Why We Don't Support EdChoice
We fully support Education Liberty or a parent having the right to choose the method or venue in which they educate their children, but we do warn against EdReform or EdChoice encouraging families to take government funds to do so.
We do not support the School Choice movement or School Choice Week as a method to market home education.
Why Are Constitutional Home Educators NOT For EdChoice?
EdChoice is the foremost organization which is pushing for government funded ESAs and Excellence in Education in nearly every state.
Proposed ESAs are actually government subsidies or educational welfare
These programs are modeled after the Nevada law which is drowning in law suits and still has no funding method. Due to a recent NV Supreme Court decision is unlikely to be funded in 2017.
Educational choice funded by government ESAs will be a breeding ground for fraud as evidenced in Arizona.
All indications show that EdChoice plans will raise taxes for all citizens, especially property owners.
Using Ed Choice ESAs will require some type of testing for all students involved, for the sake of “accountability to the tax payer," of which many are tied to Common Core Standards.
It is unclear what happens if students do not achieve adequate test results.
Government funded EdChoice does not decrease the monopoly of public education, it increases it exponentially because any school that serves the broad public interest and is ultimately accountable to public authorities would be labeled “public” under this definition.
It requires enrollment in public school for at least 100 days after which students can withdraw. What will this do to the public school dynamics?
The EdChoice ESA will put students who participate in both state and federal longitudinal data mining programs.
Using EdChoice ESAs will blur the distinction between private schools and government funded public schools. All schools who receive public funding will be public schools.
EdChoice will cause confusion in the distinction of a true parent-led, independently funded home educator and that of a public school student educating at home.
EdChoice has distinctive similarities to the UN and its School Choice agenda.
The low-income students, for which the ESA are supposedly written, are seldom the participants in the program. See what is happening in Nevada.
Oklahoma parents already have the constitutional right to direct the education of their children and have been doing so successfully,many at their own expense, free from government oversight for over a century.
Reasons to Oppose EdChoice and their ESAs
With few states in the US having passed this type of legislation, we have little history from which we can measure the success or failure of government funded school choice. We must refer to these states for evidence as to how these programs are working and what kind of success or fall-out has ensued since being passed. This information has been compiled through testimony from experts in Nevada, Arizona, Indiana, and from the plethora of reports, committee hearings, and other information available on the Web. For more information about ESAs, click HERE.
1. How will an ESA be funded?
Authors (Ed Choice) of the 2015 NV-ESA bill proclaimed, “It allows parents to remove their children from their assigned public schools and access a portion or all of their children’s public education funding to pay for services like private school tuition, curriculum, learning therapies, tutoring and more.” Nevada passed this legislation in 2015 and to this day it has not been funded. NO PARENTS have received any ESA funding and in reality they enrolled their children (either in public school to become eligible or in a private school) HOPING that the lawsuits would be resolved in favor of the program... but it was not.
In Oklahoma, the tiered funding formula for schools could mean that double-dipping will occur for at least one year, and unless new legislation passes changing that format, it could possibly promote double-dipping for up to three years.
With an ESA, parents have to enroll their child in a public school for at least 100 days. This ensures that the student is in attendance for at least the first 9 weeks enabling the school district to receive full funding for that student. After the 100 day, the parents pull them and they TOO are promised that funding. How does that work? Where is the second set of funding going to come from? In addition, with the tiered funding for schools, using the current formula, if the schools attendance for last year is higher than the current year, they can use the numbers from the previous year (up to two years in the past) to receive their funding. Meaning, even if the student is no longer enrolled in the public school, they will receive funding for them in addition to 80% of that funding being paid to the parent through an ESA.
Where are the funds going to come from?
2. Lawsuits Are Inevitable
Nevada has had two major lawsuits ensue from this legislation. Both lawsuits were heard before the
Nevada Supreme court and a final decision was handed down on September 29, 2016 but a funding method has still not been implemented. Should the Legislature fund laws that have serious issues and just "hope" that no one files a lawsuit? The amount of money already spent in Nevada on setting up this program by the State Treasurer and defending it by the Attorney General's office in court have already been quite high... and unfunded. But maybe that's the price we pay as citizens for "good government?"
