The Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network tracks bills each Legislative session which would affect Oregon homeschoolers. There were two such bills this year:
- A badly-written bill which likely would have been interpreted to require homeschoolers who teach their students in preparation for college advanced placement tests to have graduate credits in the topic area of the test.
- OCEANetwork’s bill to prohibit public schools from blocking local homeschool and private school students age 16 and 17 from taking the GED test.
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Advanced Placement Test Bill
The Advanced Placement Test bill was House Bill 2868. Our concerns were that:
- the teacher education requirements would apply to homeschoolers, and that
- the bill’s focus on the preparation process for Advanced Placement tests is in violation of the College Board’s intent that the focus be on test results rather than how the student prepared for the test.
After Oregon homeschoolers alerted the House Education Committee to their concerns with the bill, one of the Committee Members replied that the bill wording of “Students who otherwise are taught by a parent, legal guardian or private teacher” excluded homeschoolers.
I wrote back to the Committee on behalf of OCEANetwork:
It would be better if the bill itself clearly answered the question, “What about homeschoolers?” So OCEANetwork respectfully requests that the content about “taught by a parent, legal guardian or private teacher provided in ORS 339.030” be moved from the section on who the bill applies to (subsection 3 a) to the section on who the bill does not apply to (subsection 3 b).
But the bill itself is not clear about that. The indirect grammatical construction (“who otherwise are taught”) is not particularly helpful in revealing legislative intent. In particular I am concerned that when the Oregon Administrative Rules are drawn up by the Oregon Department of Education, the ODE might interpret the bill the same way I did without additional input on the legislative intent.
The bill did not move forward, mainly due to ESD opposition to the disruption of their existing AP preparation programs, but also because of homeschool concerns.
It is important to note that OCEANetwork’s influence is directly due to the active lobbying of our constituents — Oregon homeschoolers.
OCEANetwork’s GED Equity Bill
The GED bill was Senate Bill 855. It was in response to the fact that some Oregon homeschool students and private school students who are 16 or 17 years of age are being denied the opportunity to earn a GED if the local school district does not give them permission to take the test. That causes problems when the college they want to enroll in requires a GED for under-18 applicants. Public school students, meanwhile, have a clear path to a GED.
This unfair treatment of homeschool and private school students is caused by Oregon Department of Education (ODE) policy, which requires local school district permission for homeschool and private school students to take the GED test even though some districts refuse to issue any such releases.
To be fair to the ODE, they inherited this policy from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development. But after repeated requests from OCEANetwork, the ODE has not changed the policy.
The public policy question is this: Should government agencies be allowed to block homeschool and private school students, who are legally exempt from compulsory attendance, from earning their GED? The answer has to be No, especially when public school students can get their GED unhindered.
SB 855 was stalled in the Senate Rules Committee and is dead.
OCEANetwork plans to bring this bill back for consideration by the 2022 Legislature.
Thank you to all of the Oregon homeschoolers who participated this session by calling or writing Committee members regarding these two bills. You are a clear political force, and legislators respect that.
OCEANetwork Freedom Watch Team
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