|Oregon 2011 Legislative Recap
By: Rodger Williams, OCEANetwork Legislative Coordinator
The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will (Proverbs 21:1).
OCEANetwork monitors the Oregon state legislature for bills directly impacting home education freedom and the rights of parents. Here is status update on the bills we monitored and testified on this year.
Bills we supported
SB 711 and HB 3027 were identical Senate and House copies of the Home Education Freedom Bill, requested by OCEANetwork and the Oregon Home Education Network. The bills eliminate notification and examination requirements for homeschooled students.
Testing harms students because parents are forced to concentrate on passing the test rather than focusing on what will help the student long-term. Tests change over time to reflect the social engineering purposes of the public schools. But more importantly, the current law allows the state to take children out of their family-based education environment and put them into institutional schools. This is in violation of our parental responsibility, assigned by God, to direct the upbringing and education of our children. Neither bill had a hearing this session. But we will keep coming back.
HB 2183 makes it a violation to knowingly make a false report of child abuse. We supported this bill to provide protection for families. Those opposed were concerned that it would have a chilling effect on legitimate reporting of child abuse. Unfortunately, the amended bill only applies to false reports within the context of a divorce and no longer protects families from other kinds of false reports. This is an improvement, but not what we hoped for. We anticipate this bill will pass as amended.
SB 246 was designed to solve the problem of parents enrolling their children in kindergarten but then failing to bring their children regularly. OCEANetwork supported the bill's concept because the irregular attendance problem has been a driving force to lower the compulsory attendance age from seven to five. The bill died in the House Rules Committee.
SB 107 expands the uses of the state-wide child immunization database to include the Department of Human Services. OCEANetwork requested that the DHS be denied immunization information except when the child is in their foster care program. That amendment was adopted and family protections regarding the immunization database are stronger than they were before this piece of legislation.
The bill has been signed into law by the Governor.
Bills OCEANetwork opposed
HB 2858 “Establishes a relief nursery pilot program in Lane County. Requires Department of Human Services to refer children and parents to program following conclusion of child abuse investigation when abuse is not or cannot be substantiated” (emphasis added). This bill wasn’t aimed at parents who were convicted of child abuse; it was aimed at those who had been accused and not found guilty! After emails and phone calls from homeschoolers, the bill stalled. Even though the sponsor tried many times to resurrect it, the bill died in committee. Thank you for your good work on this.
HB 2459 expands the “mandatory child abuse reporter” category to include volunteers in any child-related activity. Homeschoolers called the committee and the resulting opposition caused the bill to die in committee.
A Bill OCEANetwork Is Still Working On
The bill allows districts to withdraw from an ESD and get the money themselves. It applies to Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington, Multnomah, Marion, Polk, Baker and Yamhill Counties only. Effective date is July 1, 2012. This bill was in response to the gross misconduct of a few ESDs. School districts complained, but they were ignored. Finally it all blew up.
The problem for homeschoolers is that there is no provision for our notifications and test results. It’s not clear where we would report if there is no ESD. It’s possible we may have to report to individual school districts – a process we do not want because it could create a hodgepodge of process requirements, district by district.
SB 250 was part of a last minute package backroom deal with the Governor. On June 16, the bill suddenly came to life. The bill was rushed through the Senate and House -- with no House hearings -- and ready for the Governor's signature by June 24.We plan to take up our issues with the Interim Education Committees in preparation for submitting a corrective bill in the 2012 Legislative Session. Please pray for wisdom as we do this.
I repeatedly saw God's mercy, guidance and protection for home educating families while I walked the halls of the Legislature this session. I feel privileged to be there on behalf of Oregon home educators.
Also, I appreciate our close legislative allies – the Oregon Home Education Network – and I am grateful for the legal support provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Thank you to all who prayed, called and wrote in defense of families and home education this 2011 Legislative session. God used you there in Salem.
Rodger Williams, OCEANetwork Legislative Coordinator
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