Welcome Back to School

Welcome back to school! This is an exciting time for students and parents as the 2018-2019 school year is fully under way. My name is Debbie Thibodeaux, President of the Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance (OVPSA) and learning coach to my own three children, ages 9, 14 and 16. OVPSA is a coalition of Oregon virtual public school families and supporters dedicated to the long-term viability of virtual public schools in our state.

Joint Committee on Student Success in Medford - June 5

Dear Virtual School Parent,

On Tuesday, June 5 at 7:00pm, the  will be holding a hearing at Pawlowski Athletic Center at Central Medford High School. The Committee will be traveling around the state to hear from students, parents, teachers and administrators. They will explore the best practices in schools around Oregon and develop recommendations to address the gaps that are limiting student success.

It is vitally important that virtual public schools are part of this debate. As a virtual public school family, would you be willing to testify at this hearing to let our state leaders know why a virtual public school is the right fit for your family?

Please see the hearing details below:

Joint Legislative Committee on Student Success
Tuesday, June 5
7:00pm – public hearing
6:30pm – witness registration
Pawlowski Athletic Center
Central Medford High School
815 South Oakdale Ave.
Medford

The virtual school parent voice must be heard in the debate surrounding education in our state. Are you willing to be that voice? Please respond to info@oregonvirtualschools.org if you are interested in testifying at the June 5th hearing in Medford. 

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent need.

Sincerely,

Debbie Thibodeaux
President, OVPSA
Parent to Jordan - 9th grade, Baker Web Academy
Michaela - 7th grade, Baker Web Academy
Zach - 3rd grade, Baker Academy


www.oregonvirtualschools.org
info@oregonvirtualschools.org

 

Education Hearing In Hermiston - April 25

On Wednesday, April 25 at 7:00pm, the Joint Legislative Committee on Student Success will be holding a hearing at Hermiston High School in Hermiston. The Committee will be traveling around the state to hear from students, parents, teachers and administrators. They will explore the best practices in schools around Oregon and develop recommendations to address the gaps that are limiting student success.

Education Hearing In Baker City - April 24

On Tuesday, April 24 at 7:00pm, the Joint Legislative Committee on Student Success will be holding a hearing at Baker High School in Baker City. The Committee will be traveling around the state to hear from students, parents, teachers and administrators. They will explore the best practices in schools around Oregon and develop recommendations to address the gaps that are limiting student success.

Eugene-area virtual school parents - we need your help!

On Thursday, March 22 at 7:00pm, the Joint Legislative Committee on Student Success will be holding a hearing at Sheldon High School in Eugene. The Committee will be traveling around the state to hear from students, parents, teachers and administrators. They will explore the best practices in schools around Oregon and develop recommendations to address the gaps that are limiting student success.

Help us tell your story

 hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying Winter Break.

We need your help on a quick project. As many virtual public school families know, changing the perception of virtual public school classrooms is one of the more difficult parts of what we do. Allowing families to provide their children with the best learning environment for them is what drives us in our pursuit of a robust and widely supported virtual public school system. Unfortunately, we still have a ways to go towards educating many policymakers who do not know about the existence and benefits of online learning for families across the state. 

Join us for the 10th Annual Virtual Schools Capitol Day

In 2009 a group of virtual school families gathered on the steps of the State Capitol in Salem to demonstrate their support for virtual public education. Now in its 10th year, Virtual Public Schools Capitol Day continues to give families - like yours! - an opportunity to tell their legislators why virtual public education is an important option for so many Oregon students.  
 

Make sure your voice is heard on virtual school bills

Dear Virtual School Family,

We need your help! On Monday, April 10 the House Education Committee will be considering two bills related to virtual public education. The first bill, HB2898, would take into account the unique and diverse group of students who attend virtual public schools and their individual progress toward graduation. We support this bill, and we need you to ask your legislators to support it, too!

The second bill, HB2720, would create a study to evaluate virtual public schools. We oppose this bill, and we need you to ask your legislators to oppose it, too!

HB2898
Oregon has one of the worst graduation rates in the country, and improving our students’ performance is an important goal for all Oregonians. But, data can often be deceiving. We all know that many of our kids came to virtual public school because the traditional school just wasn’t working for them. That sometimes means they’re behind grade level when they enter a virtual school. Under the current system of measuring performance, our online schools are rated by the percentage of their kids who are performing at grade level. Ultimately this means that our schools are being penalized for enrolling these students and trying to get them back on track.

