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Regulation of Private Schools to be Debated
The independence of Private Schools is at Risk

Many years ago, voluntary private school registration was administered by the Oregon Dept. of Education so that student teaching could take place in registered private schools and teachers in private schools could maintain their licenses. That licensing rule was eliminated in 2009. Then Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction, Suzan Castillo, asked the Oregon legislature to repeal the voluntary private school registration laws to reduce workload and expenditures, and because it did not align with ODE goals. In 2011, the Oregon legislature repealed voluntary private school registration by adopting SB 26.

Currently, there is no law on the books requiring private schools to register with Oregon Department of Education. For Oregon’s Christian schools, that independence allows us to provide a faith-based curriculum in line with our families’ values and beliefs and free from state oversight. But that independence is at risk this session.

The Senate Committee on Education, under the chairmanship of Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) has introduced a bill, SB 223, that would require private schools to register with the state or risk their students’ ability to participate in interscholastic activities -- athletics, music, debate, etc. SB 223 uses students as leverage to force private schools, including Christian schools, to register and conform to State Board of Education criteria. According to some, it threatens religious freedom and parent choice and undermines the goal of private education. It also adds layers of bureaucracy and costs to the day-to-day management of private schools with little to no benefit to the families that are enrolled.

According to some, the underlying goal of SB 223 is to promote the safety and well-being of students. Fortunately, that’s the goal of private schools as well. In 2019, legislation was passed to ensure that students are safe, rendering this bill unnecessary. Following the global pandemic, our students should be given the opportunity to reengage with their peers, not prevented from participating in the extracurricular activities that they enjoy.

SB 223 is up for a public hearing in the Senate Committee On Education on March 17 at 3:15pm.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-12 09:01:52Last Update: 2021-03-11 14:25:11



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