Originally Sent: 2/14/2014

From the HSLDA e-lert service…
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Saving Account Bill Poses no Threat to Home Education

Homeschooling in Oklahoma

Thanks for making Capitol Day a success.


TJ Schmidt
Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state. He and his wife homeschool their children.
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

The 29th Annual Oklahoma Home Educators’ Capitol Day on Tuesday was a great success, even with the inclement weather. Nearly 1,000 people made it to the Capitol and participated in the day’s events. With next year being the 30th anniversary we hope you and your family will be able to come to Capitol Day February 10, 2015.

During this year’s Capitol Day we discussed several bills in the Legislative Impact Session and the Town Hall Meeting. We also handed out information on several bills that we are following. However, we need to correct and clarify information on one bill mentioned in that handout.

House Bill 3398 has been introduced by Representative Nelson. He is a friend to homeschoolers and someone who understands the concerns we have regarding the regulation of those providing other means of education to their children. Our position on Nelson’s bill was stated incorrectly in the Capitol Day handout. In fact, HSLDA is not opposed to HB 3398; we are neutral on the bill.

House Bill 3398 would allow the creation of education savings accounts for eligible students. These accounts would pay for tuition and fees at a participating private school or postsecondary school, textbooks and other learning materials, educational therapies or services from a licensed or accredited provider, tutoring services (tutor must be registered with the Oklahoma DOE), services provided by public school (including extracurricular programs), nationally normed achievement testing, and contributions to a Coverdell Savings Account.

As currently written HB 3398 does not grant homeschoolers eligibility for the education savings accounts. There are several reasons why we believe that this prohibition is good for parents providing other means of education to their children.

The main reason is that these education savings accounts are regulated and controlled by the state. This is as it should be when state money is being used. While these types of bills allow for greater educational choice, which HSLDA strongly supports, we believe the use of state educational funds and the supervision that comes with it is too great a burden on freedom for private home education. This is particularly true in Oklahoma where homeschool participation in such a program could lead to regulation for all. However, as it is currently written, House Bill 3398 would not create a danger to homeschooling families as the bill explicitly prohibits the increase of regulation where other means of education is being provided.

House Bill 3398 prohibits the education savings account money from being used for purchasing computer hardware and electronic equipment, educational equipment or instruments, transportation, or any consumable educational supplies, including but not limited to, paper and pens.

Finally, House Bill 3398 allows the state to suspend and terminate any education savings account that makes expenditures beyond the scope permitted by state law. In addition, the parent could be referred for investigation by the Oklahoma attorney general for any violation, including failing to deposit the sales price of any items originally purchased with education saving account funds.

We hope this information clarifies our position on House Bill 3398.

Thank you for your part in fighting for freedom in Oklahoma, and I hope to see you at the next Home Educators’ Capitol Day! Feel free to forward this to your friends who are homeschooling but may not be part of HSLDA, OCHEC, or CHEF of OK.

Sincerely,

/signature/

Thomas J (Tj) Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

P.S. We greatly value you and your support—it is a privilege to serve you! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>


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