Home Schoolers Continue to Win In The Legislatures
Since 1982, the home schoolers have successfully changed thirty state laws or regulations to provide greater protection for home schoolers. Many of the members of the education establishment who oppose home schooling did not notice the great gains of the home schoolers at first. In the last two years, the education establishment has awakened and now they have begun to try to make the home school laws more restrictive, or else pass restrictive laws in those states that still do not have any specific laws.
It is certainly true that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Below are a few examples where home schoolers have successfully defeated bad legislation in the past six months.
Since the present legal atmosphere is favorable, nearly every year a legislator attempts to pass a law that would require some form of restriction on home schooling. This year was no different. HB 1265 was introduced and sent to the education committee. Immediately the home school leaders responded by informing home schoolers throughout the state to write and call their legislators and the committee members. In addition, some leaders met with favorable legislators and about 80 home schoolers attended the public hearing.
As a result of the organized and unified effort of the home schoolers, the sponsor of the bill which would have required home schoolers to register with the state, withdrew her bill and submitted a substitute bill to the committee. This version merely mandated a study to be initiated to look into the issue of home schooling. Due to the pressure exerted by the home schoolers, even this bill was soundly defeated 17 to 9.
Under Illinois law, home schools can operate as private schools which leaves the state with virtually no authority to regulate home schools. However, various school districts each year attempt to impose restrictive requirements on home schoolers which are not based in law. In Eureka, a family was informed that they must attend a conference with the superintendent in order for him to determine the “comparability” of their curriculum. In DuPage, a superintendent wanted an HSLDA family to submit a calendar of hours, a description of hours, goals, and objectives for each subject, list of educational materials, curriculum, and tests. Other school districts insisted on home visits in order to verify compliance with the compulsory attendance law. In each situation, HSLDA counseled the families to not submit any information beyond an amended Statement of Assurance and in each situation the school district backed off.
In Oklahoma, home schoolers are protected directly by the Oklahoma Constitution Section 4 of Article 13 which states that the legislature “shall” provide for the “compulsory attendance at some public school or other school, unless other means of education are provided…” Governor Bellmon recently formed a commission to propose revisions to the state constitution which would be submitted to the Legislature. One of the initial revisions added this language to the above quote: “…for such terms and on such conditions as the Legislature determines appropriate.” This language would take away the constitutional protection of home schools and give authority to the Legislature to regulate home schools in any manner they choose.
The Oklahoma Central Home Educators advisory board members, Linda Collins, Warren Heard, and Jonathon Small, helped organize home schoolers throughout the state to write and call the members of the Revision Committee, to urge them to delete the additional harmful language. Collins, Heard, Small and others attended many of the Revision Committee meetings, presenting the home schoolers concerns. On June 1, 1989, a final hearing was held in which home schoolers from around the state attended. After two additional revisions, the home schoolers were successful and the harmful language was finally deleted.
At present, a special session has been called by the Governor to begin August 14, 1989 so the Legislature can consider the various proposed revisions and amendments to the Constitution and discuss funding education. The home schoolers will continue to monitor the proceedings to make sure the legislature does not try to restrict the freedom of home schools.
This Spring, H.B. 610 was introduced by a long-time opponent of home schoolers. The bill would have required home school teachers in Mississippi to be state certified. The Mississippi Home Schoolers' Support Group, a statewide organization, heard about the bill and immediately went into action. Through the efforts of Gerald Nelson, Connie Ball, and other home school leaders, home schoolers from around the state contacted the legislature voicing their opposition to this restrictive piece of legislation. As a result of their organized lobbying, the bill died in committee.
At present, Mississippi has one of the best home school laws in the country since it only requires home schoolers to file an annual “certificate of enrollment” which includes the names and ages of the children, and a simple description of the curriculum. However, the battle is not over. Governor Ray Mabus will be proposing the Education Reform Act Part II which will be considered either in a special session this Fall or in the regular session next Spring. Home schoolers are certain that more attempts to regulate home schools will occur. As a result, the home schoolers will be prepared to swing into action once again.
In the Spring issue of the Home School Court Report, HSLDA reported on HF 928 which was introduced into the Minnesota Legislature. Like the recently defeated bill in Mississippi, this bill would have also required home school teachers to be state certified.
The home school leaders in Minnesota organized opposition to the bill and home schoolers around the state pressured the committee members and their legislators. As a result, another unconstitutional bill died in committee.