The History of Homeschooling in Oregon

While parents in Oregon currently enjoy many homeschool freedoms, this hasn’t always been the case. It is important that you understand where we have come from and the work we still have ahead of us to preserve and expand homeschool freedoms in Oregon. Taking our freedoms for granted would be unwise and even dangerous, inviting the risk that we would lose those freedoms in future generations. 

The Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network has championed the cause of homeschool freedom in Oregon for more than 30 years. Watch the video below (or read the script below it) and share it with your friends!

We invite you link arms with us in the fight for homeschool freedoms and become an OCEANetwork Supporting Family. 

More ways to connect with us:

The History of Homeschooling in Oregon

In the early 80s, families had to ask their local school district for permission to homeschool.

Some districts granted permission grudgingly, others required homeschool students to take an annual achievement test in a public school classroom with 30 plus strangers, some required families to submit a year’s worth of lesson plans, and still other districts refused outright. 

In 1985, homeschool parents, acting on the principle that parents should not have to ask permission to exercise their God-given responsibility to raise their children, worked tirelessly in Salem to pass a homeschool bill that allowed parents anywhere in the state to notify that they were going to homeschool instead of asking permission, submitting lesson plans, or testing in the public schools.

The tradeoff was that homeschool students had to test annually, but they could do it with other homeschool students instead of in a public school classroom.

In 1987, and every legislative session for years [note: those years were 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993] bills were introduced which threatened to take away the newly established homeschool freedoms. 

Homeschoolers, including volunteers from OCEANetwork, were instrumental in shutting down bill after bill.

In 1990 the Department of Education attempted to implement administrative rules that were ill-conceived and would have required many homeschoolers to return to the classroom.

With no email, and no internet, OCEANetwork used its network of homeschool support groups and a postcard mailing to inform homeschoolers of a hearing on the rules.

More than 1,000 home educators came to Salem on short notice. 

Busses ferried homeschoolers from the Salem armory to the hearing location.

The line to give testimony was more than five blocks long. 

The changes to the administrative rules were canceled and Oregon homeschoolers gained the respect of the Legislature.

Even so, the Department of Education continued its efforts to “tighten up” the homeschool regulations.

In 1997, standing on the principle that government should not have a role in the way families choose to educate their children, OCEANetwork submitted a “total freedom” homeschool bill. 

The Governor vetoed it.

By God’s grace, during the next legislative session [note: 1999], lobbyists that had typically come against such efforts in the past [Note: COSA: Confederation of School Administrators; OSBA: Oregon School Board Association] sided with homeschool parents. 

Homeschoolers had to compromise in the process, but the bill was still an improvement in the homeschool law.

Though not the total freedom we had hoped for, the 1999 law greatly increased freedom for homeschoolers in Oregon. 

The 1999 law put many of the homeschool rules into statute where the Department of Education could not change them [Note: 15th percentile passing grade on achievement tests], decreased the burden of achievement testing [Note: 12 times -4 times] and provided additional freedoms for families of children with special needs.

And by God’s grace the Governor signed it!

These are just a few of the battles that OCEANetwork has engaged in on behalf of homeschoolers in Oregon, and our work continues! 

The OCEANetwork Freedom Watch Team works diligently year-round to monitor proposed legislation, watch the Department of Education for changes to the administrative rules, and engage with local Educational Service Districts [Note: ESDs] who mis-interpret the homeschool law.

OCEANetwork continues to protect and expand the freedom to educate our children as we see fit and promote independent, parent-led home instruction. 

The freedoms that Oregon homeschoolers now have were bought by the diligence and courage of those who went before us, and there’s still more progress to be made. 

In the words of Ronald Regan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

As we look to the future, we invite you to join OCEANetwork and resolve to protect the freedoms so courageously earned by generations past and we urge you to stand with OCEANetwork to help preserve those freedoms for the generations to come.