The Challenge

When controversy over online charter schools began growing in the Pacific Northwest, families launched a coalition to raise awareness of these institutions’ role in educational choice.

One of the primary opponents in this fight is the Oregon Education Association (OAE), the most powerful lobbying operation in Oregon. The union made shutting down virtual public schools one of their top priorities. As we began working on a coalition effort to protect school choice, parents and families faced tough opposition.

Interior - Charter School Alliance


  • We leveraged the power of the people in a series of grassroots PR efforts that took our message to the streets and directly to Oregon state legislators.
  • In-person meetings and events, combined with strategic, targeted emails, brought the voice of concerned parents to the forefront of this issue, and to the front pages of local media publications.


Quinn Thomas coordinated statewide grassroots activities, including high-profile marches on the State Capitol and in-home demonstrations between key legislators and charter school families. We brought parents to committee hearings to deliver first-hand testimony about the benefits these charter schools provide to their children. Our team also set up calls for parents to speak directly to legislators and coordinated targeted email campaigns.

Our objective was to stop a bill aimed at shutting down our schools – and we prevailed. To date, this PR campaign has helped keep critical alternative schools open for families who need them. We continue to help families meet with reporters and editorial boards – generating favorable coverage in statewide and local media outlets in key legislative districts.

In 2011, Quinn Thomas received the “Best Earned Media Award” from the National Coalition of Public School Options for our work on this issue.