A Fairer Economy for All
BUILDING A FAIRER ECONOMY FOR ALL
The global pandemic highlighted long-standing economic inequities that continue to grow and put serious strains on working families. In fact, the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us is now wider than it has been since World War I.
When my father immigrated to the United States, he took a union job as a logger in Valsetz, a logging community in the Central Oregon Coastal Range. That job allowed my father to pursue schooling and eventually land in graduate school, where he met my mother. That first union job paid dividends for three generations of Kristofs, as it set me on a path to success, and later did the same for my three children. I want that trajectory for more Oregon families.
But one’s financial security, stability, or well-being shouldn’t be left to individual grit and luck. We also need to make sure that the interests of big corporations and financial institutions don’t supersede those of people experiencing poverty or who are in the middle-class. Corporations and financial institutions need to pay their fair share.
It is time to move toward a more just economy through increased opportunity: improved economic fairness, increasing the supply of better-paying jobs, and supporting workers’ aspirations with pathways and training over the course of their careers.
The education system in Oregon must be more equitable and just for our children, from infancy on. We owe all children a fair start in life in the form of access to an education escalator. America’s education system should create opportunity, yet in Oregon it has transmitted advantage and disadvantage from one generation to the next.
We need to start by making greater investments with our youngest Oregonians by expanding pre-K because we have a below-average share of children participating in pre-K. We also need to provide sufficient resources and support for our students and teachers. When fewer than half of third-graders are on track for reading, and fourth-grade scores in math are seventh from bottom, and only 3 in 4 ninth-graders have the credits needed to be on track to graduate, education must be a top priority.
Unlike other states, Oregon also allows children to drop out of high school before age 18 if they get a job. The roots of these problems are complicated and go far beyond the education system – they include high rates of mental illness, addiction, foster care, and poverty – but we have to ensure that from infancy to higher education, we do a better job to prepare young Oregonians, ensure they graduate high school prepared for their next steps, and put them on track to be successful in their careers.