Three Ways Oregon Can Help Kids Get the Education They Deserve

By Kathryn Hickok

In 2023, eight states passed universal or near-universal educational choice laws. Education Savings Accounts, vouchers, and education tax credits are different policy approaches; but the goal of each is the same: to put parents “in the driver’s seat” of their kids’ education.

A strong majority of voters agree that parents should be able to choose among schools and resources they believe will best meet their children’s academic and developmental needs. Here are three ideas for expanding education options for Oregon students:

  1. Raise the 3% cap on charter school enrollment. Oregon law restricts charter school enrollment to the equivalent of 3% of students residing in the school’s local district. Removing the enrollment cap would allow successful charter schools to grow in response to student demand.
  2. Expand public school transfer policies. Making it easier for students to transfer to other public schools or districts where open seats are available would create incentives for schools to respond to families’ needs and concerns. It also would reward district schools that achieve better outcomes.
  3. Enact an Education Savings Account (ESA) program. In Oregon, state-level education funding is allocated per child and paid directly to district schools, regardless of student outcomes or parent satisfaction. Seven states have universal ESA programs, meaning per-pupil funding can be converted to portable accounts for students who choose to opt into the program, to use where they learn best.

Approximately 20 million American children are eligible to participate in a private choice program. Oregon should learn from the ten states that now offer universal school choice and expand options for students here, 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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