During its February special session, the Oregon legislature passed a bill instructing the Oregon State Board of Education to make recommendations to the legislature this fall regarding the governance of virtual charter schools. Last month, the Board met to discuss the future of virtual education in Oregon.
The Board recognizes the importance of virtual charter schools in meeting children’s diverse learning needs and in providing wider access to quality public education throughout the state. However, the Board is considering adopting an approval process that will destroy the power of parents to effectively choose a virtual charter school for their children.
One model under consideration would require school districts to select from a pool of state-approved virtual schools. Students could only choose a virtual school approved by their district and still would have to get permission from their home district to attend the school.
This is a significant step back from the freedom of choice families have fought for in Oregon. Right now, parents have the entire state’s pool of virtual schools to choose from. And parents across the state can choose at least one of the state’s virtual charter schools without getting permission from their home districts.
When will Oregon join other cities and states who are stepping into the 21st century by embracing school choice and online education?
Christina Martin is a policy analyst for the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.