OREGON HOUSE REPUBLICANS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2011
Contact: Nick Smith
HOUSE REPUBLICANS LAMENT LEGISLATURE’S FAILURE
TO ADOPT K-12 EDUCATION REFORMS
SALEM—Republican members on the House Education Committee today held a news conference to lament the Legislature’s failure to pursue and adopt reforms to Oregon’s K-12 education system. Republicans say entrenched special interests are blocking reforms and protecting a status quo that prevents Oregon kids from receiving a better education.
“Oregonians sent several new citizen legislators to Salem for the specific purpose of reforming K-12 education,” said Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn/Tualatin), a member of the House Education Committee. “We could have had an amazing session to reform education, lower the costs, achieve better outcomes, and launch our children to future successes. The Oregon House had an opportunity to ‘dream big’ this session. Unfortunately, those who make their living advocating for the status quo work diligently to preserve policies that support their own best interests.
“Unless kids start pooling together their allowance money to hire a lobbyist, children will continue to be woefully under-represented in any meaningful attempt to redesign the K-12 system.”
House Republicans discussed a number of proposed K-12 reforms that have been blocked this session, including those introduced by Rep. Parrish that would strategically combine education and economic development to reposition Oregon as a leader in educational outcomes and workforce development.
The package includes HB 3552 to expand the types of entities that may sponsor a public charter school; HB 3549 to allow individuals and professionals to teach certain courses in schools without being licensed or registered with the state if certain requirements are met; and HB 3551 to provide for full funding for charter schools.
“Oregon desperately needs new tools in the educational toolbox,” Rep. Parrish said. “Keeping students engaged with learning and opening career pathways would increase the success of our children. Bringing new and emerging companies to Oregon would be a win for everyone. Unfortunately, we are stuck with a system that stifles innovation and new ways of learning.”
Throughout the 2011 session, House Education Committee Co-Chair Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville) has urged the House to consider reforms modeled on those implemented in Florida. The reforms include assigning letter grades to schools based on student achievement, allowing Oregonians to track the progress of their schools and giving parents opportunities to seek better educational alternatives if their children attend schools that consistently fail.
Other Florida-style reforms include requiring annual assessments of reading ability for students in the first, second and third grades, and retaining students in the third grade if they can’t demonstrate basic reading skills. Rep. Wingard said it’s unfortunate the Legislature is unwilling to consider these and other reforms that have worked in other states.
“The House’s failure to pass reforms this session shows that some legislators are unwilling to defy the special interests and pass meaningful reforms,” Rep. Wingard said. “House Republicans will continue to pursue choice, accountability and innovation in our educational system, and will continue to propose reforms that allow Oregon students to reach their full potential.”