By Olivia Wolcott
This summer, education funding and program cuts have had parents, teachers and voters clamoring for more money to pour into Oregon’s struggling public education system. The Oregon Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, claims that school budget cuts show voters and politicians don’t understand that educational reform and innovation come at a high price. However, the OEA has steadfastly opposed the educational innovation of cost-saving virtual charter schools. In fact, the union has called the crippling regulation of these online schools its “top priority.”
Virtual public charter schools offer stable and successful education options to children who best thrive away from a traditional public school environment, or whose rural location gives them few educational options. But they also threaten union power, since their teachers are not required to become union members.
Public schools across the state, especially in rural areas, fail to provide many children with a quality education. This problem can only get worse when a failing system loses funding without reforming its education model. If the OEA truly supported the best interests of Oregon children, it would support the virtual charter schools that have the ability to improve education through cost-saving innovation.
Olivia Wolcott is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.