State Board of Education Continues to Look at Virtual Charter School Issue
By Olivia Wolcott and Christina Martin
At its May 21 meeting, the Oregon State Board of Education discussed the issue of virtual charter schools, specifically Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA), after hearing testimony from ORVA parents. The Board will continue its discussion on Thursday, June 24, when they will accept further public testimony and review proposals to address the issues raised in the May 21st meeting.
Click Continue Reading to view the Board’s Response
Forced Participation: Public Education’s Fatal Flaw
by Steve Buckstein
The high school redesign exercise in Portland serves as a reminder of why top-down solutions are often doomed to fail. How could anyone except those at the top propose closing a popular and successful school like Benson Polytechnic? And how could anyone force families back inside the stifling brick walls of an unpopular and unsuccessful high school like Jefferson?
Fortunately, two individuals have recently come forward with surprisingly out-of-the-box statements that could open the door to some truly constructive solutions, at least for the students.
By Christina Martin
Losing Choice in the Portland Public Redesign
The Portland Public School District is considering a redesign that would close Marshall High School, convert Benson from a four-year vocational magnet into a two-year technical program, and eliminate most families’ option to transfer to other district schools. The plan is to make every neighborhood school big enough to support a wider variety of classes by keeping neighborhood children in their local schools.
This will trap many kids in schools that don’t serve their needs. Families with means will move close to the school that best fits their children’s needs. Families without means will be left behind, creating more inequity for the neediest families.
Click the play button to hear the audio Quick Point.
Most gradeschool children are enjoying their summer off, but some young Oregonians already have September on their minds. You see, they are on the waiting list of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland and eagerly hope to attend the school of their choice next fall.
David struggled in public school. His individual learning needs were not being met. Teachers were even concerned that he would “not ever be able to pass state test[s]” because of his learning disabilities, explains his mother, Naomi Handsaker. Yet, after “one year with ORCA [a virtual charter school] he has gone from that to passing all of his state test[s] and maintaining honor roll all year long!” Like Naomi, many families are raving about virtual schools. Yet, some powerful special interest groups would like to close these innovative schools.
Chair Hass and members of the committee, I am Kathryn Hickok from Cascade Policy Institute in Portland, speaking in opposition to SB 767. Cascade promotes public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon. We also run an entirely privately funded scholarship program for K-12 Oregon students from lower-income families. The Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland has helped nearly 650 Oregon students have access to diverse educational settings that meet their individual needs.
If the current recession leads to job losses in Oregon’s public schools, how should the cuts be made? When it comes to unionized teachers, the answer seems to be pretty simple, and pretty troubling.
From most of the reporting on the subject of school vouchers in the mainstream press and from comments by politicians and teachers’ union officials, you would think by now someone would have premiered a new TV show called “Fear Factor: School Choice.” But the argument that vouchers would make public schools worse is like the monster in the bedroom closet. It isn’t real, but many people are too afraid to open the door to find out.