QuickPoint!

The Oregon State Senate recently advanced education freedom by eliminating mandatory testing of homeschool students, and House members will consider the bill in the coming weeks. If this bill is passed into law, it will treat home education the same as private schools by not subjecting either to government intervention.

Senate Bill 761 passed 20 to 9, but there are senators who continue to believe, despite historical and contemporary evidence, that only government schools and laws effectively serve children. Sen. Tony Corcoran D-Cottage Grove said, “I work with at-risk families. There is a whole culture of kids who will get hurt because of this bill.”

It is not immediately obvious who these children are, because the Oregon Department of Education reports that under current law no homeschool students have been remanded to public schools as a result of falling below the 15th percentile on a national test for two consecutive years. By definition,15 percent of students nationally fall below this level. Should they be remanded to homeschooling?

The Senate’s vote resonates with a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned an Oregon law that required all students to attend government-run schools. The Court said, “The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” Oregon legislators should heed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and continue to empower parents to direct their children’s education.

Nick Weller is an education policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.