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Under current law, homeschool families can use any teacher they want when providing instruction to their children as long as the child receives regular, thorough instruction. Any teacher the parent chooses can operate any way he or she wants.
HB 944 takes both of those freedoms away.
First, it mandates that any private tutor a parent uses must possess one of several qualifications. One qualification is having “experience or specialized knowledge in the individual’s field.” Regardless of how harmless this might sound, the Department of Education would certainly enact pages of regulations and add multiple layers of red tape.
Second, the bill mandates what the tutor must do. HB 944 mandates that the tutor keep records of the child’s work and require the child to be in actual attendance for regular instruction. The Department of Education would certainly impose many regulations and turn this mandate into a bureaucratic nightmare.
HSLDA opposes the bill for the additional reason that it borrows a phrase from the current homeschool regulations, “home instruction program,” and puts it into a statute. This would elevate the status of the homeschool regulations (which are currently subordinate to the homeschool statute, Education Code 7-301(a)) and give them status equal to the statutes, which would be harmful for homeschool freedom.
This bill was probably prompted because an errant public school or state employee told a homeschool family—entirely erroneously—that only parents can actually teach their children. Every time HSLDA has encountered a staffer who had this misunderstanding, we have been able to instruct them in the correct application of 7-301 and no harm came to the homeschool family. The sponsors of this bill probably believed they were doing something good for homeschoolers, but did not get accurate guidance before filing the bill.
02/05/2014 - First Reading, referred to House Ways and Means Committee.
02/12/2014 - Hearing scheduled for 02/28 at 1 p.m.
03/03/2014 - Unfavorable report by House Ways and Means, bill has been withdrawn.
| Other Resources|
HSLDA Article, Feb. 24, 2014: "Teachers Other Than Parents for Homeschooled Students"