Advocacy Group Cuts Gargantuan Check for Low-Profile Education Ballot Measure

Initiative Petition 65 would help school districts to fund career technical education and dropout prevention.

Most of the chatter about November ballot measures centers on Initiative Petition 28, which would raise $3 billion a year in new taxes from large corporations.

But it's another November measure that just picked up a whopping $2 million check.

This week, Stand for Children, a Portland- and Boston-based education advocacy group, donated $2 million to Oregonians for High School Success, the sponsors of Initiative Petition 65, a measure aimed at improving Oregon's woeful high school graduation rate, which is one of the country's lowest.

The measure would allow Oregon districts to apply for additional funds for career-technical education, programs that would allow high schoolers to earn college credit, and dropout prevention programs.

The measure does not raise additional money or require districts to participate but instead sets aside a portion of the future growth in revenues for the benefit of high schools.

The $2 million check is the sixth-largest contribution since electronic campaign finance filing began a decade ago. It puts Stand for Children, a relatively small nonprofit, in the same league as corporate giants such as DuPont-Pioneer ($4.65 million) and Monsanto ($2.5 million), which spent heavily to defeat a 2014 GMO-labeling measure; Philip Morris ($2.5 million), which worked to defeat a 2007 cigarette tax increase; and the Oregon Education Association, which wrote checks of $2.1 million and $2 million in 2008 to Defend Oregon, which was battling a slate of conservative ballot measures.

Oregonians for High School Success submitted 90,697 unverified IP 65 signatures to the Secretary of State's Office on May 27. The group needs to get 88,184 verified signatures by July 8, so it will probably submit another large batch before that deadline.

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