Win $15,000 for a video telling your school choice story

Entry Deadline is December 1, 2017

Dear School Choice Supporters:

Some of you entered Cascade Policy Institute’s 2009 Oregon School Choice Video Contest; sharing your stories of how school choice helped you or your children, or why you wanted more choices in education.

Now, the Foundation for Excellence in Education has launched a nationwide Choices in Ed Video Competition.  Based on the sincerity and passion of the videos, eight winners will receive cash prizes from $5,000 to $15,000 each. Enter, and you might be one of them!

You’re eligible to enter if you’re a student, parent or guardian, or alumnus of existing choice programs (public school/open enrollment, charter, magnet, private school, virtual/blended, or homeschool), or a person who wants more educational choice in your state.

Videos must be under two minutes long, and must be successfully uploaded by 11:59pm EST (8:59pm Pacific time) on December 1, 2017.

Be sure to read About the Contest, the Rules and How to Enter. Then, ENTER TODAY.

We hope one or more of you will be winners. We would like to share your videos with other Oregonians whether or not you win this national competition. That way, we can help tell your story and use it to move toward more School Choices in our state.

Here are three of our favorite videos submitted to our Contest in 2009; two from students and one from a parent

Shoes

Rylee’s Choice

School Choice Coffee Analogy

You can see many other videos submitted to our contest here. They may give you some ideas for framing your Choices in Ed Video Competition submission.

Sincerely,

Steve Buckstein
Senior Policy Analyst and Founder
Cascade Policy Institute ▪ School Choice for Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Office Phone: (503) 242-0900
Email: steven@cascadepolicy.org

School Choice Legislative Hearing a Big Success

Tuesday’s Senate Education Committee Informational Hearing on ESA bill SB 437, The Educational Opportunity Act: The Power of Choice, was a rousing success.
We want to thank those who came to Salem to sit in the audience with your Yellow School Choice Scarves, and those who submitted written testimony to the Committee.
Proponents Steve Buckstein, Eric Fruits and Bobbie Jager gave testimony first, followed by three opponents representing Oregon’s largest teachers union, the Oregon School Boards Association and the League of Women Voters.  You can watch the entire one hour and 17-minute hearing online here, and see all the pro and con written testimony here.
Here are some photos from the event:

          

          

          

In the near future we will focus on specific testimony and videos we used at the hearing, but for now, we just wanted to say thank you for your support. Countless Oregon families and school children appreciate it.

Watching the Informational Hearing on SB 437 live tomorrow here

Bummed you can’t make it to Salem to watch the informational hearing on SB 437our Education Savings Account (ESA) bill, at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, June 13th at the State Capitol in Salem? Don’t fret; we’ve got a link for you to watch it live.

It’s not too late to contact your own State Senator and Representative. You can find out who they are and their contact information at Who Represents Me in Oregon

A How-to Guide on Submitting Written Testimony

SUBMITTING WRITTEN TESTIMONY:

Whether or not you can attend in person, we now have details for sending your written testimony which will be posted online prior to the June 13th hearing. View a sample here

  • Email written testimony to sed.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov. It goes to staff of the Senate Education Committee (sed).
  • The subject line of your email should be: Testimony on SB 437 for posting on OLIS (OLIS stands for Oregon Legislative Information System)
  • The best way to send testimony is to attach a PDF file of your document to your email message. If you simply put your testimony in the body of the email or attach a Word-type document then the Committee staff will convert it into a PDF file before posting it online. You then run the risk that the conversion may not look exactly as you would like it to look. Check out these instructions on how to save a Word document as a PDF
  • Here is the list of Senators on the Education Committee including the Chair, Senator Arnie Roblan (D), who kindly scheduled this hearing for us. All these Committee members will automatically receive any written testimony you send to the Committee. If you see a member who is your own State Senator, you may want to contact that individual Senator directly or try to meet with them prior to the meeting.

We expect the hearing to begin promptly at 3 pm and last approximately 30 minutes. Only invited testimony will be heard live; the audience will be there for support but will not be asked to testify in person. 

When posted on OLIS, your written testimony will appear on the SB 437 page under Meeting Material/Exhibits link. It may be posted soon after you send it, or it may appear closer to the hearing date. Note that we are supporting the bill with the -1 Amendment which sets somewhat lower ESA account dollar amounts to ensure that the bill will be roughly “revenue neutral” so as not to reduce spending per pupil in the public school system. 

TIPS FROM THE LEGISLATIVE WEBSITE FOR TESTIFYING IN PERSON AND IN WRITING:

How to Testify before a Committee
 
OUR TIPS/SUGGESTIONS FOR WRITTEN TESTIMONY:

  • Start your testimony saying something like: “Chair Roblan and members of the Senate Education Committee, I urge you to support Education Savings Accounts for Oregon students such as those set out in SB 437 with the -1 Amendment.” Don’t ask them to “vote” for the bill because this is an informational hearing only.
  • Note where you live in Oregon and how you are a stakeholder in the education system (mom, dad, grandma, teacher, and/or taxpayer, etc.)
  • Talk about your own family’s experiences with school choice or talk about how your family would benefit from more school choice in Oregon.
  • Talk about the benefits of Education Savings Accounts – NOT vouchers.
  • Be respectful. Don’t attack legislators or school choice opponents.
  • Ask legislators to help all students access more school choices.
  • Understand that SB 437 will not pass into law this year, but you want it or something like it to pass as soon as possible for all families in Oregon, and for your family in particular if you have children in school now or who will be entering school soon.
  • View a sample here.

