By Elise DeYoung
In recent months, Oklahoma and Michigan, two states that have historically had low regulation on homeschool freedoms, have sought to pass restrictive laws. These states both claim to be passing homeschool registration and oversight laws to prevent the abuse of home-educated children.
Since homeschooling became legal in 1992, many states have tirelessly attempted to oversee and regulate a parent’s right to home education. If you wish to learn about your state’s homeschool laws, you can do so by visiting HSLDA’s website.
You can learn more about the specifics of Michigan’s proposal and its problems here.
In Oklahoma, Rep. Amanda Swope has introduced HB 4130, which would require homeschool parents to send in a letter to the Department of Human Services requesting to homeschool their child, provide the information of every adult involved in the child’s education, and go through biannual background checks performed by the DHS.
While the intentions of Swope may sound noble at first (who wouldn’t want to put an end to the abuse of children?), this bill is founded on a false premise and represents a trend of state aggression towards homeschooling. For these reasons, Americans, especially in Oklahoma, must strongly oppose Swope’s bill to restrict and regulate homeschooling families.
The Narrative is Fabricated
The entire reason for the bill rests upon the premise that there is an epidemic of abuse among homeschooled children, and we need new legislation to address it. Sadly, for Swope and her bill, the statistical facts strongly contradict this narrative.
First, all of the evidence available shows that “homeschooled children are abused at a lower rate than are those in the general public, and no evidence shows that the home educated are at any higher risk of abuse.”(Ray, 2018) What’s more, a Gen 2 Survey found that homeschooled students are actually 257% less likely to be sexually abused than their government-schooled peers.
It is ironic that Swope’s proposed solution to the fallacious low abuse rates among homeschoolers is government regulation. This has yet to help public schoolers who experience constant state oversight. What makes her think it will help the homeschoolers in any way?
Additionally, according to the statistics, if Swope were truly concerned with addressing child abuse in her state, she would turn her attention to the place where children suffer the most—government schools.
Even if there were high rates of abuse among homeschooled children, there are already nationwide laws on the books that protect all children from abuse, including homeschoolers. There is no reason to pass another bill. Oklahoma simply has to enforce the ones it already has in place.
So why do Swope and those who support HB 4130 want to pass it so badly? The answer is increased government oversight and regulation on homeschooling.
To understand the extent of the government overreach within HB 4130, we must examine the document ourselves.
Letters of Intent
Paragraph F. reads, “On or before the school district start date, parents making the decision to choose homeschooling, podschooling, or microschooling shall submit a letter of intent to the Department of Human Services.”
A Letter of Intent can easily be dismissed as “normal” because many states require homeschooling parents to write a letter outlining their intent to homeschool. However, most states require parents to submit it to their local school district or to their state. The purpose of this is to inform their state schools that it is not responsible for their child’s education.
The difference is that with this bill, Oklahoma parents must submit their letter of intent to the Department of Human Services. Later in the bill, the letter of intent is referred to as “a request to homeschool” and may be denied by the DHS. Denial of a fundamental right to educate one’s child is an egregious abuse of power. Since when did the DHS (the civil government) have the right to determine whether a family has the right to homeschool their children?
The bill continues by explaining what information parents are required to surrender:
- The names of the homeschooling parents
- The social security numbers of parents.
- The names of all the homeschooled children
- The home address of the family homeschooling
- The names of all individuals living at the home address
- The names of “any associated individuals or organizations assisting with the child’s or children’s schooling.”
- Along with “A brief statement for the decision of schooling”
Furthermore, this bill requires you to “reapply” for homeschooling by sending in a “subsequent letter of intent” every time you make a change in your initial decision to homeschool, whether it is “a result of a move or otherwise.”
Paragraph H. says, “When the Department of Human Services receives a letter of intent, it shall perform an initial background check on parents, other adults within the home, and any adults assisting in the children’s schooling.”
The fact that the DHS wants to perform background checks on parents to decide whether or not they have the right to home-educate their children is Orwellian. It also begs a fascinating question:
Why does this bill not include background checks for the parents of public school students? Those students are home, with no government supervision, for three whole months. Why isn’t Swope concerned about abuse in those homes?
Background checks on “parents, other adults within the home, and any adults assisting in the children’s schooling” is both a disturbing invasion into the homes of home educators and will also cause a multitude of issues for tutoring programs and independent educators who will now be subject to background checks by the DHS.
Moreover, parents must repeat all the regulations examined so far biannually. “The Department shall maintain a system to conduct biannual checks of the database and compile a database of individuals, facilities, and organizations that perform and assist with homeschooling, podschooling, or microschooling.”
This regulation means that by the time an Oklahoma homeschool student has graduated, the DHS will have made 24 reviews on that child’s security information, address, family members, homeschool organizations, and teachers.
The bill concludes that the DHS may deny “requests” to homeschool and will deny them if any adult involved in the child’s education has a “pending child abuse or neglect investigation” against them.
Constitutional Home Educators explains the danger of this vague wording: “There are so many loopholes here that could allow DHS to deny your request to home educate. It does not say just an abuse or neglect conviction; it includes a pending investigation. All it takes is an accusation.”
Oppose HB 4130
This bill represents an outrageous abuse of government authority and power. First, it is completely unnecessary and will be totally ineffective. Regulation does not reduce abuse. Second, the bill is designed to empower government-run agencies to dictate a parent’s right to home educate and to regulate that right if it is “approved” by the state. This bill is a blatant abuse of power and must be ardently rejected by the citizens of Oklahoma before it is instated and enforced.
Homeschool freedom is a right that many before us have fought to win. We cannot allow the state to deceive us into surrendering this right for a fabricated narrative and a false promise. All Americans must stand in support of Oklahoma citizens as they fight on the front lines for educational freedom.
Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. Elise is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!
 (n.d.). 2022 Oklahoma Statutes Title 21. Crimes and Punishments §21-843.5. Child abuse – Child neglect – Child sexual abuse – Child sexual exploitation – Enabling – Penalties. Justia US Law. https://law.justia.com/codes/oklahoma/2022/title-21/section-21-843-5/