Former Republican Gov.
Kate Brown endorsed the state’s new school choice policy in a state-sponsored press conference on Wednesday.
The policy, which has been in the works for more than a year, is the first in the nation to give school districts the option to choose to opt out of state education funding, which many argue has led to an uneven education landscape in the state.
But she noted that she was also aware of the need for additional investment in public education.
“There are other things we can do to improve our public schools, and that includes creating a merit-based process that will ensure our schools are not underfunded and that they provide high-quality education,” she said.
“I am proud to have been a supporter of school choice, and I look forward to seeing Oregon get a better public education for our kids.”
Brown was asked if she supported a policy that would force districts to give up state funding, but she said that would only have an impact if it was implemented in a way that was not harmful to the students.
“No, I don’t support that,” she responded.
“We’re going to have to get out there and figure out how to make sure that we have a more equitable system that’s working for our students.”
The policy has faced some criticism.
A coalition of parents and educators, led by the Oregon Association of School Administrators, has said that the new system would be better for Oregon schools if districts could choose their own funding models.
Brown said that if districts can decide how much funding they need, it would also be a good thing for the state, which relies heavily on federal funding.
The new policy also faces opposition from some of the state Republican Party’s leaders.
Republican Party Chairman Mark Schoesler told reporters on Wednesday that the policy would hurt Oregon schools.
“It’s going to be a tough sell,” Schoesier said.
The policy, however, is widely supported by Republican lawmakers and is expected to pass the state legislature.
The legislation will be referred to the House education committee next week, where it will face an uphill battle in the House and Senate.