HB2898 would create a new method for analyzing student achievement data in Oregon so that students who are behind grade level are measured by their year-to-year growth rather than whether they’re at the same level as their peers. This will allow our schools to be judged based on how much they are helping students get back on track and make progress toward graduation. 

Kids who aren't a good fit for traditional schools used to be the ones who “fell through the cracks.” That is not acceptable with our current technology and public school options. Oregon’s method for collecting data on schools and kids must catch up with today’s reality.

We support HB2898.

HB2720
Virtual public schools have faced more scrutiny than any other type of public school and are without question the most transparent and accountable schools in Oregon. Our schools must comply with dozens of rules over and above those that apply to traditional brick and mortar public schools. 

Among other things, virtual public schools have additional academic achievement and school performance requirements, limitations on who can serve as an employee or board member of the school, and guaranteed public access to all financial data for the school and its vendors.

Our schools have been studied at length, and each new attempt, like HB2720, is yet another attempt by opponents of parent choice to limit our access to schools that work for our kids.

We oppose HB2720.

Will you take a moment to email your State Senator and State Representative to voice your opinion on these bills?

Just click here and you’ll be taken to an email form. The basic message is filled out already, but you have the option of creating a personalized introduction and closing. In addition, don’t forget to let legislators know why a virtual public school is the right choice for your family! Then, fill out your address, and your message will be sent to your State Senator and State Representative.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of your own children and the rest of Oregon’s virtual public school students!

Sincerely,
Debbie Thibodeaux
President
Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance

Join us for Virtual Schools Capitol Day

Dear Virtual School Family,
 
Here is a fun and engaging way to teach your children about how the government works and show your support for virtual public education: join other virtual school students and parents for Virtual Public Schools Capitol Day on Tuesday, March 7, 2017!
 
Every year, Oregon virtual public school families travel to the State Capitol in Salem to express their support for virtual public education. Capitol Day is an opportunity to thank our legislative champions, show support for virtual public schools and talk to legislators about protecting this important education option. Students will have the opportunity to participate in educational activities and visit their state legislators in the Capitol Building.
 
I hope you will join my family and many other virtual public school families in Salem on March 7. Please click here to register now.
 
Here’s our agenda:
 
9:30am – Registration at the Mission Mill Museum
1313 Mill St., SE, Salem (2 blocks from State Capitol Building – free on-site parking available)
10:00am – Welcome
10:15am – Legislative update
10:30am – Fun and interactive education program
11:30am – Lunch
12:15pm – Walk to the Capitol
12:30pm – Legislator awards ceremony on the Capitol Steps
1:00pm – Legislator visits
1:30pm/2:30pm – Capitol tours (available on first come, first served basis)
  
Capitol Day is your opportunity to

  • meet other virtual public school families
  • teach your children about state government
  • tell your state legislators why virtual public education is an option that needs to be protected.

Please make sure your voice is heard in the halls of the Capitol! I hope you will attend Virtual Public Schools Capitol Day on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Register today!

Sincerely,

Debbie Thibodeaux
President, OVPSA
Parent to Jordan - 8th grade, Baker Web Academy
Michaela - 6th grade, Baker Web Academy
Zach - 2nd grade, Oregon Virtual Academy

P.S. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, would you please take a few minutes to fill out our family survey? Take the 2016 Oregon Virtual Public School Family Survey
 
www.oregonvirtualschools.org
info@oregonvirtualschools.org

Help us tell your virtual public school story

Dear Virtual School Family:

We need your help on a quick project!

As many virtual public school families know, changing the perception of virtual public school classrooms is one of the more difficult parts of what we do everyday. Allowing families to provide their children with the best learning environment for them is what drives us in our pursuit of a robust and widely supported virtual public school system. Unfortunately, we still have a ways to go towards educating many policymakers who do not know about the existence and benefits of online learning for many families across the state. 

One of the most effective ways that we can convey this message is by telling the story of how your family has benefitted from our virtual public schools.

Please take five minutes and fill out our online survey so that we can show our lawmakers the benefits of funding and supporting virtual public schools.

