Across the States
Homeschoolers Defeat Two Bad Bills
This year homeschoolers in Oklahoma saw two very bad bills introduced. These bills would have dramatically changed the freedom parents have to teach their children at home. Even in a state like Oklahoma, with arguably the best protection for homeschool freedom in the country, all it takes to begin compromising that freedom is one or two legislators willing to introduce negative legislation.
This year the attack on home education freedom was significant. Under § 4, Article 13, of the Oklahoma State Constitution, home education is protected under the right of parents to provide “other means of education.” However, House Bill 3099 would have changed the corresponding Oklahoma statute to require parents to provide “other appropriate means of education.” The bill went on to define what “appropriate means of education” was supposed to look like and opened the door for local school officials to exercise subjective evaluation of the instruction being provided.
In Home School Legal Defense Association’s opinion, H.B. 3099 was an attempt to do an end run around the state’s constitutional protection of “other means of education,” without amending the constitution.
The second bill, while not as bad as H.B. 3099, would have started slowly eroding the state’s strong homeschool and parental freedom. Senate Bill 1403 would have required homeschooling parents to notify their local school district within 10 days of beginning their home education program.
Thankfully, the Sooner State has a spectacular Homeschool Capitol Day put on by Oklahoma Christian Home Educators’ Consociation (OCHEC). Over 1,500 people attended this year’s capitol day, and hundreds more made phone calls against the two bills. Within days, leadership in the Oklahoma Legislature declared these bills dead.
— by Thomas J. Schmidt