Friday, March 11, 2022

School choice lobby turns on homeschoolers in fight over Treat bill

I don't know what's going on with OCPA and their affiliated school choice groups, but something seems to have broken inside them after tangling with homeschoolers who opposed being included in Sen. Greg Treat's Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts school choice bill.

Their frustration has boiled over into public attacks on the homeschool community via social media.

For example, this (first tweet, second tweet) from Brandon Dutcher, a homeschool dad himself, OCPA's senior vice president:

For the non-Twitter folks, the bottom message was first, I replied to it, then Choice Remarks/Dutcher replied to me.

Dave Bond, Vice President for Advocacy at OCPA, had a series of bizarre postings on various Facebook pages. When a homeschool parent raised a question about SB 1647, Bond wrote "stop it. They took y’all out of the bill. Stop.", followed closely with another "stop. Y’all aren’t allowed to dictate to other families. Cut it out.

Heaven forbid people comment as citizens with concern about possible legislation. He later commented with this articulate gem: "Why. Are. You. Not. Satisfied. Even. Though. They. Took. Out. Of. The. Bill. What. You. Wanted. Them. To. Take. Out. Of. The. Bill." Unique way of advocating for your organization's position, I guess?

Robert Ruiz, an OCPA-promoted leader of an OCPA-affilated school choice group, wrote that homeschoolers who oppose SB 1647 are "being co-opted by teachers’ unions and campaigning against the Oklahoma Empowerment Act." Because, you know, homeschoolers -- who have fought to protect their educational freedoms for decades -- couldn't possibly have their own valid, legitimate concerns over the legislation.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I dislike OCPA. I have found most of their work over the years to be great. They put out a lot of good stuff. I respect them as an organization. They've been allies of legislative conservatives in many tough fights. I run most of their columns and press releases here; they are one of my current advertisers.

But, that doesn't mean I agree with them on everything, nor does it mean they're off limits to criticize (I'll cover their new plan to replace the state income tax with a massive expansion and hike in the state sales tax soon). I'm just a bit baffled by this new antagonism toward the Oklahoma homeschooling community. 

It's as if they were totally blindsided by the fact that most homeschoolers don't want government funds intruding into their home education. This is a well-known and well-established fact, and I'm quite surprised that they did not seem to take that into account, or work with the prominent homeschool groups before bringing this latest legislation to the front. A quick perusal of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website will show that homeschoolers across the country oppose government funding for homeschool expenses. It's not just an Oklahoma thing. I'll have a post soon (Lord willing) with more comments from Oklahoma parents, including some who moved here from other states specifically for our home education freedoms, reinforcing that fact.

An elected official texted me this after seeing one of the attacks on social media: "When did the school choice debate turn into an attack on homeschool kids?!? We've lost our minds. And I'm saying that as someone who supports school choice."

OCPA and their affiliated school choice groups should be able to handle it when friendly communities disagree on policy without absolutely losing their minds. 

4 comments:

  1. As a homeschool parent and education researcher to whom their ire was recently directed at a very personal level - I agree with you 100%. Maybe a quick reading of "How To Win Friends And Influence People" would be a worthy endeavor for members of OCPA's ruling elite...

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  2. I had my share of run-ins with those good folks over at OCPA regarding this topic. Yes, it got ugly. It usually does when they can't answer tough and honest questions that citizens have about their bill whether they homeschool or not. The part about homeschoolers being influenced by the teacher's union is laughable. As a leader of a statewide homeschool group, I can geek you we have never had a conversation with anyone from any teacher's union. It's funny, but we actually think for ourselves.

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  3. We have educational choice in Oklahoma: private, public, charter school, virtual charter school, hybrids, learning cooperatives, online, and home education.
    Keep the public money out of private education or there will be no more choices.
    With government money comes government regulations.
    This isn’t about choice, it’s about who pays for my or your choice.
    “I’m from the government, and I am here to help.”
    I yet to see a government funded program be successful.
    Government causes chaos.

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  4. Why have we been worthy of such attention? Because we speak truth, and we do so compellingly. Those who are bullied and censored usually do.
    See this statement from Oklahoma Education Liberty Coalition:
    https://www.constitutionalhomeeducators.org/post/oklahoma-education-liberty-coalition

    ReplyDelete

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