REDMOND, OR -- A group of state lawmakers is touring Oregon, visiting school districts to learn what’s good about the public education system and what’s not working. The Joint Committee on Student Success will stop in Redmond on Thursday for a public forum at Ridgeview High School.
But, before that evening event, they’ll tour Redmond Proficiency Academy. "They’re going to come spend a couple of hours at RPA and learn more about charter schools and the impact public charter schools can have on the public school system. And, also take a look at the success we’ve had," says RPA Director Dr. Jon Bullock, "We’re in our tenth year, and we’re one of the largest and most successful charter schools in Oregon. And, we’re excited to have the Legislature to come take a look at what we’re doing." Bullock hopes they’ll use that information to eventually make changes to state education policy, "They’re trying to get a sense, at the ground level, of what’s working and what’s not working in schools. What are the struggles that schools have?"
The bipartisan joint committee was formed during the last Legislative session, and includes Bend Republican State Senator Tim Knopp. "A similar group was formed around the transportation bill," Bullock tells KBND News, "And, the idea was ‘let’s get Senators and Representatives to tour around the state and talk to people in their hometowns about what’s going on.’ I think it’s important to hear from people locally about what works and what doesn’t work."
According to Dr. Bullock, there is a $2 billion gap between current education funding and what experts say is needed to achieve the state’s goals. He believes policy-makers could learn from charter schools like RPA, which he says does more for students with less funding than traditional public schools. "It’s incumbent upon educators and policy-makers to look at what are creative ways that we can do what we need to do without the funding that’s required to get there, and look at innovative ways that we educate students, and look at places where there’s a struggle."
Following the RPA tour, the committee will hear from Central Oregon families during a forum. That event is from 7 to 9 p.m. at Ridgeview High School in southwest Redmond, and is open to the public.