3. ESAs are breeding grounds for fraud
ESA proponents in Arizona would ultimately desire to push for expansion of the bill in each legislative session. However, the program is currently riddled with fraud and the DOE will not allow expansion until there are more regulations in place. This plays directly into the hands of those who would like to expand the reach of the government into all types of education.
4. Expanding Government Reach
Government Funded School Choice Advocates proclaim parents are the best suited to decide where their child receives their government funded education but concede that with tax-payer funding a minimal level of "accountability" is necessary. Self-funding independent home educators proclaim they have the legal right and responsibility to direct the education of their child FREE from government control (with laws and court decisions to back them up).
Currently, home education is completely separate from institutional education programs. Parents are solely responsible for expenses and implementation. Educational Savings Accounts (ESA) blurs those lines by sending taxpayer dollars into homes. This ultimately turns homeschools and private schools into public schools and subject to government regulation. The introduction of government money endangers educational liberty. Government money always comes with strings.
In fact, by allowing the government funding to follow the student only increases the monopoly the government has on public education, it does not decrease it. Whether it is called Charter, Virtual, ESA Enrolled, or any other name, if government funded, it is government controlled. All must adhere to the state standards and all of these options will place your children into the longitudinal data base where over 400 points of information (including biometrics) will be collected on your child from birth to age 20.
“Any private schools that do participate will thereby become public schools, as such schools are defined under the new system.” 
”By rhetorical sleight-of-hand, this redefinition would address long-standing concerns about the propriety of providing government support to public schools simply by declaring private schools to be public. “ 
Based on the above quotes by school choice advocates, homeschools, as defined by law, would then become public schools which is a violation of our federal Constitutional right to provide an education independent of government intrusion.
5. Unintended Consequences
In 2013 a meeting was held with State Superintendent Barresi (which included an AGA from the Tulsa office, representatives from DHS, Trustees from Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Consociation and state school board members) to discuss a possible problem with homeschool students being truant and their parents not actually providing any education. In the course of this meeting, it came to light that the problem was more in the fact that the public schools were encouraging failing or troubled students to leave the school system in order to home school knowing, that many of these children would not have parental supervision or support. Many of these students were already involved in DHS cases but for some reason, after leaving the public school, they fell through the cracks of DHS responsibility. Immediately, the finger was pointed at home education but Superintendent Barresi recognized that the problem was not home education, but a lack of responsibility on the part of the public school and DHS. In this past year, Indiana Association of Home Educators has been involved in providing testimony for the School to Prison Pipeline before the Indiana Advisory Committee of the US Commission on Civil Rights in support of home education. During this effort, they heard confirmation that schools nation-wide are pushing problematic or struggling learners out of their schools and into other education options including home education. These public push-out students, who do not have appropriate parental support at home, often end up in the juvenile justice system. Given the unchecked practice of public schools pushing-out students, ESAs have the potential to not only continue the practice, but incentivize it. Rather than dealing with the problem at hand, the shell game continues when it comes to the neediest students. Now, enemies of home education can point fingers to public school truants by calling them homeschoolers and claim homeschooling needs “accountability”. This sets the stage to punish responsible parents who are graduating students with rigorous academic training. This is another unintended consequence of ESAs on home education.
6. Educational Liberty Is Secret to Success
Home educators are allowed to be innovators in education. Curriculum can be adapted for the student rather than the student adapting to the school’s curriculum. Children can learn at their pace without the stress of constant assessment. The joy of learning is allowed to take hold. Inserting government “oversight” or “accountability” into home education introduces the very problems that plague our public schools into our homes. What benefit has child assessment given students in schools now other than frustrating struggling learners and creating incentives for principals to push poor performers out of the public school?
We already have choice. In Oklahoma, our constitution allows for three distinct types of education: Public - Requires enrollment in a government funded, government controlled institution and includes
Traditional Public School
Public School at Home (online classes)
Virtual Charter School (online classes)
Corporately run virtual schools such as Epic (online classes)
Private - Requires enrollment in a parentally funded, privately controlled institution and includes
Private Christian Schools
Private Secular Schools
Online Private Schools
Other means - No enrollment required. Is parentally funded, directed, and controlled and includes
The choices are there and always have been since the beginnings of statehood. The problem now is that those screaming for parental control and educational freedom really only want freedom within the government funded and controlled system, not freedom from the system. True Educational Liberty only comes when the government has no control at all.
“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.” ~ Milton Friedman
One choice with many names is no choice.