Speak up to Protect Homeschooling in Oklahoma

I try to rarely discuss politics here, but with this one, I must. I believe that God gave parents the right and responsibility of raising their children and that we must resist any attempt to make us abdicate that responsibility. Two new bills, introduced by Oklahoma State Senator Jim Wilson (D-Talequah), threaten the rights of parents to homeschool without intrusion.

According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association:

Senate Bill 393 would remove the current protection under Oklahoma law that homeschool students are exempt from being taken into temporary custody by an attendance officer, peace officer, etc. when they are in public during normal school hours. Under Oklahoma law, homeschool students who are in public during normal school hours and are involved in a legal activity (i.e. going to a local community college, music lessons, or simply running errands for their parents) simply would indicate that they are homeschooled and they should be free from being detained or taken into temporary custody.

The second bill, Senate Bill 394, would drastically change the homeschool law in Oklahoma. Senator Wilson’s bill would require parents teaching their children at home to notify their local school officials each year they were homeschooling and then submit a report of each student’s academic progress at the end of each semester throughout the school year.

You can read the text of SB 393 and 394 online.

I encourage each of you in Oklahoma to follow the link to the HSLDA and write the author (Wilson), the Chairman (John Ford, R-Bartlesville) and Vice Chairman (Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa) of the Senate Education Committee, and your senator, expressing your opposition to these bills. These three, along with my Senator (Jonathon Nichols, R-Norman), all received some variation of the following e-mail yesterday.

We are writing to express our opposition to Senate Bills 393 and 394. We encourage you to uphold Oklahoma’s policy of protecting the rights of families with regard to the education of their children and vote against these bills.

We have read both bills and, as parents who plan to educate our children at home, we believe that these bills are an encroachment on our family’s rights to determine the educational setting and curriculum most suitable for our children.

As for SB 393, we object to the idea of any peace or attendance officer detaining our children while they are engaged in any lawful activity under our instruction.

As for SB 394, we object to the requirement to make any report about our children’s attendance or educational progress to any governmental institution if and when we may have already determined said institution to be unsuitable to their educational needs. In short, if we have not placed our children under the instruction of the local public school system, the school system has no right to such information.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jared Byrns

And while I’m at it, let me take the opportunity to reassure those of you who send your kids to—or work in—public schools. I’m not criticizing you or what you do. I went to public schools from kindergarten to college, and have worked in public schools as well. I simply believe that parents have the right to educate their kids as they see fit, with no unnecessary interference.

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