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3,600 Oregon students Hoping for charter school SLOTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 5, 2011

Contact: Christina Martin
Cascade Policy Institute
Tel.: 503-242-0900
Fax: 503-242-3822
E-mail: Christina@cascadepolicy.org

3,600 Oregon students Hoping for charter school SLOTS

PORTLAND – A report released today by Cascade Policy Institute shows that over 3,600 kids are on waiting lists to attend one of Oregon’s charter schools and explains why lists are long.

The study, Waiting for Choice: Charter Schools, Waiting Lists and Obstacles to Expanding Educational Opportunities for Oregon’s Kids, investigated demand for charter school options in Oregon and obstacles to increasing enrollment capacity.

“Most of Oregon’s charter schools have waiting lists. Some people have tried to blame charter schools for the waiting lists. But this report shows that ultimately it is politicians and bureaucrats who have kept kids waiting,” said Christina Martin, the lead author of the report.

Charter schools are public schools that are run by private non-profit organizations. They receive public education funds to educate kids, operating under contractual agreements with local districts or the State Board of Education. There are 108 charter schools in Oregon. In the 2008-09 school year, 2.6% of Oregon’s public school students (over 14,500 students) were enrolled in a charter school. Current enrollment is likely almost 20,000 students.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 4,700 kids were on waiting lists over the summer to attend one of Oregon’s charter schools in September. Despite the unattractiveness of a mid-year transfer, 3,600 kids were still on waiting lists late this fall.
  • Districts frequently impose enrollment caps on individual charter schools, limiting their ability to help more students.
  • It is time-consuming and costly to get district approval to open a new charter school, often costing tens of thousands of dollars for the application process alone.
  • School districts are frequently motivated to refuse charter applications because they want to keep students and their accompanying state funds in district-run schools.
  • Since 2004, Portland Public Schools has approved only three of its 17 charter applications, despite having substantial waiting lists at a majority of existing Portland charter schools. Currently, over 500 kids are waiting to get into one of Portland’s charter schools.

Commenting on the need for more charter school options for kids, former Superintendant of Corbett School District and current director of Corbett Charter School, Bob Dunton, said, “No single school can meet the needs of every child. This raises the question: should parents have to take it on faith that their local school is the best possible option, or should they be allowed to compare, to choose?”

“It’s a great thing for parents to have choice,” said parent Korin Guglielmi of Hillsboro, whose two children now attend City View Charter School. Ms. Guglielmi, a former language arts teacher, felt that City View was a great fit for her younger child and is grateful that her other child now can try the same school.

“We trust parents to feed, clothe, and care for their kids, yet thousands of parents are not empowered to make choices of how and where their kids are educated,” said Ms. Martin. “It’s time for politics to be put aside. Parents only get one chance to educate their kids.”

Click here to read the report.

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