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Working for Educational Freedom - Restoring Parental Control


The New Oregon School Reform Laws, With Comments by PEAPAC

Bills we particularly like:
  • House Bill 2301 - increases number of virtual charter schools, giving parents more choice, and allows for more non-union teachers.
  • House Bill 3681 - lets parents have more choice as to which public school their children go to.
Bills the teacher's union (OEA, opponents of parental control of education)) dislike (with their comments):
  • House Bill 3645 - promotes the growth of charter schools at a time when we're closing public schools all over the state
  • House Bill 3681 - will enact statewide open enrollment, causing more financial havoc for already-struggling districts
  • House Bill 2301 - will force public schools to pay for students to attend for-profit virtual, charter schools
  • Senate Bill 250 - will hijack a compromise on reform of Education Service Districts and impose a bill that would do real harm to our smaller, rural schools
OEA President Gail Rasmussen: "I'm disappointed that in the rush to get out of Salem, some really bad bills passed that will do real harm to our schools that are already in crisis." Source: It's always good when God brings confusion to His opponents. These set of bills produced a major rift between Gov. Kitzhaber and various Legislators on the one hand, and the Oregon Education association on the other.

Comments on all the reform bills, based on coverage by Oregon Capitol News, with comments by PEAPAC

1. School choice, kind of
A slimmed-down "school choice" bill passed both chambers... House Bill 3681 eliminates the requirement that a student's home district approve the student's transfer to another district, taking their state funds with them. The student would need only the approval of the district to which he transfers. "This is about choice. This is about access," said Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, who carried the bill.
PEAPAC Comment: Since this increases parental choice, we like it.

2. Kindergarten
Full-day Kindergarten are now a free option for more Oregon families. Senate Bill 248 allows school districts to offer full-day Kindergarten, starting with the 2015-2016 school year. The law also requires school districts to offer half-day Kindergarten until the same school year. Legislative services described the fiscal impact as indeterminate, but Rep. Tobias Read, D-Beaverton, said in his opening statement that schools would need to spend approximately 20 to 25 percent more on Kindergarten than they already do.
PEAPAC Comment: Research shows that kindergarten has very little effect on what students can read by third grade. This is a daycare bill, and we strongly oppose it, for financial and philosophical reasons. Children of Christians are disciples, and should be raised in the culture of Jesus Christ. This won't happen at a government kindergarten.

3. Picking up the slack
Both chambers voted unanimously to transfer nearly $200 million from the Education Stability Fund to the State School Fund. HB 5055 includes $25 million for K-12 schools in addition to the $5.7 billion in state aid. The bill also includes money for special education to maintain the level of spending on special education that was provided by the federal stimulus spending.
PEAPAC Comment:- Government school funding should be decreased, not increased. Government controlled education is America's greatest idol and substitute for Christ and His Kingdom. Like the leech's two daughters, it is never satisfied, always crying "More, more" and both parties almost always concur. Conservatives are funding their enemies as they train children in euro-socialism, sexual sin, environmental extremism and secularism.

4. A new leader for state public schools
Gov. Kitzhaber will become the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Oregon. Senate Bill 552, which passed the House 38-22, grants the governor a new title and the authority to appoint the Deputy Superintendent. Rep. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, said he believed the superintendent still would be a political position, but one that is "not independent, but dependent on the governor."
PEAPAC Comment: Tends towards centralization. Additionally, it further politicizes education. Bad bill.

5. Supplemental learning (HB 3362)
A bill encouraging the creation of career and technical education (CTE) passed the House. Vocational training or "shop," CTE offers an alternative to now-traditional college prep by teaching students the same skills but in technical settings such as mechanics or architecture.
PEAPAC Comment: Less politics, more practical value. Good bill!

6. Higher education-backed charter schools (HB 3645)
State community colleges and universities may sponsor charter schools despite initially opposing the bill putting the measure in place. Community college leaders raised concerns over language that required Oregon University System schools to consider, "in good faith," all requests for charter school sponsorship. They removed their opposition after the bill was amended to request that colleges only consider sponsorship. Supporters of the measure said on the House floor that extending sponsorship ability to Oregon colleges and universities would make it easier to create charter schools.
PEAPAC Comment: May potentially increase charter schools, giving parents more choice and more political freedom in the schooling of their children, and also lessen the control of the teacher's union (OEA). Good!

7. Distribution of funding between charter and non-chartered public schools
House Bill 3417 specifies how school districts distribute funds to public charter school and non-chartered public schools. The bill requires that a school district's average daily membership, which is used to determine distribution of funding, be calculated separately for students at the two types of schools. The proposed legislation also removes the requirement that a school district transfer a portion of its average daily membership to the school district of a student who is not a resident in the school district in which he or she attends school.
PEAPAC Comment: Imposes new financial requirements on public charter schools.

8. Preparing teachers and administrators (HB 3474)
The House voted unanimously Tuesday to establish the Educator Preparation Improvement Fund, aimed toward better preparing teachers and administrators for public school instruction. The bill also directs the State Department of Education and the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to determine teacher performance standards and outline preparatory programs for administrators and teachers.
PEAPAC Comment: We disagree with the two underlying principles that drive this legislation - state funding of schools and state/political control of teaching methods, training and measures.

9. Education board for all Oregon students
A bill establishing Gov. Kitzhaber's controversial statewide education board will soon cross his desk. Senate Bill 909 creates the Oregon Education Investment Board to oversee the performance of all public school students in Oregon from preschool through higher education.
PEAPAC Comment: We dislike the new name which includes the word "Investment." This is state-speak for spending, and is part of the tactics to justify ever-increasing tax dollars for government politically correct schools. Parents, not others, are responsible for the education of their own children, and its costs. We also dislike the increasing centralization this law creates. It extends all the baggage and potential tyranny of public school thinking to all children, from birth. One of the first tasks of this Board is to create a database of all Oregon children, for the [purposes of evaluating their educational progress. This Board constitutes the greatest potential danger to Christian parents that we have ever seen.

10. Cutting schools loose from education service districts
Senate Bill 250, which passed both chambers this week, allows specified school districts to withdraw from an Education Service District. Education Service Districts pool district funds for smaller, specialized services such as those for disabled students. School districts could choose to opt out of this pool under the proposed legislation, contracting specialized services on their own.
PEAPAC Comment: A more decentralized approach, giving parents more input over local control. We like it.

11. Student achievement program grant
All but one legislator voted in favor of Senate Bill 252 this week, establishing the School District Collaboration Grant Program to fund student achievement improvement measures. The program relies on voluntary collaboration from administrators and teachers to plan and implement new approaches to preparing students for the future.
PEAPAC Comment: We support taking dollars away from public schools, not giving them more for more programs. We therefore don't like this new program.

12. Remote elementary schools
Both chambers passed Senate Bill 453 this week, a bill to allow schools to qualify as remote small elementary schools for funding distribution purposes if not located within eight miles of a school in the same district.
PEAPAC Comment: Okay.

Christian: the distinction that makes the difference!
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