Oregon panel votes to add restrictions to online schools

A bill to increase restrictions on online public schools was approved by a key committee in the Oregon Legislature on Feb. 3, despite pleas from parents for exceptions to the proposal, reports the Statesman Journal. House Bill 3660 now goes to the full House for a vote, with a subsequent referral to Ways and Means. The bill makes some changes to the state’s virtual charter school laws, while extending an enrollment freeze enacted by the 2009 Legislature. It calls for more study of virtual schooling, with further legislation in the 2011 session. Backers of the schools say parents should have the right to choose the educational program that’s right for their children. They say they fear the real goal of legislation is to shut the schools down. Legislators say they want to make the schools—many of which are operated in part by for-profit corporations—more accountable. The proposal requires virtual charter schools in Oregon to use the same accounting systems as other public schools. It requires virtual-school teachers and administrators to hold appropriate Oregon licenses. And it requires teachers and students to meet twice a week, either in person or through the use of conference calls or other technology…

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