Why Try for a New Homeschool Law?
By: Dorothy Karman

The board members of the Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network believe we should continue working toward a new homeschool law which would repeal notification and testing requirements for Oregon home educators. It is important for Oregon homeschoolers to understand the reasons for changing the homeschool laws.

1999 law

The Oregon homeschool law was changed last in 1999. At that time we lobbied for the freedom of parents to direct their childrens education apart from government interference. We will pursue the same goal this session.

In 1999, we presented testimony based on the Constitution, U. S. Supreme Court rulings, and Oregon statute, which demonstrate that parents have the right to direct their childrens education apart from undue government interference. While we had to accept some compromises to make improvements in the pre-1999 homeschool law, we held to our principles in all testimony we gave and told the legislature we would be back to present the same principles to them again. Well, we are coming back in 2013 as we have every session since 2003.

Parents are responsible

Parents have the right and responsibility to see their children are educated. This is not the state's responsibility. This tenet is based on biblical principles. God has given children to parents. “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). And the responsibility to train them has been given to parents. “Fathers, . . . bring them [children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). “And you shall teach them [the words of God] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:7). The primary purpose of education is to train children to love and serve God. It is impossible for a secular institution to fulfill that responsibility and Scripture never delegated it to the state.

The Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court support the right of parents to direct their children's education. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters the Court ruled:

The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excluded any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations. (Pierce, 268 U.S. 520, 535.)

In addition, the Oregon legislature has affirmed the rights of parents to “guide the secular and religious education of their children” in ORS 419B.090(4)(a). Our society assumes the state is responsible to make sure its citizens are educated, but both the Bible and the Constitution affirm that education is a parents' responsibility and “high duty.”

What about parents who do not act responsibly? In Parham v. J.R, the U.S. Supreme Court maintained:

The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition. (Parham, 442 U.S. 584)

Homeschool parents have assumed the responsibilities that many have abandoned to the state. We hope by pursuing legislation removing notification and testing requirements, we will be educating the legislators to realize that the state has no over-ruling role in education – especially in those families who are willing to take that responsibility. As long as the state is involved in education, it should only be in those families who have chosen to participate in the government school system – not private or home schools.

Private schools are independent

The state of Oregon recognizes the independence of private schools. No private school is required to be registered with the state of Oregon; no list of students is sent to the state; and no parent is required to tell the government schools that his or her child is enrolled in a private school. Private schools are not public schools. Home schools are not public schools either. Just as private schools in Oregon are not regulated, home schools in Oregon should not be regulated. The Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Education should have jurisdiction over public schools, and not private or home schools.

Regulation doesnt work

According to national studies, no significant difference exists between scores on nationally-normed achievement tests in states that highly regulate home education and those states not regulating home education at all.

In addition, there are no regulations strict enough to guarantee that children will learn. The strictest education law imaginable would be to require all students to be instructed by a certified teacher in a course of study approved by the educational establishment. That situation already exists in the public schools, yet even that highly controlled environment cannot guarantee children will learn – or even graduate. There are no regulations stringent enough to guarantee every child will learn – whether in public, private or homeschool.

Home education freedom works

For millennia, parents assumed the responsibility to make sure their children were ready to assume their roles as adults in society – and it worked. Universal, mandatory, government education is a relatively recent experiment which has had mixed success. The recent home education movement (starting in the 1970s) has shown that, even in our technologically advanced society, when parents assume the responsibility to educate their children, they accomplish the goal of education.

Study after study has shown that, as an educational method, home education works well. Homeschool students score, on the average, 20 to 30 percentile points above the public school students. This holds true in states that require annual achievement tests (as Oregon did for 13 years) and in states where homeschoolers are unregulated and only voluntarily test for statistical purposes. In every study, they found homeschoolers are “doing well enough to be left alone” and that “home education freedom works!”

© 2013 Dorothy Karman, OCEANetwork. Dorothy and her husband, Dick, began homeschooling their two children in 1983. Shortly thereafter they became involved in support group leadership and then founded OCEANetwork in 1986. They have been involved in protecting homeschool freedom since then and keep on serving homeschoolers by God’s grace alone long after their children have graduated from homeschool so that their children’s children can be free to be homeschooled.

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