Being a conservative is often a lonely position. Asking people to take responsibility for THEMSELVES to prevent government intervention is not an easy sell in a world where all the creature comforts of human existence are but a moment away. After being attacked personally by OCPAC for an opinion Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment corporately holds, a rebuttal is in order. It follows below.
Let's be very clear: NO, ROPE does not support the movement of tax dollars (government money - vouchers) to private or homeschools.
- Individual and family tax credits for home or private school. Oklahoma doesn't have this option currently, but there are several bills in the legislature this year to do so - SB1471 - and several modifications to increase the EOES (below)
- Tax credit scholarships created by private individuals and corporations that make a donation to a scholarship set up for families in need to use for a tax credit (Oklahoma already has the Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship program that fits this bill.) The EOES supports both students in failing schools AND low income families.
- Money following the child throughout the public (government) school system from failing schools (open transfers)
- Creation of charter and other 'extra'-public schools of which Oklahoma now has 30 (OSDE charter school report)
"The passage of SB1647 is a must and will give authority to the parent to direct their child's education."
This is incorrect. Oklahoma parents have more authority to direct their child's education than many other states. Parents in Oklahoma can:
- constitutionally home school their children in any way they please
- send their children to an Oklahoma private school - many of which provide scholarships for needy families on their own (Casady, Heritage Hall, Oklahoma Christian School, Holland Hall, etc.)
- send their children to a public online charter school like EPIC, which provides tax dollars to parents who would like to school their children at home using EPIC's curriculum
- send their children to a brick and mortar charter school (link above)
- begin saving their money in a state-sponsored 529 program when their children are born to use for either college or a private K12 school
- use the EOES mentioned above to attend a private school
- transfer to another public school - if allowed by the school to which the transfer would be made
- use the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship (voucher) for students with disabilities to attend a private school
"Education dollars are fiduciary funds"
The term 'fiduciary' comes from the word 'trust'. A 'fiduciary' responsibility imposes a restriction that money given (or taken) is used in good faith and in the best interest of the owner of the money. That's all that means.
The government has no money it doesn't forcibly take from citizens (people who don't pay their taxes go to jail or lose their property), so all 'government' dollars are tax dollars, taken from the people. Yes, government has a fiduciary responsibility for those funds, but how many times have those been overlooked and money spent wastefully and fraudulently? Who is NOT familiar with wasteful government spending? Tom Coburn was.
Bob uses Social Security as an example. This is a sad example of 'fiduciary' funds. Though I've paid into the SS system, it has been raided over and over by government overreach to the point that few of us my age will have funds to use for retirement. What happened to the government's 'fiduciary' responsibility there? Clue: GOVERNMENT DOESN'T CARE ABOUT 'FIDUCIARY' RESPONSIBILITY or public schools wouldn't be the problem they are now. If government cared, they would have appreciated their fiduciary responsibility and made schools responsible for not educating students all along.
TJ Schmidt, an attorney with Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), does not agree with Bob's assessment and says that, because all money comes from taxpayers, any government money taken from citizens but then given back - as in to home or privately school children (voucher) - comes with the need to make those funds ACCOUNTABLE to taxpayers.
Here is a PERFECT example from Arizona, a state where government money is given to homeschooling families. CLUTCHING PEARLS...how could it be that a government audit found $700,000 abused by 'homeschooling' parents?
When citizens are 'incentivized' to use government money to do something they don't have the personal responsibility to do on their own, there will be fraud - it's simply human nature.
In fact, my contention is that parents who want to homeschool do so to ESCAPE government entrapment and don't want ANY government involvement. Parents who want government money to school at home use a system like EPIC where government money pays for curricula to be used at home. Data from Arizona indicates I'm correct.
- parents funding private school OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKETS were the happiest of all
- though polling shows 29% of Arizonans would use private school and 14% homeschool, the actual numbers are MUCH LESS - 6% and 2% of Arizonans actually use the GOVERNMENT programs respectively and Arizona was one of the earliest adopters of 'school choice' programs
- coming together to co-house and afford housing to homeschool
- working from home and schooling when able in their schedule
- church-created homeschool coops for single parents
- teaming up with other families to create a coop so that each day the parents rotate so one is in charge of the children every day
- teaming up to hire a tutor to teach all the children each day
- homeschool families bringing in children of single parents to school with their own kids (I did this with the child of a single friend. She just became a part of the family and she graduated with my own!)