Oregon Parents Deserve to Be the Voice for Kids’ Education Options

By Bobbie Jager

For the second year in a row, Oregon has reported the third-lowest graduation rate in the country. With a four-year adjusted public high school graduation rate of 74.8% (2015-16), Oregon only beats Nevada and New Mexico, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The typical response to this kind of bad news is for teachers unions and legislators to claim that taxpayers are “underfunding” public schools; and that’s why so many kids don’t make it to graduation. But Oregon already spends more on K-12 education than 33 other states. According to the National Education Association’s Rankings & Estimates report for 2016 and 2017, revenue per Oregon student in Average Daily Attendance is nearly $14,000, including local, state, and federal funding. That puts Oregon more than four percent above the national average in school spending.

As a mother and parental choice advocate, I have been involved with education for 38 years, and I have been deeply involved at the state level here in Oregon for five. I have listened to story after story of young people whose parents went to extraordinary lengths to help them succeed in school. Whether through earning a scholarship to a private school, moving to another neighborhood or public school district, winning a charter school enrollment lottery, or choosing online or home school options, Oregon families have amazing tales to tell. While there are many inspiring success stories, there are also far too many heartbreaking examples of frustration and of families spending years fighting the government school bureaucracy.

I have interacted with the public school system for decades. Sadly, nothing is changing for the better. When is enough, enough? The one-size-fits-all, government-run school system isn’t meeting the learning needs of many kids today. Handing more money to the same system isn’t changing anything.

As parents, we have the right and the responsibility to say it’s time for us to have the power to choose the education options that are best for our children. We are the ones who tuck our children in at night, help them when they can’t understand their schoolwork, hold them when they “feel dumb” because they’re just not getting it, or support and encourage them when they are a “failure to launch” into adult life because they didn’t get the education they needed to get a good start. But parents are too often the last ones invited into the conversation or listened to.

To raise awareness about all the choices parents have for K-12 education today, Americans from coast to coast are celebrating National School Choice Week January 21-27, 2018. Beginning seven years ago with 150 events, the Week has grown exponentially ever since, becoming the world’s largest education-related public awareness effort. National School Choice Week (www.schoolchoiceweek.com) is nonpartisan and nonpolitical and does not advocate for or against any legislation.

National School Choice Week celebrations include school fairs, parent nights, school tours, educational field trips, homeschool information sessions, student performances, celebratory rallies, and more. More than 32,240 events and activities will focus on all education options available today, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling. More than 313 events will take place in Oregon alone, sponsored by private schools, charter schools, and other organizations.

Hundreds of thousands of parents already “vote with their feet” to get their children the education that is best suited to their talents, interests, needs, and learning styles. They sacrifice whatever it takes to make sure their children have the chance to succeed. Whatever kinds of schools parents choose, the landscape of educational options to meet students’ learning needs is more diverse today than ever.

I believe that with Oregon’s latest round of dismal graduation results, we are at a tipping point. There are no “do-overs” when a child is growing up. We must get it right from the start. More choice in education is the way of the future. Join us in celebrating National School Choice Week, and help us make a change for your—and for all—children.

Bobbie Jager, Oregon’s 2012 “Mother of the Year,” is a parental choice advocate and the School Choice Outreach Coordinator for the Portland-based Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. A version of this article was originally published by the Pamplin Media Group and appeared in The Portland Tribune on January 25, 2018.

Click here for the PDF version:

Oregon_Parents_Deserve_to_Be_the_Voice

School Choice Is More Than “Just Choosing a Different Brick Building”

January 24, 2018

By Kathryn Hickok

This week is National School Choice Week, the world’s largest celebration of educational choice. Held nationwide every January, the Week raises awareness about the K-12 possibilities available to children and families, while spotlighting the benefits of parental choice. More than 313 events will take place in Oregon alone, sponsored by private schools, charter schools, and other organizations. The Week is nonpartisan and nonpolitical.

“School Choice is much more than just choosing a different brick building,” said Cascade’s Senior Policy Analyst and Founder Steve Buckstein. “It’s choosing different ways of learning, different people to facilitate that learning, and demanding different outcomes that meet individual student needs rather than the needs of officials in Salem.”

Nationwide, more than 32,240 events and activities will focus on all education options available today, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling. Whatever kind of educational environment parents choose for their children, the options for meeting students’ learning needs is becoming more diverse every year. By participating in National School Choice Week, Cascade Policy Institute supports parents throughout Oregon and the U.S. in advocating for the ability to choose the best education possible for their children.

Cascade Policy Institute will host a lunch roundtable on Wednesday, January 24, at noon. Speakers will be Cascade’s Senior Policy Analyst and Founder Steve Buckstein, School Choice Outreach Coordinator Bobbie Jager, and Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon Director Kathryn Hickok. Admission is free, but reservations are required due to space limitations. Participants are welcome to bring their own lunch; light refreshments will be served. Cascade’s monthly “Policy Picnic” series is sponsored by Dumas Law Group, LLC.

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

Click here for the PDF version:

1-24-18-School_Choice_More_Than_a_Building

National School Choice Week Celebrates Diversity in K-12 Education

By Kathryn Hickok

National School Choice Week is the world’s largest celebration of educational options for all children. Held nationwide every January, National School Choice Week raises awareness about the K-12 education options available to children and families, while spotlighting the benefits of school choice. This year’s celebration will be January 21-27.

Planned by a diverse coalition of individuals and organizations, School Choice Week features thousands of independent events and activities across the country. Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, explains, “More American families than ever before are actively choosing the best educational environments for their children, which has galvanized millions of additional parents―those without options―to demand greater choices for their own children.”

Children have different talents, interests, and needs; and they learn in different ways. Whether parents choose public, charter, private, online, or home schools—or some combination of all of them—the landscape of educational options to meet students’ learning needs is more diverse today than ever. It’s becoming increasingly evident that more choice in education is the way of the future. For more information about National School Choice Week, visit schoolchoiceweek.com.

Please join Cascade Policy Institute for our monthly Policy Picnic on Wednesday, January 24, at noon, celebrating National School Choice Week, the world’s largest celebration of educational options for all children. This month’s speakers will be Cascade’s Senior Policy Analyst and Founder Steve Buckstein, School Choice Outreach Coordinator Bobbie Jager, and Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon Director Kathryn Hickok. Admission is free, but reservations are required due to space limitations. You are welcome to bring your own lunch; light refreshments will be served.

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

Click here for the PDF version:

1-3-18-NSCW_Celebrates_Diversity_in_K-12_Education