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Under Senate Bill 1528 Oklahoma would establish a voluntary program to regulate homeschool programs. Under the bill, any parents who requested the oversight of their homeschool program by the school district would have to demonstrate that their child is receiving adequate educational instruction. SB 1528 would require the parent to follow the same or "comparable" curricular standards in the public school and the same instructional hours/school year as the public schools. If SB 1528 was passed, the Oklahoma State Board of Education would create rules to regulate the oversight of these homeschool programs. Additionally, the bill requires each school district to assign an "education oversight coordinator" to work with homeschool parents to "ensure that the child is receiving an education equivalent to that provided to students in public school."
While some may be lulled into thinking this bill is not extremely harmful because a parent has to voluntarily agree to this regulation, it is just a small step away to make it mandatory for all. In addition, school and other government officials could start to use a parent's unwillingness to be regulated as some sort of deficiency in their homeschool program. SB 1528 would also have a major chilling effect on homeschool freedom because of the requirement to follow the curriculum standards for public schools.
HSLDA vigorously opposes this bill as a restriction on homeschool freedom.
1/18/2012 (Senate) Pre-filed/Introduced
2/06/2012 (Senate) First Reading
5/25/2012 (House) Bill died when the legislature adjourned Sine Die.
Summary: Senate Bill 1528 would provide for the voluntary regulation of “home schooling.” Under the bill the parent would request the local school district to “provide oversight of the child’s education.
Reasons to oppose Senate Bill 1528:
1) If Senate Bill 1528 is passed, it would become the first step towards regulation of homeschooling in Oklahoma. Even though the regulation under Senate Bill 1528 would be voluntary, once passed it would only take a slight change to make it mandatory for all.
2) While the regulation under Senate Bill 1528 would be voluntary, any homeschool program not under the “oversight” of the local district could be seen as having something to hide by local government officials. In other states (such as Indiana and Connecticut) parents often face intense pressure, particularly when removing their children from the public school for the first time, to comply with the “voluntary” regulations.
3) Once a parent requests the oversight, the school district will have a duty to “coordinate with the parent…to ensure that the child is receiving adequate educational instruction.” In actuality the school district will be in control of the educational instruction provided to the children whose parents request the oversight.
4) If parents comply with Senate Bill 1528, they will be required to use a curriculum that is “comparable to the curricular standards for instruction of students in public schools.” While most of the curriculum available to homeschool programs meets or exceeds the standards found in the public schools, many homeschoolers use religious curriculum.
5) Since the school district will determine whether the curriculum is “comparable,” parents could face difficulties with religious curriculum. While the bill does not prohibit “cultural or religious courses of study,” parents might be prohibited from curriculum that is solely religion based. This is especially true since the public school can’t use religious material.
6) Under Senate Bill 1528 the Oklahoma State Board of Education will be required to establish additional rules for the oversight of homeschooling. The bill does not restrict what those rules could include.
7) School districts are required to designate an “education oversight coordinator” who will have the responsibility is to “ensure the child is receiving an education equivalent to that provided to students in public schools.” This oversight will be subjective in nature and could vary dramatically from one coordinator to the next, from one school district to the next.
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