One bill which would have provided a chance for school choice to some of Oregon’s children was introduced in the State Legislature for the February 2014 session. The bill, entitled the Education Equity Emergency Act, would have created Empowerment Scholarship Accounts modeled after the highly successful Arizona program. These scholarships would help level the educational playing field for kids with special educational needs, in foster care, or in low-income families. Scholarship recipients can use ninety percent of their state education funding for approved educational expenses like private schools, tutoring, education therapy, textbooks, online education programs, community colleges, universities, or college savings plans.
Cascade founder Steve Buckstein orchestrated testimony in January’s legislative interim hearings on the bill. The bill had a “concept hearing” before the Senate Interim Education and Workforce Development Committee.* Bend Senator Tim Knopp led off, followed by two mothers with children in public schools and the director of our Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland, Kathryn Hickok. They told the committee how important the Education Equity Emergency Act (E3) would be for special needs, foster, and low-income students in Oregon.