacles that would have us accept injustice just because some people say ‘that’s the way it is,'” Ron said in remarks to The Skanner Foundation’s 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Portland.

    As your United States senator, I refuse to just shrug my shoulders at injustice and say that’s the way it is.” he said.

    He said King’s call to “accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope” strikes home as especially relevant at the start of 2016.

    Among the challenges that make those words especially relevant are“putting the brakes on runaway college costs” crushing the dreams of teenagers; lifting Oregon’s low high school graduation rates; fixing a health care system that produces cures Oregonians can’t afford; and reducing “gun violence that regularly rips through our schools and our neighborhoods.”

    “‘That’s the way it is’ is not good enough for Oregonians when so many of our neighbors struggle to get an education, keep their loved ones safe and healthy and just try to keep a roof over their heads,” he said. I am absolutely convinced Dr. King would never say ‘that’s the way it is’ is good enough.”

    Before making his remarks, Ron congratulated The Skanner publisher Bernie Foster and executive editor Bobbie Foster for the newspaper marking its 40th anniversary, and for its 30th year organizing the MLK Day breakfast in Portland.

    In addition to Monday’s King breakfast, Ron also held town halls this past weekend in Washington, Marion, Polk and Linn counties -- and visited the new Veterans Affairs health clinic in Eugene.


  • Ron Celebrates 750th town hall in Fossil

    Ron started off the new year with a statewide town hall schedule that included his landmark 750th town hall in Wheeler County, site of his first town meeting as a U.S. senator in 1996.

    Returning to Wheeler High School in Fossil on Jan. 5, Wyden recounted his pledge to hold a town hall each year in each of Oregon’s 36 counties to make sure he heard firsthand from Oregonians from every part of the state.

    “I said I would come to every county in Oregon every year if I got elected,” Ron said.

    The home economics students at Wheeler High School marked the town hall by baking delicious cupcakes and putting them in the shape of a “750.” Fossil was also the location of Ron’s 500th and 600th town halls.

    A photo posted by Sen. Ron Wyden (@ronwyden) on

    Remembering his very first town hall, Ron said he contacted then-Wheeler County Judge Jeanne Burch, who also attended last week’s town hall.

    “Judge Burch said she would do everything to make it a great trip. Did she ever -- and not just that first trip but year in and year out. Fossil welcomed me with open arms and I am so proud of this great community.”

    In addition to the Wheeler County town hall. Ron also held town meetings last week throughout eastern Oregon, the Columbia Gorge, Multnomah and Clackamas County and the Oregon Coast.

    He fielded questions that covered his work to make college more affordable, to solicit ideas from high school students that would build on his work to lift graduation rates (click here to submit yours) and to ensure that all of Oregon benefits from economic gains.

    “I am so proud to represent the entire state in the true Oregon tradition,” Wyden said, “by throwing open the doors of government so we can get beyond sound bites and have substantive discussions with Oregonians about their ideas to make our state and our country an even better place.”

    To see a list of Ron’s past and upcoming town halls, please go here.

    A photo posted by Sen. Ron Wyden (@ronwyden) on

  • Ron Talks College Affordability at Campus Roundtables

    Ron and Senator Jeff Merkley met with students last week at the University of Oregon and Southern Oregon University to discuss a multi-pronged approach to tackle the nationwide problem of mounting student debt and rising college costs.

    A lot of students in Oregon and around the country feel that they’re getting hit by a wrecking ball when it comes to paying for an education,” Ron said. We ought to be doing more to get past the ‘blame game’ and to focus on real solutions, both to contain the escalating cost and to prevent the crushing debt that comes about with increased tuition.”

    The Oregon senators heard poignant and painful accounts from students on both campuses worried that debt will hamstring their lives after college.

    “It would be nice if college were affordable because then I could plan ahead,” said Lane Community College student Jazzmen Vega-Heath after the Eugene roundtable at the University of Oregon.

    And the senators also heard troubling takes about students as young as 13 and 14 years old dropping out of rural Oregon schools in the belief that they would never stand a chance at going on to afford college.

    Ron already has introduced a bipartisan bill, the “The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act,” which would provide college-bound students powerful new tools for comparing colleges and specific programs of study on measures such as total cost, likelihood of graduating, and potential earnings.

    And he will soon introduce the PARTNERSHIPS Act, a bill that Senator Merkley is co-sponsoring that would establish a new incentive program rewarding states that increase their investments in public higher education in exchange for holding down tuition costs.

    “I’m constantly hearing the concerns of the students here,” said University of Oregon student Helena Schlegel, “who are struggling to pay the bills - -whether it’s their loans, their tuition, their food, their books or their rent.”

    The PARTNERSHIPS Act would also expand and make permanent critical tax incentives aimed at helping students and families afford college‎, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

    “Both the students and the universities that are willing to step up would win,” Ron said.

    “The students would win because as we heard, students are just getting clobbered by these costs,” he said. “The colleges have said the states haven’t invested enough in education. Now, those colleges would win because if they held down tuition, the federal government would make additional help available.”

    Senator Merkley recently introduced the Access to Fair Financial Options for Repaying Debt (AFFORD) Act, a bill Ron is co-sponsoring that would guarantee all students are able to affordably pay off their student loans by making an income-based repayment option available to all student borrowers.

    Students at both Southern Oregon University and the University of Oregon said after hearing the Oregon senators’ legislative proposals that they were encouraged by the spotlight on an issue that’s especially relevant for them.

    “I would love nothing more than affordable higher education in the United States,’’ Southern Oregon University student Emily Pfeiffer said after the roundtable on the Ashland campus.