By Kathryn Hickok
January 22-28 is National School Choice Week, a celebration of opportunity in K-12 education. Every January, thousands of independent events draw attention to the ways school choice brings quality education to millions of students.
Families increasingly believe parents should be able to choose among the schools and resources that best meet their children’s academic and developmental needs. Here are three ways Oregon leaders can expand options for students during the legislative session that begins this week:
- Support Oregon’s thriving public charter schools by raising the 3% cap on charter enrollment. Removing the cap would allow successful charters to meet student demand.
- Expand public school district transfer policies. This would create incentives for schools to respond to families’ needs and concerns, and reward public schools that achieve better outcomes.
- Enact an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program like Arizona’s. State-level education funding is allocated per child and paid directly to district schools, regardless of student outcomes or parent satisfaction. A portion of this funding should be converted to portable accounts for students to use where they learn best.
Thirty-two states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico already have student-centric educational choice programs. Oregon should join them, so families can match their children’s needs and goals with the educational environments that will serve them well.
Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization, and Director of Cascade’s Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program.
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