COMMENTARY | If Oklahoma State Senator Jim Wilson had his way, parents could find themselves fighting the state to regain custody of their own children, even though no one had broken any law. According to the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Consociation, the Oklahoma Constitution guarantees parents the right to provide their children “other means of education” with no regulations on how they set their schedules. Many homeschools operate successfully on radically different schedules than the public schools.
However, Senate Bill 393, introduced earlier this month by Senator Wilson, would remove the truancy exemption for homeschoolers from state law. This would force parents to keep their kids at home and out of sight any time public school is in session or risk having their children taken into custody and detained at a youth detention facility. Under Senator Wilson’s proposal, there would be an assumption of guilt until the parents were able to prove their child’s innocence.
State Representative Bob Evans introduced a bill this month in Mississippi which the Home School Legal Defense Association called “The Most Threatening Homeschool Bill in the Nation.” It would give the state authority to collect “unspecified and unlimited information” on homeschool families, and would force all homeschool parents to go before a judge and plead for their rights to educate their children on a case by case basis. Under House Bill 464, in a state where homeschooling is legal, parents would have to defend their situation regardless of the fact that they had never done anything wrong. This bill was also written in the name of truancy regulations, and is again an assumption of guilt until innocence is proven in a court of law.
Perhaps most insidious of all, Iowa House Bill 191, proposed by Representative Hunter, would give permission to a state social worker to enter any “facility, program, or school” without a warrant simply on an accusation of abuse. According to HSLDA, because the bill does not closely define schools and programs, homeschoolers in that state could be subject to searches of their homes and potentially the removal of their children without a judge ever signing a thing. Where but in a police state are citizens subject to such treatment?
Thankfully, these bills all seem to have stalled in committees, but bad bills like these are proposed every year in states across the nation. Every year, homeschool parents work together to stop these bills from becoming the law of the land, but the work is not easy. If you are a homeschooler, or if you just believe in a parent’s right and obligation to choose the best education for their individual child, watch out for bills that threaten parental rights and let your legislators know where you stand.