|Government Funded Homeschooling
By: Dorothy Karman
OCEANetwork remains dedicated to preserving the right of parents to pursue independent private homeschooling, to direct their children's education apart from government interference. To that end, we have been running a series of articles on what we believe is a grave threat to our independence as homeschool parents: government funded homeschool programs.
Here are some short articles we ran in OCEANetwork Currents in 2002 that point out the dangers of government funded homescooling.
Home educators lose freedom
November 2001 Currents
As OCEANetwork Board members met with other state leaders (and those from our neighboring provinces to the north), the topic of ways public schools are wooing home educators took much of our time. As more families become involved in public school/homeschool hybrid programs, homeschool freedoms are being lost in this nation and others. In a recent essay, Chris Klicka from Home School Legal Defense Association documents several cases of lost home education freedoms as families become involved in government "freebies." Alberta is just one of the places home education has recently lost freedom.
"In Alberta, Canada home schoolers enjoyed more liberty than almost all of the other provinces. Then several years ago, legislation was passed giving home schoolers $500 per child in government funds. The very next year, one of the most regulatory legislative bills was passed, implementing restrictions on home schoolers. When asked why, the Minister of Education stated that if they were giving money to home schoolers they had to know who they are and have certain standards. These regulations apply to all home schoolers-not only those who receive the government funding."
This is one example of the adage "Government money comes with government strings." Oregon home educators need to work together to protect home education freedoms. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
Questions about government homeschool programs
December 2001 Currents
The news article in last month's Currents about increased homeschool regulation coming on the heels of public school/homeschool programs in Alberta raised a number of red flags and questions for Oregon home educators. It seems public school/homeschool hybrid programs are proliferating in Oregon. We will try to answer some of your questions about such programs in the next few issues of Currents.
Q: Why does increased government regulation seem inevitable as more home educators participate in public school/ homeschool hybrid programs?
A: Government money is always accompanied by government control. Accountability for the proper use of government funds is appropriate. We all want our tax dollars to be spent wisely. The danger comes when the government attempts to control all home educators - even the independent ones - once enough home educators participate in the government programs. That's what happened in Alberta. One year the government said, "We want to help you." The next year they said, "Since home educators are costing the government so much money, they need to be more closely regulated." The Alberta legislature lumped all home educators together, whether or not they were part of government homeschool programs, and increased regulation on all.
As more and more home educators participate in programs or classes paid for by government funds, it becomes much more difficult for us to lobby for homeschool freedom in Salem. Two of our most practical lobbying points for home education freedom were: 1) home educators save the state $100 million (not anymore since the schools and ESDs have found ways to infuse money into their budgets through homeschool programs) and 2) home educators are not asking for anything but freedom. (Now we are asking for algebra, band, art, etc.)
We need to very carefully think through the ramifications before receiving services from government schools. Are we willing to give up our freedoms in exchange?
A prudent man sees evil and hides himself. (Proverbs 27:12a)
February 2002 Currents
This column continues to answer a series of questions about public school/home-school programs.
Q. I'm aware of some of the dangers of participating in public school programs. Why can't we take advantage of the programs until the conditions become intolerable for our family?
A. OCEANetwork trusts each family to make the decisions for their own family. If God trusts you to be directing your family, we can do no less. Our job is one of being the watchman crying the warning. Since we are in a position to see some of the dangers coming, we also can do no less than spread the warning.
Having said that, we must point out, however, that your decision to participate in government homeschool programs impacts more than your individual family. The legislature makes laws for classes of people, not individual cases. As more families in the class of "homeschooler" participate in government funded "homeschool" programs, the legislature will want more accountability. If the increased accountability applies to just those families receiving government assistance to homeschool, fine. Our concern is that they may, as other legislatures have, try to impose increased regulation on the entire class of home educators.
OCEANetwork is strongly committed to protecting the freedom of Oregon homeschool families to direct their own children's education as they see fit. We won't be able to defend the independence of those home educators participating in government programs. Then, definitely at that time, families will have to decide whether or not setting up little public schools in their homes is worth the price. And OCEANetwork will continue to warn families "Buyer Beware."
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