Desperate to meet cost-cutting school districts part way, Gov. Ted Kulongoski has spread his attention to previously off-limits segments of the state budget in search of money for education.
In his hunt for education dollars, the governor has landed on the idea of raising hunting and fishing fees to generate $5 million for schools.
This understandably caused rancor with sporting groups.
But it's not about cost.
Anglers and hunters are supportive of fee increases if the increases stabilize funding for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
But schools? The uproar was all but immediate.
Not so fast. There is an opportunity here.
Oregon's decade-old Education Reform for the 21st Century Act outlines ways that schools can better integrate a child's education and the andquot;real world.andquot; Schools attempting to meet the ideals of the Act would probably benefit from a curriculum that combines physical education with ecology, biology with mathematics, physics with home economics.
Many districts have an Outdoor School, a multi-day segment for students in the sixth grade that attempts to connect the classroom to the natural world through field studies.
But after that week, the effort ends, as if one week out of the more than 400 weeks of K-12 education is enough to prepare students to live in anything other than awe and fear of the outdoors.
Kulongoski's proposal, however, opens the door to an exciting opportunity for Oregon's educational system.
It is rare that a child has the opportunity to try hunting and fishing unless his or her parents are anglers or hunters. That could change if Oregon links hunting and fishing fees with education and earmarks the money for cross-curricular education built around fishing and hunting.
Unlike using tobacco taxes to fund education, Oregon can encourage students to try hunting and fishing. The educational tie-ins are limitless: the physical stamina required to hunt, and then to haul out a carcass; the physics of casting a line or sighting in a rifle; learning an animal's habits and habitat; and how to safely gut a fish or game animal's carcass and prepare the meat for human consumption.
Give kids a chance to try hunting and fishing for themselves, and the andquot;raidandquot; on tag fees could become a prudent investment in Oregon's future.