Will legislators stand up for school children or the teachers union?

Parents and administrators testify against SB 767 which could kill online charter schools in Oregon

The world is going paperless. Medical records are moving online. Our utility bills now arrive via email instead of in paper envelopes. We increasingly bank online and store our cancelled checks online rather than in cardboard boxes.

Even many Oregon legislators have gone paperless, and you’ll see signs on their office walls warning you that they no longer accept paper documents from constituents or lobbyists. If it can’t be delivered online, it can’t be delivered. They’re going online because they want to be more productive. They want to be part of the electronic future in which information is transported, shared and learned via zeros and ones, not via dead trees.

So why, when legislators see the value of going online themselves, might many of them enable the teachers union to prevent our public school system from reaping the same benefits? Why do they bow to teachers union demands that will block online education options for parents and their children?

The traditional classroom setting is becoming a thing of the past more slowly than it might if the adults who work in the system didn’t have as much political power as they do. While the traditional system still works for many kids, it clearly doesn’t work anymore for thousands of Oregon students who already have, or desperately want a different way to learn.

Senate Bill 767 is the union’s way of nipping one different way of learning in the bud. Despite passionate testimony from online public charter school students and their parents, this bill will stop educational progress long enough for a politically appointed task force to “study” online education and come back with recommendations that no doubt will include restricting online learning opportunities.

Watch the testimony above before the House Revenue Committee last Monday, and then let your legislators know that if they insist on a paperless office, you want them to vote NO on SB 767 and instead actually help even more kids move into the online learning world if they so choose. Hurry though; the bill could be on the House floor for a vote as early as this coming Monday morning.

Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.