by Carolyn Martin (CHEC Director of Government Relations)
Beware The Bait & Switch
Across the country, in more than half the states, legislation to enact laws promoting what they are touting as “school choice” have been introduced. They all look very similar to the bill defeated in Colorado last year (SB22-039). They carry fanciful names like “Hope Scholarship,” “Family Empowerment Scholarship,” and “Equality for Educational Opportunity.” But do these programs really offer hope, empowerment, or equality? The truth is they offer more of the same failed government-run education. If these bills become law, the length of the long arm of the government will be extended into private schools and private homes. Every one of these proposals comes with restrictions on curriculum and service providers, oversight by state “experts,” and bureaucratic red tape.
In 2021, West Virginia (WV) passed a Hope Scholarship Program (HSP) which opened up school funding to all students. The language in the bill was carefully amended to create a new type of student eligible to receive the funds so that homeschoolers wouldn’t get caught up in the regulation dragnet (much like the amendment to the bill in CO). Homeschoolers were promised this new program would not impact their ability to homeschool free from government control. Within months of the program’s enactment, a bill was introduced that swept homeschoolers into the regulatory restrictions of the HSP. Did West Virginians just get snagged by a bait and switch or did the legislators just make a mistake? You decide.
School choice advocates keep trying to assure us they don’t want more regulations for homeschoolers and any increased regulations that come our way don’t have anything to do with their efforts. Yet those efforts ultimately give the government more control over all sectors of education. Beware the bait and switch!
Currently, in the Colorado legislature, an introduced bill (HB23-1188) literally took my breath away when I read it. It reads like the government’s dream regulatory scheme to control homeschoolers under the guise of “individualized learning.” Our only saving grace is that the teachers’ unions see it as a way for homeschoolers to get funding (it doesn’t directly) and won’t be supporting it in its current form. Stay alert because depending on how this bill moves forward, we may need you to take action. In the meantime, pray the Lord continues to extend His mercy to homeschoolers in Colorado and across the nation as the battle rages for true family empowerment to disciple their children in the Lord!
Trusting in the mighty power and grace of Jesus,
CHEC Director of Government Relations