Saturday, February 11, 2023

White: in voucher push, Stitt wants OK to be like states that restrict homeschooling

Here's an excellent post on the topic of school choice vouchers and homeschooling, from Jenni White with Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment (formerly known as Restore Oklahoma Public Education):

Governor Stitt Says He Wants Oklahoma To Be More Like The Voucher States Of Iowa, Virginia, Florida and New Hampshire Where Homeschooling Is Significantly More Restricted Than Oklahoma

To hear the Voucher cabal talking, you find out a couple things quickly; there is simply no downside to private school vouchers and long-time homeschoolers or private schoolers don’t seem to be part of the discussion.


Probably because, like most things that vastly enlarge the imprint of government, the effects of any government program are far downstream from the initial creation – it’s the frog in the boiling pot syndrome if you will. No one sees a giant hook coming from backstage to pull all the homeschoolers and privately schooled kids into the pit of homogeneity and government regulation, yet it’s still there. It’s moving so slowly the audience doesn’t really notice it until – suddenly – the kids are gone.

Just recently I became aquainted with a woman who is a former high school counselor who does high school/college/career counseling for the homeschooling community, in addition to running an online learning academy and homeschooling her own kids.

Today, she sent me the following:

I work with homeschoolers from across our nation in an advisory role.  All too often here lately, I am talking with families in other states that have recently passed vouchers or other forms of monies for ‘school choice.’  I hear the same story from most of them.  The bills passed with minimal regulation, affording families choices in curricula and services, but after a year or two, those regulations increase and tighten, constricting those choices.

I spoke with a homeschooling family in another state yesterday, where they’ve had these vouchers in place for nearly a decade. When the family first began homeschooling, they were very loosely regulated and had the freedom to choose their curriculum. Now they spend a good portion of the school year ‘checking off boxes,’ ‘meeting with state officials,’ and trying to make sure they ‘jump through all of the hoops.’ The mom was very frustrated because it wasn’t helping her; it was wasting her time. The son was frustrated because he was no longer allowed to explore the classes that interested him (he wants to go into computer engineering, not underwater basket weaving), but instead had to complete a series of worksheets and other things his state-compliance-officer said he had not checked off in the “thousands of check boxes.” The mom said they literally spent four hours in a meeting last week with said officer going through a list of boxes of things to see if her son had covered the topics. Mom says the vast majority of these changes have come down the pipe in the past three years.

When I talk with homeschooling families in states where vouchers have more recently passed, I hear a similar story, but on a fast-tracked timeline. They were sold one idea, and then it was changed a year or two later. It’s the legislative bait-and-switch. While my examples are all about homeschooling families, as that is the population I work with, I’m sure that there are elements of bait-and-switch that are going to apply to non-homeschooling families as well. Don’t give up your freedoms in the name of getting a little bit of money. In fact — every family I speak with says that money flows freely at first, but then becomes harder and harder to get. The CA family from yesterday still has 85% of their allotted funding left for the year because they can’t access it since they haven’t jumped through all the appropriate hoops yet. Mom ended up paying for all of their curriculum out of pocket and is still required to follow the state voucher rules.

My experience is with homeschooling families, so I cannot speak to how school choice is affecting families of private or public school students.  But from a psychological perspective, it’s much easier to control the mouse in the maze once you have it used to getting the free cheese. 

Okay, one could call this “fallacy of small sample”. This is one woman I know, who talks to homeschooling families.

But what we can do is this: Governor Stitt is quoted in a recent Daily Oklahoman article about his committment to a voucher plan for Oklahoma, as saying,

“Other states like Iowa and Virginia and Florida and New Hampshire have already figured it out,” Stitt said in his remarks. “Providing more options for students leads to better outcomes. Oklahoma cannot afford to be left behind.” [Oklahoma Gov. Stitt proposes $130M school voucher program. Will rural opposition sink it again?]

So, let’s at least do this: let’s go out and see what the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) says about the homeschooling requirements for each state.

Iowa: Good grief. Iowa’s homeschooling regulations are too numerous to bother with here. The link is on the state name, good luck getting through all that in under 15 minutes. Also include a VACCINATION REQUIREMENT for kids.

Virginia: Same song second verse. Homeschooling regulations too numerous to mention including a VACCINATION REQUIREMENT for kids. Yup, very, very free so far.

Read the rest of White's post here.


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