Oregon Takes First Steps Towards Reform

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Longtime readers of the Jayblog may recall that I have, from time to time, asked exactly what is going on in K-12 in Oregon, which is very Anglo, relatively wealthy and sports bad NAEP scores.

When the Urban District NAEP came out, I noticed that several big city districts beat the statewide average in Oregon as well.

Oregon had an interesting election in 2010, splitting control of the House evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to testify before the House Education committee on the Florida reforms, which was an interesting experience as the committee had co-chairs.

Once I was finished, the lobbyist from the Oregon Education Association testified that she had done some “homework” over the weekend, and had calculated A-F grades for Oregon schools. She claimed that (gasp) many Oregon charter schools would get a grade of F.

I found this very interesting, as she had no access to student learning gain data for any of these schools, and learning gains make up half of a school’s grade under the Florida formula. Oh well, why let your credibility get in the way of a good  story?

Representative Matt Wingard, the Republican co-chair of the House Education committee, is a dogged supporter of education reform. Rep. Wingard discussed the Florida reforms on this newscast:

Rep. Wingard introduced the Florida reforms, and encountered the predictable wave of opposition. Rep. Wingard’s efforts were rewarded this session, however, as Oregon passed an open enrollment law, an improvement to their charter authorization process, and an improvement in their online learning laws.

While these gains are incremental rather than revolutionary, trust me when I tell you that they were not easily achieved. Many people take open enrollment laws for granted or think of them as weak tea while failing to appreciate the huge impact they have had in shrinking dysfunctional districts such as Detroit and Tucson.

Congratulations to Rep. Wingard for getting the reform ball rolling in Oregon.

One Response to Oregon Takes First Steps Towards Reform

  1. […] via Oregon Takes First Steps Towards Reform « Jay P. Greene’s Blog. […]

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