By: Dorothy Karman

Charter schools targeting homeschools are popping up everywhere. They sound great. It is easy to think, "I pay my taxes for schools. My family should get some benefit from those taxes."

We can't say it often enough: With government funding comes loss of freedom. The loss may not seem like much now, but it will creep in. Look at the red tape the colleges and universities who take federal funding have to put up with.

One of the proponents for a charter school states "The Oregon program is choosing not to be federally funded," as if that will protect us from government intrusion. Homeschooling is not controlled on a federal level but rather on a state level. That's why taking state money for homeschooling will lead to state control.

The charter schools face corporate accountability. The composite test scores of the students must remain high for the charter school to continue. This is as it should be. But it is the additional threats to ALL home educators freedoms that arise from these programs that cause OCEANetwork to discourage families from participating.

Last legislative session, as we worked for home education freedom in Oregon, one of the major lobbying points against us was the fact that so many homeschool students are participating in government funded programs. Former state representative Cheryl Walker wrote in opposition to our home education freedom bill:

"I suggest that if they really want freedom from state control they stop accepting State Department of Education money. Taxpayers who are paying for home-schooling should have accountability from the students." She went on to say, "If they have the benefits, why should they be exempt from accountability."

Representative Walker did not make a distinction between home educators participating in charter schools and independent home- schoolers. In essence, she said if some homeschoolers are participating in taxpayer funded programs, all homeschoolers should be accountable. Therein lies the key to the threat to our home education freedoms.

A proponent for the charter schools said, "I will be one of the first to leave the [program] if it becomes too invasive for my tastes!" Long before then the damage to Oregon home education freedoms will be done. Think twice before you give away the precious freedoms we have in Oregon.

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