Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are one of the many proposals to make it financially feasible for a wider range of families to educate their children outside the confines of the standard K-12 public school system. Our state legislature is having an informational hearing this week on SB 437, a proposal to bring ESAs to Oregon. Actually enacting this seems like a huge longshot, given our current union-controlled legislature-- unions oppose this even more strongly than charter schools, and they have already given us some of the weakest charter school laws in the nation. But the ESA advocates do want to raise awareness of the issue, so I have gone ahead and submitted some testimony on the topic. Here's what I wrote:
Dear Chairman Roblan and members of the Senate Education Committee:
My name is Erik Seligman, and I am both a resident of Hillsboro and a member of the Hillsboro School Board. I am writing to support SB 437 and the -1 Amendment.
When knocking on local doors while campaigning for my board position, I remember meeting a mother in tears due to the fact that her 1st-grade son still could not read. Her local school had made several unsuccessful attempts to help, and she realized that due to his unique needs, he needed a different type of school environment. But lacking the resources to pay for private school, or the luck to win the lottery drawing for our district’s one charter school, she felt the situation was hopeless. If Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) had been available, she may have been able to make alternative educational arrangements.
There are many parents in this situation across Oregon, who need another choice for their child’s education, but cannot afford it under our current system. Every child in Oregon is a unique individual with their own needs, and our results continue to show that many fall through the cracks rather than receiving the education they deserve.
Thus, as a concerned parent and neighbor, and a board member in Oregon’s 4th largest school district, I strongly support the idea of ESAs. Please learn more about the potential benefits of SB 437, and support efforts to bring this opportunity to Oregon’s children.
The hearing is on Tues, so there is still time for you to submit written testimony. See this site for some hints on submitting such testimony, if you would consider doing so as well. We won't get ESAs this year, but we might be able to make more people aware of this future opportunity to improve K-12 education in Oregon.