SB 223 Is an “All-Out Attack” on Private Schools
Cascade Policy Institute urges the Legislature to Reject SB 223
Portland, Ore. — Cascade Policy Institute submitted testimony strongly opposing Oregon Senate Bill 223, which would effectively force private schools to register with the state. The bill would ban from interscholastic activities any school that does not register.
Proponents of SB 223 characterize the bill as merely a “voluntary” scheme to register private schools. But, what the bill proposes is not merely a registry in which a school submits a one-page form to be entered into some database. Instead, SB 223 establishes a lengthy registration process and a vast bureaucracy to administer it. In other words, SB 223 is a licensing scheme in disguise.
Registration is not automatic. To register, private schools must satisfy the state’s requirements regarding teacher qualifications, school facilities, curricula, and instruction time—which must be “equivalent to the period of time required for students attending public school.” Bureaucrats at the Oregon Department of Education will decide whether to accept or reject an application to be registered. A registration can be suspended or revoked by ODE at any time. This is an attempt to erase any distinctions between public and private schools in curriculum, teachers, and instruction. This is nothing less than an all-out attack on private schools in Oregon.
While supporters of SB 223 say registration is voluntary, it is not. The bill imposes stiff consequences for schools that opt out of registration or lose their registration. The bill prohibits any public school district from being a member of any “voluntary organization” if that organization allows non-registered private schools to be members. This places “voluntary organizations” in an impossible position: Either exclude Oregon non-registered private schools or exclude Oregon public schools.
SB 223 would force sports leagues and other organizations—such as National Honor Society, the Oregon Association of Student Councils, and Future Farmers of America—to kick out non-registered private schools as the “price” of having chapters at Oregon public schools. SB 223 would make many private schools and their students outcasts in the world of interscholastic sports and every other activity, denying those students opportunities to participate with the rest of the community and damaging their college prospects.
SB 223 must be rejected. It is a mean-spirited attempt to force private schools to conform to public school standards or face steep social and financial consequences. It violates the rights of private schools and their students, as well as the rights of public school districts and the organizations that provide interscholastic activities to thousands of Oregon students.
Cascade Policy Institute urges opponents of SB 223 to submit testimony to the Oregon Senate Committee On Education, which will be holding a public hearing on March 17, 2021, at 3:15 PM.
Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s free-market public policy research center. Cascade’s mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity. For more information, visit cascadepolicy.org.
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