Testimony to the House Education Committee on HB 3660

Christina Martin Cascade Commentary

Testimony to the House Education Committee on HB 3660

February 3, 2010

By Christina Martin

Good afternoon, Chair Gelser and Representatives. My name is Christina Martin. I am here on behalf of Cascade Policy Institute. Cascade is a strong advocate of increasing educational options for families. Online education is one of those important options.

Some parents have more options than others. Wealthy parents can choose online education regardless of what you do here today. But ordinary parents’ choices may rest on what you decide here. Currently, some can choose ORVA (Oregon Virtual Academy), while others cannot get permission from their district to make that choice. Parents can choose ORCA (Oregon Connections Academy), provided that ORCA is within its cap. But why should a parent have to settle for anything but her first choice?

I understand that you want to ensure that children in Oregon get a great education. Do that by empowering parents; don’t make them settle.

Empower parents by opening up their options. Let them choose the best option for their child. Obviously, this would require lifting the moratorium, the caps, and the 50/50 rule. Also, let parents choose a school based on a meaningful evaluation of teacher and administrator qualifications. You should not require licensure by the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission. If, for example, an experienced and qualified teacher lacks the proper license, should she be barred from teaching in Oregon? A 2006 study confirmed that licensure is not linked to teacher success.

Instead of arbitrarily requiring licensure, why not instead encourage schools to advertise teacher and administrator qualifications, empowering parents to make informed decisions?

There are some very necessary portions of this bill that must pass to ensure that SB 767 (passed last year) does not force any schools to close or into a very perilous position. But I would like to encourage you to pass a better version of this bill that would empower parents to find the best school for their kids. Do not force them to settle.


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