The Oregon legislature is once again increasing the web of red tape for Oregon’s virtual charter schools via House Bill 3660. Last year, the legislature passed a two-year moratorium on virtual schools. It capped enrollment and temporarily forbade future waivers from a misguided regulation requiring half of charter school students to live in the school’s home district. The regulation limits the power of virtual education to help students everywhere.
House Bill 3660 feels a bit like extortion for parents who support school choice. On one hand, the bill holds some essential provisions that will allow virtual schools to plan for the future by applying for waivers prior to the moratorium’s expiration. It also protects the Oregon Virtual Academy from losing a significant portion of its enrollment due to poor wording in last year’s bill.
However, the bill heaps new, substantial burdens on all virtual charter schools, needlessly increasing reporting and licensure requirements, among other things. What have these charter schools done to deserve such treatment? They have grown quickly and excelled.
While the legislature has squabbled about which new burdens to heap onto Oregon’s successful charter schools, many parents have had their choice of a charter school denied or delayed, as current schools have reached their enrollment cap for certain grades. Why is the legislature continuing to limit parents’ educational options for their children?
Christina Martin is a policy analyst for the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.