School Choice Hits Home

With the release of movies like “Waiting for Superman”, “The Lottery”, and “The Cartel”, more and more Americans are beginning to realize that they must engage in the battle for the very future of our children. These movies are a visual wake-up call and and indictment against the status quo. For our family, the awakening came a few years ago.

Like most parents, when your child is succeeding in public school, you don’t worry too much about what other choices are available to you.  I figured since I pay property taxes, business taxes, income taxes…etc that I would continue to send my children to the local zoned school in my district. That is until we realized just how far behind our son really was.

I’m not a disconnected parent.  In fact, I was in constant contact with my son’s school and his teacher.  For years I had concerns, and at every teacher’s conference or meeting I was told that my son was doing fine and “not to worry.”  At the end of the fourth grade year, my son had not passed a single state mandated test.  I was NEVER informed of his struggles and at that point we realized that my son was over two years behind in reading and at least three years behind in math.

After weeks of meeting with education specialists, private schools, tutors, bureaucrats, school superintendents etc, we finally found a solution that we felt was right for our family.  The choice we made was an online public school offered by Connections Academy.   No sooner did we settle into the new reality of semi-homeschool, did our battle to educate our son begin.

Within days of enrolling our son, we were notified by a state legislator that these online public charter schools were being targeted by the local teacher’s unions.  The bill the unions and state democrat representatives were supporting would eventually completely shut down these schools by requiring a 50% in district registration requirement. The bill passed down straight party lines.

I was shocked to find out that the Oregon Education Association’s number one legislative priority was shutting down these public schools, simply because the teachers at these schools are not unionized.  Over fifty percent of the children that attend these online public charter schools are below federal poverty levels. What other choices did these families have?  Who was speaking on behalf of the thousands of children on waiting lists to attend these charter schools?  It was on that day that we fully engaged in the fight for school choice and education reform.

Fast forward to today:

  • Most importantly my son is succeeding with A’s and B’s in advanced classes.
  • This legislative session, there are several “fix-it” bills to try to reduce the damage caused to education reform last session.
  • Several legislators are working to bring Florida style education reform to Oregon.
  • Oregon lawmakers are working directly with parent advocates as they work to reform Oregon’s abysmal education system.

Oregon children have a brighter future with a balanced house and pro-reform legislators, but we can’t back down. For the last three and a half years I have worked nearly every waking moment to change the political landscape in our state. I’ve worked to educate and empower parents to get involved and make a difference in the battles that are important to them. It is working, albeit slower than I’d like, but it’s working.

What I hope our story does is encourage EVERY parent to get involved in school reform in your state.  One person can make a difference, and thousands can change the lives of millions of children trapped in a failing education system.

To find out more about our story and the battles we face, read more about “A Mother’s Plea for School Choice”.