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

Tell your legislators to oppose virtual school study bill

Dear Virtual Public School Families,

The Oregon State Legislature is at it again.  The 2016 session doesn’t convene until February 1, but virtual public schools are already a target of state policymakers who don’t understand this important education option.

A bill, HB 4091, introduced by State Rep. Susan McLain would create a study to evaluate virtual public schools.  Do we really need another virtual school study?  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.  You can view all of these additional requirements here.

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 to death, and each new attempt is yet another opportunity for opponents of parent choice to limit our access to schools that work for our kids. 

Will you take a moment to email your State Senator and State Representative to tell them that virtual public schools are the most highly accountable schools in Oregon and urge their opposition to yet another study?

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.

Then fill out your address and your message will automatically be sent to your Senator and Representative.

With your help we have defeated previous threats to virtual public education. Let’s do it again and tell our State Legislators that virtual public schools are the most accountable schools in the state and don’t require yet another study.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Kambas
President

Help us tell your virtual school story

Dear Virtual Public School Family:

 

We need your help on an important project.  As many virtual public school families know, changing the perception of virtual classrooms is one of the more difficult parts of what we do. Allowing families to provide their children with the learning environment that works best for them is what drives us in our pursuit of a robust and widely supported virtual public school system. 

Virtual Education News Fall 2015

Dear Virtual Public School Families,

 

Over the last several weeks we have all returned to the “classroom.”  This is an exciting time of year for students and parents.  My name is Jennifer Kambas and 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. 

2015 Legislative wrap up

Dear Virtual School Families,

The State Legislature adjourned the 2015 legislative session on Monday, July 6.  During the session, the legislature considered a bill that would have cut funding for virtual public schools.  With the help of families like yours, who visited, called and emailed your state legislators, the bill never found enough support to advance through committee.

This wasn’t the first time we’ve been threatened by bills that cut funding or limit access to virtual public schools, and it surely won’t be the last.  These bills deny parents the right to choose the public education that best suits their children and threatens the quality of our schools.  When these threats appear we have to respond.

And you did!  Virtual school parents sent over 400 emails to legislators and made dozens more phone calls demanding full funding for virtual public schools.  Your voice was heard.  The House Education Committee scheduled and then cancelled two hearings on this legislation due to the overwhelming response from concerned parents. 

While we were able to defeat this threat, we need to remain vigilant about protecting virtual public schools.  Please stay involved and recruit new families to our effort.  Make sure to “like” our Facebook page and encourage other families to do the same.

Through education and coordinated advocacy, we can continue to make a difference for Oregon’s virtual school students.

Thank you for your help and support.

Sincerely,

Steven Isaacs
President

 

Capitol Day is April 16 - Register today!

Dear Virtual Public School Families,

Virtual Schools Capitol Day is in just two weeks!  Don’t miss out on this fun event.  Register today! You will have the opportunity to meet other virtual school families, teach your children about state government and demonstrate your support for virtual public education.  Join us in Salem for Virtual Public Schools Capitol Day on Thursday, April 16.  You can click here to register now!

Last month, hundreds of parents contacted their state legislators to express their concerns about HB2170, a bill to cut funding for virtual public schools.  Due to the strong voice of virtual public school supporters, the House Education Committee cancelled two hearings on this bill. The cancellation of these hearings proves that the parent voice matters in the debate over virtual public education and school choice.  Well done!

I urge you to continue to make your voice heard in the halls of the Capitol by attending Virtual Public Schools Capitol Day on April 16.  Capitol Day is an opportunity to recognize our legislators who are strong champions of public school options, show our support for virtual public schools and talk to legislators about protecting this important education option. 

I hope you will join us in Salem for Capitol Day on Thursday, April 16.  If you have your yellow scarf from a last year’s Capitol Day, please wear it again this year to show your support.  We’ll of course, have more for everybody.

