Oregon voters weigh whether all students should get outdoor school

Would be only state with dedicated funding

MOUNT HOOD NATIONAL FOREST, Ore. (AP) — Each year, thousands of Oregon parents hug their children goodbye and send them into the wilderness for up to a week to learn about their state's natural wonders.

Outdoor School was groundbreaking when it started more than a half-century ago. More than 1 million children have gone through this rite of passage so far.

But now just half of Oregon's 11- and 12-year-olds take part because of funding cuts in local school districts.

Now, backers of a statewide ballot measure want to use a slice of lottery proceeds to guarantee a week of Outdoor School for all children.

Experts says if it passes, Measure 99 would make Oregon the only state with dedicated funding for outdoor education, including students in charter, private and home schools.

Detractors say taking the lottery money would hurt other important initiatives, including economic development programs.

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