Oregon House Passes Bill Expanding Online Charter Schools

A bill that would give way to mounting online charter school enrollment in Oregon caused a clash so significant that it halted action on a large package of education bills Monday.

Bill 2301 would allow up to 3 percent of the students in any local district to enroll in online charters. The House initially rejected the bill with a 30-30 vote but came back the next day to pass it, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Brian Clem is one of three Democrats who switched his vote. He tells Oregon Public Broadcasting that by changing his mind about voting for the charter bill, he was:

"Acknowledging that parents like them. They want these things to exist. Their kids like them."

The Oregon Education Association and many public school districts strongly opposed the bill, according to Many opponents worry charters would receive tax dollars at the expense of public schools.

Rep. Michael Dembrow, a Portland Democrat and a community college professor, said he believes the bill could allow private companies to make vast profits from public education dollars, according to

GOP Rep. Matt Wingard, co-chairman of the House Education Committee and consultant for the state's largest online school, Oregon Connections Academy, cited examples of how online schools allow kids with extenuating circumstances to thrive. reports Wingard says the academy:

"Provides an outstanding education for some of Oregon's most vulnerable children."