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Oregon bills aim to limit online schools

Supporters of Oregon’s online charter schools packed a legislative hearing April 1 to protest proposed limits on virtual education, reports the Statesman Journal of Salem, Ore. State lawmakers said they did not foresee the explosion in online programs, some operated by out-of-state companies, when they wrote the state’s charter school law in 1999. Oregon currently has 4,000 students enrolled in nine virtual charter schools. They receive state funds based on student enrollment. A half-dozen bills before the state Legislature would modify the way those schools are allowed to operate. The focus currently is on Senate Bill 767, which would limit such schools to grades 7-12; require 50 percent of online charter school students to live in the sponsoring district; and prohibit the state from waiving residency requirements. It is supported by the state teachers union and the state school boards association. But proponents say the schools offer a valuable alternative, especially for highly gifted students and those with disabilities. "Educational choice should be in the hands of parents," said Janel Thomas, a mother of four…

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