November 21, 2022
Has School Choice hurt any homeschoolers to date?
The short answer is “No.” A more perceptive answer is “No, because homeschoolers have erected barriers against harm from existing School Choice programs.” It is not an accident that homeschoolers have remained safe.
School Choice is government-funded K-12 education where parents get to choose where the money goes. An Education Savings Account (ESA) is one form of School Choice. The government deposits money into a “savings account” which the parent can then use for education expenses for the student.
The problem with School Choice programs for homeschoolers in general, and ESAs in particular, is that regulations acceptable to homeschoolers taking the government money can eventually be imposed on those homeschoolers who do not take the government money.
So, how have homeschoolers defended themselves from this danger? The first way has been to defeat School Choice bills outright in the legislature or delete homeschoolers from those bills. This has happened in several states this year, such as Oklahoma.
The second defense inserts a legal boundary between those who take the money and submit to additional regulations, and private homeschoolers (who do not take the money). Homeschoolers in Arizona and West Virginia were able to do this. Corey DeAngelis — the School Choice advocate — surprisingly explains:
“ESA students” are defined separately from “homeschool” students in the law. If you accept the funding, your child is an “ESA student” even if what you’re doing looks a lot like homeschooling. This is another way to protect pure homeschoolers from any future regulations.
Only by hard work have homeschoolers been able to protect themselves so far. Why do I say “so far?” Because laws are always subject to change later on.
One might hope that the legal boundary solution would be satisfactory to School Choice advocates, because those homeschoolers who are willing to accept more regulation in exchange for government money are still able to do so.
The Arizona law, with its legal boundary provision, has been a model of homeschool protection for years. Yet School Choice advocates continue to file their bills year after year without a legal boundary protecting homeschoolers.
Will School Choice advocates try to nullify homeschooler defenses in the future? They have fought step by step against our interests so far. If they continue on their current trajectory, the answer is Yes, they may well do just that.