These days, parents who are considering homeschooling are faced with hundreds of options in terms of logistics, curriculum, methods, etc. Often this can lead to some confusion. One of those issues particularly significant in recent years is whether parents should bring their children home for a private / independent homeschooling experience or enroll them in an at-home charter school.
For both options, the parents become more involved in their child’s education, spend more time with them, and remove them from the typical public school classroom experience. But this is where the similarities end.
Issues to Consider About Charter Schools in Oregon
Charter schools and private / independent homeschooling are very different. While OCEANetwork firmly believes in (and fights for) every parent’s right to choose an educational model as they see fit, there are significant differences between the two models worth considering.
- Charter schools in Oregon are defined by the state as public schools and are therefore not under homeschool laws. This is essential to understand in terms of testing, notification requirements, etc. OCEANetwork works year-round to protect and expand homeschool freedoms in Oregon and help parents clearly understand what options and requirements they have.
- Charter schools often come with excessive busy work, testing, time online, and hoops to jump through. Parents who desire to use religious materials for core subjects as a part of their charter school education are not able to use their charter school funds for those materials. This is because the Oregon Constitution requires that government-funded education must be secular, and while some charter programs allow parents to use public funds for their Christian materials, it is actually illegal to do so. At best, parents must tack those faith-based resources on themselves. While experiences vary based on the charter school and the family, many who start out enjoying their charter school become more frustrated over time with these kinds of issues and end up switching to independent homeschooling.
- Independent homeschooling is the best model for giving parents the most control over their child’s education. Of the four kinds of education available in Oregon, homeschooling parents have the most control and freedom. While requirements vary depending on the charter school, they all require things of the families in exchange for the money given. Government funds open the door to government control.
- The reasons often cited for choosing to use the charter school model can be solved in other ways. There are so many resources and options available to homeschoolers, including online private homeschool resources, co-ops, support groups, free and frugal curriculum choices, etc. In addition, the advantages of private homeschooling are clear, including statistics that demonstrate better academic results.
- The Lord can be trusted to provide all we need to train up and educate our children well. We do not need outside money in order to educate our children with excellence for all their academic, spiritual, social, and experiential needs. The discipleship and education of our children, as well as our relationship with them, is what matters most. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
OCEANetwork cares deeply about families in Oregon and has been working to protect and expand homeschool freedoms since 1986. Our Freedom Watch Team monitors the Oregon capitol year-round for bad bills that are frequently introduced and that can infringe upon parental and homeschooling freedoms. In all these years, we continue to see evidence that independent homeschooling remains the most effective model for home education and family discipleship.
The Bottom Line
We are all parents of good will who are trying to do the best by our children. There is no doubt about that. Regardless of our evaluation of the charter school system, we also strongly support every parent’s right to choose the educational model they prefer.
Not everyone will agree with our assessment of charter schools, but we can and must agree on preserving educational options for families. We must hold the line when it comes to the definitions and legal differences between private homeschooling and charter schools. To blur the lines on these distinctions invites increasing government oversight of the private homeschooling community. Restricting private homeschool freedoms would limit educational options for families and would be a disservice to us all.
We must protect it for all, or we will all lose it.
Protecting Private Homeschooling Law
OCEANetwork can’t do this without you. The freedom to homeschool with as little government intrusion as possible depends on freedom-loving homeschoolers becoming involved.
Pray for OCEANetwork. Put OCEANetwork on your regular prayer list. Pray for wisdom, for strength, for help, and for favor with the legislature. OCEANetwork has been equipping homeschool families and protecting home education freedoms since 1986. With your help, we can continue to guard your freedom to homeschool. If you like, you can join the OCEANetwork prayer team for bi-weekly emails with prayer requests.
Join OCEANetwork’s email list to be informed of important legislative action that needs your help. Legislators want to hear from families in their districts.
Act when you are notified that the Legislature needs to hear from homeschoolers.
Come to Apple Pie Day, which happens every other year during long legislative sessions, to show your support for traditional homeschooling.
Support OCEANetwork with your financial contributions. While OCEANetwork is an all-volunteer organization, there are still many expenses – website and email services, publications, insurance, and much more in order to keep the corporation viable and you informed. Consider becoming an OCEANetwork Supporting Family by making a donation today.
We understand this topic can bring a fair amount of debate. If you have questions about independent homeschooling or homeschool laws in Oregon, please contact us here so that we can address your questions and concerns.