We will not share any of your individual responses unless you give us permission. The data will be aggregated and shared with Oregon’s leaders on education policy.

Informing policymakers about virtual public schools and the enormous benefit they bring to our kids continues to be our mission, and you can make a big difference in this effort.

Please take five minutes to fill out our online survey.

With the help of virtual public school families across the state, we have been able to protect our funding in past legislative sessions, despite bills that threatened to reduce it significantly. There will be more challenges ahead, and we are working hard to prepare for them now. With your help, we will be ready.

Thank you for your help and support.

Sincerely,

Debbie Thibodeaux
President

2016 Oregon Voter's Guide

Dear Virtual Public School Family:

 

Those of you who have supported our efforts over the years know that elected state officials ultimately decide whether or not our virtual public schools survive and thrive here in Oregon.

With the fall election only a couple of weeks away, we want to be sure that you have information on where candidates stand when it comes to making virtual public education available to families who need it.  With that in mind, the Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance circulated a candidate questionnaire to the two major party candidates for Governor and each individual running for the State Senate and State House of Representatives. We have compiled candidates’ responses to our questionnaire for your review. 

Click here to view candidate responses

If you do not know who represents you in the state legislature, you can click here to find out.

We feel it’s important that you know who shares your values when it comes to parent choice in education. Please review this information, fill out your ballot, and return it by November 8.

If any of the candidates who express support for virtual public schools are running in your area, we urge you to thank them. If the issue of access to virtual public education is an important factor in determining which state candidates you support, then we urge you to call their campaign office and ask how you can help them. Get involved and build a personal relationship with that candidate. If we want legislators to be there for us when it matters, then it’s nice for us to be there for them when it matters most to them. If you need information on how to reach a candidate, please email us, info@oregonvirtualschools.org, and we will help get you in touch. 

We hope this information is helpful, and we look forward to working with you in the 2017 legislative session to protect parent access to a quality virtual public education.

Sincerely,

Debbie Thibodeaux
President

 

Welcome Back to School!

Dear Virtual Public School Family,

Welcome back to school! This is an exciting time for students and parents as we kick off the 2016-2017 school year. My name is Debbie Thibodeaux. I am the President of the Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance (OVPSA), a coalition of virtual school families and supporters dedicated to the long-term viability of virtual public schools in Oregon. I have three children enrolled in virtual public school and for the last seven years, I have been actively involved in advocating on behalf of Oregon virtual public school families.

2016 Legislative Wrap Up

 Dear Virtual School Parents,

The State Legislature adjourned the 2016 legislative session earlier this month.  But during the short session, virtual public schools were once again the target of state policymakers who don’t understand this important education option.

Legislation introduced by State Rep. Susan McLain would have created a study to evaluate virtual public schools.  Virtual public schools have faced more scrutiny than any other public school and are without question the most transparent and accountable schools in Oregon.  Our schools must comply with dozens of rules over and above those that apply to traditional brick and mortar public schools.  

Thousands of Oregon families have found success for their children in virtual public schools. It’s a vital part of our public school system that gives kids who need an alternative to the traditional classroom a place to get a quality education. But Rep. McLain’s virtual school study bill would have opened the door for opponents of parent choice to limit our access to schools that work for our kids. 

We called on parents to help us defeat this bill.  And you did!  Virtual school parents sent emails and made phone calls to legislators urging them to oppose even more scrutiny of virtual schools. Your voice was heard in the State Capitol!  The House Education Committee held a hearing on this bill, but due to the overwhelming response from parents, the bill never found enough support to advance through the committee!

While we were able to defeat this threat, we need to remain vigilant about protecting virtual public schools.  Our opponents will continue to look for ways to target our schools.  We can’t understand why giving a small number of kids access to a public education in an environment better suited to their needs is so threatening to some. But with your help and through education and coordinated advocacy, we can continue to make a difference for Oregon’s virtual school students.

If you’re motivated to protect this choice for your family and others and you’d like to get more active in our effort, please email us at info@oregonvirtualschools.org.  Parents are a powerful political force, and we will not let our voice be silenced.

Thank you for your help and support.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Kambas
President

www.oregonvirtualschools.org

info@oregonvirtualschools.org