Here’s the plan:

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM – Registration at the Mission Mill Museum

1313 Mill St., SE, Salem (2 blocks from State Capitol Building – free on-site parking available)

10:00 AM – 10:10 AM – Welcome

10:10 AM – 11:10 AM – Education program for students

11:10 AM – 11:25 AM – Legislative Update

11:25 AM – 12:10 PM – Lunch

12:10 PM – Walk to the Capitol

12:30 PM – Legislator Awards Ceremony on the Capitol Steps

1:00 PM – Drop in on your State Legislators

1:30 PM – Tour of the Capitol Building (Space is limited and based on first come – first served)

2:30 PM – Tour of the Capitol Building (Space is limited and based on first come – first served)

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

Please click here to register for Capitol Day, Thursday, April 16.  If you have any questions, please email us at info@oregonvirtualschools.org.

See you in Salem on April 16.

Sincerely,

Steven Isaacs
President

 

 

You did it! Funding cut hearing cancelled!

Dear Virtual Public School Supporters,

You helped make it happen! Due to the strong voice of virtual public school parents and students, the House Education Committee has cancelled the hearing on HB2170, the virtual school funding cut bill. 

The committee planned to consider the bill during a hearing tomorrow, Friday, March 6.  Legislators received over 400 emails and numerous calls from parents who expressed their concerns about the impact a funding cut would have on their virtual public school.  The cancellation of this hearing proves that your voice matters in the debate over virtual public education and school choice.  Well done!

We will keep you informed of future developments in Salem on the issue of virtual education.  In the meantime, you can email us with any questions.  And don’t forget to sign up for Capitol Day on April 16th (click on the link and scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the registration form).

Thank you for all you do to advocate on behalf of Oregon’s virtual public school students.

Sincerely,

Steven Isaacs
President

 

 

Your help is needed to fight virtual school funding cuts

Dear Virtual Public School Families, 

Last week I told you about HB2170, a bill that would cut funding for virtual public schools. Well, we’ve gone from worried to very concerned.  We just learned that HB2170 is moving through the legislative process and we need your help!  The House Education Committee will hold a hearing on HB2170 on Wednesday, February 25th.

Many special interests have tried to limit access to options like virtual public schools but they have failed in their attempts.  Now they have their sights set on funding for our schools, which already receive less money than traditional schools.

Your help is urgently needed!  Here are two things you can do:

    •    Send an email to your legislators asking them to oppose cuts to virtual public school funding.  This is easy to do: simply click here and fill out this form.  Don’t forget to add a personal message about why virtual schools are critical for your child’s education.  The form provides a blank message box for you to add your personal message. 

    •    Come to Salem on February 25th and speak up on behalf of your virtual public school.  If you can testify, please email us and we’ll get in touch with you.  The hearing will be in held in Hearing Room D of the State Capitol at 1:00PM on Wednesday, February 25th. Please see the details below 

House Education Committee Hearing on HB2170
Wednesday, February 25th
1:00PM
Hearing Room D
Oregon State Capitol Building
900 Court Street, NE
Salem 97301 

Virtual public schools, which are organized under Oregon’s charter law, already receive less funding than traditional public schools.  But, we still need adequate resources to maintain our effective, state-certified teaching staff, competent administrators, world-class curriculum that complies with core standards, and a sophisticated technology platform capable of delivering instruction.  Rather than focusing on the quality of the education or the importance of education choices that fit the needs of our kids, legislators are looking to cut funding.  That’s not right. 

Our students deserve the same commitment to a quality education that others receive in traditional brick and mortar public schools.  But, we desperately need your voice engaged in this process if we’re going to be successful in stopping any funding cuts. 

Thank you for all you do on behalf of Oregon’s virtual public school families.

Sincerely, 

Steven Isaacs
President

 

Help us tell us your story

Dear Virtual Public School Family:

We need your help on a quick project.  As many virtual public school families know, changing the perception of virtual classrooms is one of the more difficult parts of what we do every day. 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 lawmakers and members of the media who do not know about the existence and benefits of online learning for many families across the state.