INFORMATION ABOUT OUR EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNT BILL AND ESAs IN GENERAL:

Feel free to share this information with others, and include the link to RSVP if they plan to attend in person. Let them know that children are welcome to come with their parents to learn how the legislative process works.

Finally, we request that anyone sending written testimony also send us a copy, or send us a draft first and we’ll be happy to give you suggestions before you submit it. Send testimony to Steve Buckstein at steven@cascadepolicy.org.

If you need help drafting or submitting your written testimony, please call us at (503) 242-0900 or email Steve. 

Sample written testimony on Education Savings Accounts (SB 437)

Put testimony in your own words.

 

June 13, 2017

Dear Chairman Roblan and members of the Senate Education Committee:

My name is [Name] and I live in [City] and currently have [number of children] in the [City] Public School System. I am writing to support SB 437 and the -1 Amendment which would limit how much money goes into ESA accounts. This way, public schools should have the same or more money for each student remaining in their classrooms even as some students leave to find better educational opportunities.

[Insert personal reason you want children to access more school choice in Oregon.] Example: While my daughter is doing fine in her public grade school, my sons in middle and high schools are struggling. They both need different educational options than the school system is offering.

[Insert personal reason you support ESAs.] Example: Education Savings Accounts sound like the best opportunity for my sons, and many children, to find better learning environments than they are in now. My boys may need tutors or online courses that can help them where they are struggling. I understand that they could use part or all of an ESA account each year for a mix of such services, and if money is left over then we can roll it over into future grades. I especially like the opportunity they would have to use the remaining funds after graduating from high school to attend community college or an Oregon university.

[Insert *polite* personal reason you disagree with school choice opponents.] Example: I disagree with those who say that the legislature should only spend education money in our public school system. To me, if we are going to use taxpayer money to help educate Oregon students, then the money should be available for students to use wherever it can benefit them the most, whether public school, private, tutors, homeschooling – wherever they can learn the best.

Please learn more about the benefits that an ESA program like that offered in SB 437 could mean for my children and many Oregon students. Thank you for listening.

Respectfully,

[Name]

[Address 1]

[Address 2]

[City, State Zip]

[Phone number]

[Email]

(Address, phone and email details optional)

AN OREGON EDUCATION SOLUTION WHOSE TIME HAS COME

Derrell Bradford has spent his adult life passionately advocating for education reform through parental choice. Derrell grew up in southwest Baltimore and received a scholarship to a private high school. Better than anyone, he knows the power of educational choice to unleash a child’s potential.

“A scholarship is not a five-year plan or a power point…,” Derrell explained recently. “It’s a ticket to the future, granted today, for a child trying to shape his or her own destiny in the here and now….”

Choices in education are widespread in America, unless you are poor. Affluent families can move to different neighborhoods, send their children to private schools, and supplement schooling with enrichment opportunities. Lower- and middle-income families, however, are too often trapped with one option: a school in need of improvement assigned to them based on their home addresses. Families deserve better.

January 22-28 is National School Choice Week, the world’s largest celebration of parental choice and effective educational options for all children.

Students have different talents and needs and learn in different ways. The landscape of options to meet those needs is more diverse today than ever. These options include traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.

Oregon’s 2012 “Mother of the Year” and parental choice activist Bobbie Jager says, “The word ‘choice’ in our home means, ‘of high quality and carefully selected,’ as our children’s education and schools should be. As parents, we need to be able to make these choices for each of our children.”

It’s time Oregon took a serious look at the diversity of options parents now have in 61 school choice programs across the country, including privately or publicly funded scholarship programs, charter schools, education tax credits, vouchers, and Education Savings Accounts.

Parents—not public school bureaucracies—should be in the educational “driver’s seat.” To really empower Oregon families, the Legislature should enact Senate Bill 437 during this year’s upcoming legislative session. This law would give parents who want to opt out of a public school that is not meeting their child’s needs a portion of the per-student state funding for spending on their child’s education in other ways. With this “Education Savings Account” (analogous to a debit card for qualifying education expenses), parents can choose the schools or services that will meet their children’s learning needs.

Oregon has a history of bold experimentation in other policy areas. It’s time to expand the role of parents choosing―and the market delivering―better education for Oregon’s children through educational choice, because every child deserves a ticket to a better future right now. Parental choice is the way of the future, and Education Savings Accounts for Oregon parents are a life-changing education solution whose time has come.

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Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. This article originally appeared in The Coos Bay World on January 23, 2017.

THE OREGON EDUCATION SOLUTION WHOSE TIME HAS COME

By Kathryn Hickok.

