On a mid-spring day in the middle of his first legislative session, Rep. Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville) stood in front of a microphone on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives to speak out about his favorite subject: Online charter schools—one in particular.
“Colleagues, I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about a success story called Oregon Connections Academy, or ORCA,” Wingard began. He spent the next few minutes extolling the virtues of the Scio-based online school, charting its growth from just a couple hundred students in 2005 to more than 2,600 four years later.
In a tone reminiscent of a radio pitchman, Wingard told stories about some of the students, and warned against the legislature placing restrictions on the school. “Let’s keep that option open to families, and help ORCA celebrate the great things about online learning,” he concluded. “Not just today, but for many years to come.”
But here’s one thing that Wingard didn’t mention that day, while he was testifying to the greatness of Oregon Connections Academy: He’s on the payroll of the online school’s for-profit parent corporation, Connections Academy.