Protections from Government Control
In some instances, the government will try to control anyone who takes public funds. But when families choose to participate in the features offered by the School Choice Amendment, these families are sheltered by many layers of built-in protection from government control:
1) We are amending the Oregon Constitution, the supreme law of Oregon. Once our School Choice Amendment is passed by a vote of Oregon voters, it will become law and nullify existing legislation that conflicts with the protections we add to the Oregon Constitution. The Amendment will also protect against future legislation that attempts to contradict the protections we put in the Constitution.
2) We use education savings accounts (we call them School Choice Accounts) as the funding vehicles. Supreme Courts have held that once government money is deposited into an education savings account, the money is no longer public funds. We have language in our Amendment that provides that specifically provides that once Oregon’s education dollars are deposited into the School Choice Accounts, the dollars are no longer public funds. Since the education dollars in the School Choice Accounts will no longer be public funds, the government may not control the parents and education providers as “users” of public funds.
3) We add protective language into the Oregon Constitution that prevents the state of Oregon from requiring parents (including home school families) and education providers (including private schools) to change their creed, education practices, teaching credentials or qualifications, admission policy or curricula!
4) We add protective language into the Oregon Constitution that provides that the actions of parents (including home school families) and education providers (including private schools) are not the actions of the government. This language prevents the government from claiming that it may control the parents and education providers because they are acting as agents for the government. This language also protects a parents’ choice of type of curriculum or private school.
5) We added protective language into the Oregon Constitution that provides that parents and education providers who participate in the benefits and protections of the School Choice Amendment will be in a constitutional category that is exempt from compulsory attendance at a public school.
The Amendments do not change how public and private schools educate their students or how parents homeschool their children. The School Choice Amendment cements into the Oregon Constitution protections for participating parents and private schools. The Amendment provides parents with the opportunity to direct education funding on their own and to spend it on a variety of education services that meet the unique learning needs of their children. Parents are able to customize the educational experience for their children by directing funds to pay for curriculum, private school tuition, educational therapy, tutors, computers, transportation, online programs, and other education costs. When a parent or education provider participates in the benefits and protections of the Amendment, they are protected from government control so that they may continue to teach children in the manner and with the focus that they feel is in the best interests of the students.
With the financial resources provided by the School Choice Amendment, Oregon families who want to participate and ask for a School Choice Account will receive some of Oregon’s education dollars to provide their children with the education that matches the needs and interests of the children. Depending on the student, that could mean a smaller school, a school that caters to learning differences, a college-prep school, or a school that focuses on math, science or the arts. This may be beneficial for parents who (i) want an alternative to a public school; (ii) lost their job during Covid or for any reason; (iii) do not otherwise have the money to pay for educational items for their children, such as private schooling, educational therapy, tutors; and (iv) need their special needs children to receive specialized educational services in the private setting rather than in a public school.
Allowing Oregon’s education dollars to follow the student to where the student receives education will help Oregon taxpayers. The amount of education dollars provided to parents in a School Choice Account for use in a private education setting will be far less than the cost to educate the same child in a public school. To the extent that students are educated in the less expensive private education setting, there will be an overall savings in the cost to educate Oregon students. And, to the extent that private schools continue to exist to educate some Oregon students, there will not be a sudden influx of tens of thousands of private school students into the public schools leading to overcrowding, a shortage of resources in the public schools, and a higher tax bill for Oregonians.
Both Amendments will benefit public schools, private schools, homeschool families and most importantly, the students, who will have a real opportunity to get the education best suited to their needs. When education dollars fund the student instead of a system, education outcomes will improve — and that helps everyone in Oregon!