Trent England | May 15, 2023
Why homeschoolers deserve school choice
Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to include homeschoolers in a new school choice program that will offer tax credits to offset educational costs. Thousands of Oklahoma families, including mine, have homeschooled their children. Many of us support Gov. Stitt’s plan. Ironically, some homeschool lobby groups are trying to stop other families from getting that help.
Homeschool families are a diverse group, with different reasons for teaching kids at home. For some, it’s about religious beliefs. For others, academics. Still other homeschool families do it because of a child’s special needs or a family’s unusual circumstances.
There are different ways to homeschool, too. Some families go it on their own, while others rely on co-op or online programs for curriculum and instruction. And the results are wildly diverse. Some families struggle to maintain structure and discipline. Other homeschool kids get an education that goes far beyond what is available at elite private schools.
Not all homeschool groups are glad to see the movement become larger and more diverse. It threatens their political clout to have too many homeschool families who see the world differently than they do. They are trying to keep it harder to homeschool.
For my family, homeschooling was about customizing education to each of our three children and taking advantage of our unique circumstances. Stringing together a few of my work trips, we once spent a month road-tripping from Williamsburg, Virginia, through Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, ending in Boston for Thanksgiving. As the kids got older, we enrolled them in a virtual program, then in college courses. Our youngest graduates high school this month.
Education is the foundation of our shared future. It is too important to surrender to a one-size-fits-all mindset. Freedom—individual initiative and personal responsibility—is what has made the United States of America the most dynamic and successful nation in history. Gov. Stitt recognizes this, and cares enough to support all forms of education in Oklahoma.
His plan, which has passed the state House and Senate in different forms, is about fairness to Oklahoma families. Why should the state freeload off homeschoolers? How can it be right to make a family pay twice for education just because their child needs something other than a traditional public school? The governor’s proposal would provide a refundable tax credit to families for private-school tuition or homeschoolers’ educational expenses.
Yet some homeschool groups have come out against this plan. Why? They claim it allows government interference in homeschooling. But tax credits are taxpayer dollars, and the program allows for no such meddling. In fact, some of these groups previously demanded that school choice programs use tax credits for these very reasons. So what’s really going on?
Not all homeschool groups are glad to see the movement become larger and more diverse. It threatens their political clout to have too many homeschool families who see the world differently than they do. Consider that no homeschool family would be required to claim the school choice tax credit. It would be a choice. Those who oppose it are trying to stop other families from having that choice. They are trying to keep it harder to homeschool.
Oklahoma should respect homeschoolers and treat them fairly. So should other homeschool organizations. If families want or need to get some of their tax dollars back to support educating their own children, they should have that choice. Gov. Stitt deserves credit for standing up for all Oklahoma students and families. The Legislature should send the plan to his desk.
David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow
Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.