Oregon Education Association (NEA Teacher’s Union Affiliate)
Press Release, May 26, 2005
Ann: I’ve included the entire Press Release. My comments follow.
A bill that would remove all opportunity for the state to intervene in cases of parental educational neglect passed the House of Representatives Wednesday with a 37-22 vote. OEA opposed House Bill 2733, which removed the last piece of educational accountability for home education still in statute by eliminating the requirement that students test at the third, fifth, eighth and tenth grade levels. Representatives Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton) and John Lim (R-Gresham) joined 20 Democrats in opposing the bill.
Claiming that the state has no ?Äúright?Äù to tell parents how or even whether to educate their children, home school advocates pressed for this ?Äúhome school freedom?Äù bill, as they called it. They baked pies for legislators, brought in their children to perform musical pieces, testified, and lobbied hard for HB 2733, crowding the capitol with hundreds of families.
OEA asserted that the state has an obligation to ensure that all children have equal access to educational opportunity. The Association acknowledged that most home-school parents do an excellent job with their students, but that our laws are always written for the few ?Äúbad apples?Äù in society. Minimal accountability standards may help to identify children deprived of educational opportunity and allow for intervention where appropriate.
HB 2733 now goes to the Senate, where OEA will work to amend or defeat the bill. Two years ago, the 2003 Legislature passed an identical bill, which Gov. Kulongoski vetoed.
End of Release.
Ann: Big surprise – the OEA opposes HB 2733. Why they feel the need to take such a condescending and mean spirited tone is beyond my understanding, although I did think one bit of the OEA language was maybe just a tad mellower than in past years.
"The Association acknowledged that most home-school parents do an excellent job with their students…
Ann: This is the first time the OEA has acknowledged that homeschooling was anything but a bad and dangerous idea. Also, this statement is much milder that the NEA Resolution of last year asserting that homeschooling should be allowed only under the supervision of a certified teacher.
The OEA press release opens a huge can of worms by bringing up "educational neglect." Are you sure you want to go there, OEA?
"A bill that would remove all opportunity for the state to intervene in cases of parental educational neglect …
Ann: You can’t discuss "parental" educational neglect without also opening a discussion of "institutional" educational neglect. Institutional educational neglect and abuse is a dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about, but since the OEA brought it up first, let’s hit it.
Does the OEA really not understand that many people have left public school because of "institutional" educational neglect? Does the OEA really think that the public will rally against parental educational neglect, but let institutional educational neglect slip under the radar? Maybe it is time to shed some light on just why so many parents are so angry that they walk away from the school system.
I’ve spoken with many irate and frustrated parents who first chose to homeschool solely because of the gross educational neglect of their child or children by the institution of public school. At the end of the day, after going through all the processes available, they had no recourse but to take the decisions of the school as final or leave the school. Period. They were helpless to change anything for their child, because there was no such thing as "educational neglect."
Kids who graduated from high school with a diploma but who were functionally illiterate had no recourse. They could not sue the school or teachers because there was no such thing as educational neglect. Students with special needs were placed with teachers or students that made their conditions worse, not better. The parents had no recourse, for there was no such thing as educational neglect. Autistic children were placed in classes for the mentally retarded rather than autistic classes, but the parents had no recourse, for there was no such thing as educational neglect. A girl was locked in a broom closet and her mother had no recourse but to put up with it or remove her from school, because she was told there was no such thing as educational neglect, or in her case apparently, educational abuse. Parents whose child was fraudulently labeled for special needs got a run-around but no services, although the school managed to collect its federal dollars each year. In fact, they continued to collect even after the parents withdrew their son to homeschool.
Horror story after horror story and parents have been helpless to do anything.
Are the stories I’ve heard isolated instances, or are they just the tip of the iceberg?
Does the OEA really want to accuse homeschooling parents – as a class – of "educational neglect"?
Do they think homeschoolers and other parents will stand idly by without pointing out the rampant "institutional educational neglect" that has been business as usual for many years?
Perhaps the OEA should tend its own garden.