Oregon school choice group gathering signatures for November ballot measures

By Jane Vaughan (Jefferson Public Radio)
May 9, 2024 5:16 p.m.

A citizens’ group called Let Them Learn Oregon is trying to get two measures on the statewide ballot in November, with the goal of creating more school choice.

The group’s open enrollment measure would allow students to attend any public school that has available space, not just the school in a district where students live.


The school choice measure would allow students to opt out of the public school system and still receive some state funding that could be used for things like tutoring, textbooks or tuition. That money would be deposited in an Education Savings Account, administered by a nonprofit organization chosen by the parent.

The group says these measures would help students access the best learning environment for them.

“There’s a lot of need out there in Oregon for kids because our school system is broken, and it doesn’t serve all the kids well,” said Donna Kreitzberg, the executive director of Let Them Learn Oregon. “There’s some kids where they’re excelling in the school that they’re at. But there are other kids who are in an environment, and they can’t get anywhere else. Their parents don’t have enough money, or their learning situation is [such that] they need more help, or they need to go at their own speed.”


The group’s open enrollment measure is similar to a law Oregon had in effect until 2019, which allowed students to transfer between districts.

According to an analysis by the news organization Education Week, as of March 2024, 29 states had at least one private school choice program, including Education Savings Accounts and school vouchers.

Kreitzberg said the group, which has about 1,300 volunteers, is apolitical and nonpartisan, although its volunteers will be gathering signatures at an upcoming March for Life event.

“Republicans do tend to be more aware of the idea of school choice and more favorable toward it, just in helping us. But we’ll reach out and talk with anybody that wants to know about the idea of making sure that all kids can access the learning environment that helps them. So we don’t affiliate with anybody,” she said.

Kreitzberg said these measures would provide freedom for parents regarding their kids’ education.

“Parents will really be able to say, ‘Huh, let’s see, I’ve got four kids, and one of them is best served in my neighborhood public school, but one of my children would be better homeschooled, or this child needs to be in a charter school where they can go at their own pace.’ So parents who know the needs of their children can figure out which learning environment,” she said.

Let Them Learn Oregon needs another 130,000 signatures to get its measures on the ballot. The deadline to submit the signatures is July 5.

If the measures are approved by voters, they would take effect in the 2025-2026 school year.