Originally published Winter 2013
We will not know all the legislative challenges of 2014 until bills are filed at the start of the session, but it looks like home educators will be facing at least two issues for sure.
First, as in 2012, the push to enact legislation which would give homeschooled students the right to participate in extracurricular activities sponsored by the local government schools is coming around again. Homeschoolers have been unified in opposition to bills that would have us register with the government schools, but on the issue of “equal access,” we find homeschoolers on both sides of the argument. The proposed legislation is sponsored by lawmakers who are pro-home education.
OCHEC will be voicing concern over an “equal access” law because our state currently has no homeschool laws. We derive our freedom from the Oklahoma constitution. The phrase “other means of education” leaves homeschooling undefined; a law which forces the public school to accept us would define us as a special group which is being discriminated against.
My personal opinion is that because we pay taxes, all parents should be free to choose to participate in any tax-funded educational activity. My concern is the definition of homeschooling and the regulation that will follow in order to determine a student's eligibility to participate in these activities. Who will determine eligibility, the school or the parent? Since the school is funded by the government, it will be the school. In 2012, you made it clear to our legislators that “it is not worth the risk.”
Second, the debate over the implementation of Common Core is just beginning in Oklahoma, and no one is yet sure how it will affect home educators. One concern is over the gathering of information on all students and whether or not home educators will be exempt. The other concern is the alignment of the ACT and SAT to the Common Core requirements, possibly making college entrance more difficult for homeschooled students.
Come to Capitol Day on February 11, 2014, and let your position on these issues be heard. Let's do all we can to stay free!
Keep off the detours
Many years ago, as a young minister, I was told that the president of Wheaton College had a sign on his desk that read “Keep off the detours.” Whether or not that was true, the phrase has stuck with me. It reminds me to stay on the path God has called me to walk and not to jump onto someone else's path. My wife can attest to the times I have taken a “shortcut” or the “scenic route,” only to end up where I did not want to be.
For thirty-one years, OCHEC has stayed true to our vision statement. There have been plenty of opportunities to take detours into political party battles, religious preferences, and other worthwhile ministries. Every request made of OCHEC is run through our vision statement. If it “serves the needs and protects the rights of current and future home educators,” we are listening. Keeping off the detours has allowed us to serve homeschoolers from all Christian denominations and political persuasions. Keeping off the detours has kept from us from being pigeon-holed, isolated, and ineffective.
Let me encourage you to keep off the detours. Stay true to the calling ofGod to disciple your children at home. Stay true to your family's vision and mission statements. As the attacks come and pressures mount, stand firm in your commitment to freedom. Resist the broad road and easier paths, choosing instead to walk with Him on the straight and narrow path.
Hebrews 12: 1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith....”
May you have a blessed and wonderful 2014! In Christ, Jerry
OCHEC will continue to champion parents’ right to direct the education of their children. As a Christian organization, we encourage parents to follow God's direction on whether or not to enroll their kids in government schools and/or their programs. If they choose to homeschool, we will do all we can to encourage, equip, and protect their freedom to do so.