Next week is National School Choice Week, the world’s largest celebration of parental choice and effective educational options for all children.

Students have different talents and needs and learn in different ways. The landscape of options to meet those needs is more diverse today than ever. These options include traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.

Oregon’s 2012 “Mother of the Year” Bobbie Jager says, “The word ‘choice’ in our home means, ‘of high quality and carefully selected,’ as our children’s education and schools should be. As parents, we need to be able to make these choices for each of our children.”

Parents—not public school bureaucracies—should be in the educational “driver’s seat.” To really empower Oregon families, the Legislature should enact Senate Bill 437. This law would give parents who want to opt out of a public school that is not meeting their child’s needs a portion of the per-student state funding for spending on their child’s education in other ways.

With this “Education Savings Account” (analogous to a debit card for qualifying education expenses), parents can choose the schools or services that will meet their children’s learning needs. Parental choice is the way of the future, and Education Savings Accounts for Oregon parents are a life-changing education solution whose time has come.

Cascade Policy Institute will host a National School Choice Week Policy Picnic on Wednesday, January 25, at noon. Oregon’s 2012 “Mother of the Year” Bobbie Jager will talk about how she got involved in education advocacy and what’s ahead for Oregon parents and students in 2017. Those interested in attending can find more information and RSVP here.

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Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

EDUCATIONAL CHOICE: A “TICKET TO THE FUTURE” FOR EVERY CHILD

Derrell Bradford has spent his adult life passionately advocating for education reform through parental choice. Derrell grew up in southwest Baltimore and received a scholarship to a private high school. Better than anyone, he knows the power of choice to unleash a child’s potential.

“A scholarship is not a five-year plan or a power point…,” Derrell explained recently. “It’s a ticket to the future, granted today, for a child trying to shape his or her own destiny in the here and now….”

Choices in education are widespread in America, unless you are poor. Affluent families can move to different neighborhoods, send their children to private schools, and supplement schooling with enrichment opportunities. Lower- and middle-income families, however, are too often trapped with one option: a school in need of improvement assigned to them based on their home addresses. Families deserve better.

It’s time Oregon took a serious look at the diversity of options parents now have in 61 school choice programs across the country, including privately or publicly funded scholarship programs, charter schools, education tax credits, vouchers, and Education Savings Accounts. Oregon has a history of bold experimentation in other policy areas. It’s time to expand the role of parents choosing―and the market delivering―better education for Oregon’s children through educational choice, because every child deserves a ticket to a better future today.

————————————————————————————————————————————–


Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

PRESS RELEASE: LARGEST CELEBRATION OF EDUCATION REFORM IN U.S. HISTORY BEGINS JANUARY 24

Cascade Policy Institute Plans Special Event to Celebrate National School Choice Week 2016

Portland, Oregon to play role in nation’s largest celebration of education reform

Portland, Ore. – Cascade Policy Institute will hold a special event in celebration of National School Choice Week 2016, organizers announced today. The event will shine a spotlight on the need to expand access to educational options for all children.

The event will take place at noon on Thursday, January 28, at Cascade Policy Institute. Cascade’s Founder and Senior Policy Analyst Steve Buckstein will discuss the latest school choice news and what’s happening in Oregon. The event is open to the public, but reservations are required.

“Oregon is behind the national school choice curve. It’s time we caught up, so all Oregon students can get the best education possible regardless of their zip code,” said Buckstein.

School choice means empowering parents with the freedom to choose the best educational environments for their children. The goal of National School Choice Week (NSCW) is to raise public awareness of all types of education options for children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.

Started in 2011, NSCW has grown into the world’s largest celebration of opportunity in education. The Week is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical public awareness effort and welcomes all Americans to get involved and to have their voices heard. Held every January, NSCW shines a positive spotlight on effective education options for every child.

National School Choice Week 2016 will be held January 24-30, 2016. The Week will be the largest series of education-related events in U.S. history:

  • 16,140 total events across all 50 states
  • 13,224 schools of all types are holding events
  • 808 homeschool groups are holding events
  • 1,012 chambers of commerce are holding events
  • 27 governors have issued proclamations recognizing School Choice Week in their states
  • More than 200 mayors and county leaders have issued School Choice Week proclamations
  • There will be rallies and special events at 20 state capitol buildings

“From 150 events in our inaugural year, 2011, to 5,500+ events in 2014, the impact of National School Choice Week has been nothing short of incredible,” said Andrew Campanella, National School Choice Week’s president.

“Thinking back to that first year, I am just overwhelmed at how much NSCW has grown, with so many different folks across the country shining in the positive spotlight of this effort. From students and parents and teachers to school leaders, elected officials, governors, mayors, state legislators, concerned citizens, education organizations and small businesses, National School Choice Week has truly brought people together to celebrate educational opportunity.”

By participating in National School Choice Week 2016, Cascade Policy Institute joins hundreds of organizations, thousands of groups, and millions of Americans in raising awareness about the need to empower parents with the ability to choose the best educational environments for their children.

Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s premier policy research center. Cascade’s mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity.

For more information, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com or visit cascadepolicy.org.