OPINION: Oregon needs an elected state school chief and a panel to empower parents
We must keep our kids in the classroom full time and in person. Period. The past two years of on again, off again school closures and virtual learning have come with an enormous price tag for our students. It's time to put those days behind us.
In the 2021 legislative session, I sponsored a bill that would have required in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year. I intend to support similar legislation this year. We can safely keep our schools open. We just have to have the leadership to get it done.
In addition to providing our students with a guarantee of in-person instruction, we need to expand access to school choice and alternative forms of education. For some students, the traditional classroom suits them just fine. For others, having access to a charter school or school of their choice is critical to their success in the classroom.
The pandemic and the state's failed response has illustrated more than ever why parents and students must be empowered to choose the education environment that best fits their unique needs. It's time to confront those standing in the way of school choice and do what is best for our kids.
We also must move urgently to extend the school year. Allowing for additional instructional weeks this summer would go a long way toward helping put our students back on the right track. Without additional instruction, for many of our students, these last two years could become lost years when it comes to their learning. Our kids can only learn one day at a time, but it certainly helps if they have more days.
Finally, we need to include the voices of parents in determining the future of our schools. I am advocating for legislation in the 2022 legislative session that would help accomplish just that.
I drafted a bill that would restore the Superintendent of Public Instruction as a statewide elected position, removing the authority for setting education policy from the governor's office and unelected bureaucrats and putting it in the hands of an independently elected official that would have to answer directly to the people of Oregon.
This bill also would establish the Parent Advisory Committee, made up of parents of school-age children from all across our state, who would be tasked with advising the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the state Board of Education on education policy.
There's no question these past two years have been hard on our kids. The state left them behind. Now it's time to turn the page. We can do that by keeping our classrooms open, giving them a say in where and how they attend school, extending the school year to make up for lost time, and finally restoring the voices of students and parents in our classrooms.
Christine Drazan stepped down last month as a state representative representing Canby, Estacada and unincorporated Oregon City areas. She is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.
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