Family Protection Ministries, Christian Home Educators Association of California, and Home School Legal Defense Association have been working hard to defeat two bills in the state legislature. With your help, we have seen partial victories on both Assembly Bill 25 and Senate Bill 2020.
Authored by Assembly Member Kerry Mazzoni (D-6), A.B. 25 would have lowered the compulsory attendance age from age six to five. In response to pressure from the home school community, Mazzoni deleted this requirement. However, A.B. 25 still contained an objectionable provisionit would have required each child attending a public or a private school to complete kindergarten prior to entering first grade.
Roy Hanson and Jim Davis of Family Protection Ministries (FPM) report that Mazzonis office has now amended the bill, requiring kindergarten only for children entering the first grade in a public school. HSLDA and FPM will continue to monitor A.B. 25 to ensure that home educators will not be required to offer kindergarten.
Senate Bill 2020, sponsored by Senator Jackie Speier (D-8) would have required public and private schools to exclude any pupil who did not have proof of health insurance coverage. On March 23, HSLDA forwarded an FPM e-mail alert opposing this bill. As a result of protest against the bill, primarily by parents of privately educated children, this provision was stricken. However, amended language would have required each private school to designate a trained person or persons to provide parents with state-mandated information about health insurance and to assist parents and legal guardians in determining the pupils eligibility for available health insurance programs.
HSLDA opposed this new proposal for two main reasons: First, health insurance should be a private matter for families to resolve. Second, forcing private schools to employ persons for health insurance counseling is an unreasonable demand. This bill would, in effect, turn private schools into social welfare agents, intruding into the private affairs of the family.
After forwarding our members two FPM alerts on S.B. 2020, HSLDA is pleased to announce good news. FPM has just informed us that any reference to private schools has now been removed thanks to the efforts of Senator Ray Haynes (R-36). This is a tremendous victory for California home educators.
Is Testing Required?
As the end of the school year approaches, many parents are considering the issue of standardized achievement tests for their children. Although about half the states have some form of mandatory achievement testing or written evaluation at the end of the school year, California does not require private home school students to take standardized achievement tests. (Home schooling in this state is primarily accomplished through the private school exemption.)
However, any individual private school independent study program can require achievement testing for students enrolled in that school, and some do. If you are enrolled in such a program, you are probably already making plans for that testing. J. Michael Smith