Portland, OR – A group of Oregon parents today announced the launch of the Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance, a coalition committed to protecting online schools as an option for Oregon families. Online schools exist in the state, but they are administered through a patchwork of regulations that artificially cap enrollment, prevent a consistent standard for access, and limit the long-term viability of the virtual school’s charter.
“Not every child fits the traditional brick-and-mortar school model,” said Angie Armstrong, President of Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance and a Coos Bay mother. The local school district denied her three children access to one of Oregon’s virtual schools. “My children excel at learning, but the school setting is not right for them. I know a virtual school will keep them focused and give them a proper curriculum and instruction.”
Since Angie was denied access to a virtual public school, she has been forced to home school her children until the school district changes its position or new statewide policies are enacted to ensure her access. Like many other parents around the state, Angie’s children were denied access because students cannot enroll in some virtual public schools without the consent of their home school district. Many districts have simply decided to block access for parents, leaving children without an online education option.
In addition, Oregon law requires that 50% of a virtual public school’s enrollment come from within the boundaries of the school district in which they are organized. The largest Oregon virtual schools operate without this rule being enforced, which allows them to offer educational services to children who don’t have an online education option in their home school district. Unfortunately, policymakers who granted this exemption are debating whether to reverse course and limit out-of-district enrollment to 50% of a virtual school’s student body. Doing so would eliminate the statewide accessibility of online education.
“Parents know what’s best for their kids,” said Armstrong. “For those of us who’ve been denied, today’s virtual public school option is simply a fantasy. Others who’ve been enrolled have to worry about even the short-term existence of their school. That’s wrong. Parents need access to a stable, virtual public school no matter where they live in Oregon.”
Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance will be focusing on educating parents about the threat to virtual schools and informing lawmakers, agency personnel, and the public about the benefits of this public education option. More information on Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance can be found at www.oregonvirtualschools.org.
For more information, please call Rebecca McAuliffe at (503) 539-2856.