First Advisor

David A. Johnson

Date of Publication

Summer 8-11-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Tax and expenditure limitations -- Oregon -- 20th century, Public schools -- Oregon -- Finance -- 20th century, Educational change -- Oregon -- 20th century, Public schools -- Oregon -- Planning -- 20th century, Teachers -- Oregon -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 141 pages)


When Oregon voters passed the property tax limitation initiative, Measure 5, and the state legislature enacted school reform under the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century during the 1990-91 school year, the trajectory of public schooling in the state changed significantly. After Oregon's tax revolt, the state legislature also enacted legislation that equalized school funding throughout the state. The combination of equalization and the Measure 5 step-down to the $5 per $1000 tax limitation led to a decrease in statewide school funding over the decade. Many wealthy urban districts experienced years of budget cuts, while rural districts received additional funding. Despite differences in school funding, teachers emphasized the importance of student teacher relationships for teaching and learning. This thesis traces the history, passage, and implementation of these pieces of legislation and evaluates the impact of school funding and school reform, two simultaneous but uncoordinated movements, on the school system in the state.

Through historical research and oral history interviews with teachers from the large urban district, Portland Public School, and the small rural district, Nyssa School District, this thesis demonstrates that teachers experienced school reform similarly. When school reform implementation relied upon teachers' collaboration to align, develop, and assess curriculum, teachers embraced change. However, when school reform shifted from outcome-based to standards-based, teachers disengaged from the reform process. They rejected reform when standardized testing drove the curriculum, was deemed irrelevant to the lives of their students, utilized inauthentic assessment, did not treat teachers as professionals, and disregarded teachers' knowledge and skills. Teachers viewed their profession as a craft and disagreed with a business model of schools. Taken together, however, school funding and school reform led to a more uniform school system centralized by the state.


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