From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


11/12/2002 2:47:24 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Puerto Rico--Update: Legislature Holds Hearings on Homeschool Bill

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

November 12, 2002

A legislative hearing on H.P. 3048 was conducted on November 6, 2002,
at the capitol in San Juan. It was estimated that over 300
homeschooling parents attended. Several homeschool children
peacefully carried placards in front of the capitol building
protesting the bill. The hearing room was packed to overflowing, as
many of the homeschoolers could not get in to hear the testimony of


The Chairman of the Education & Culture Committee, Jose Javier Garcia
Caban, is also the author of the bill. Mr. Garcia Caban chaired the
meeting and it appears he is the primary mover behind this attempt to
regulate homeschooling in Puerto Rico. In his interaction with the
homeschoolers he informed them that whether they liked it or not,
they were going to have legislation. In an emotional speech he
declared that Puerto Rico needed to know who the homeschoolers were
and needed to be assured that homeschool children's educational needs
were met. He indicated that the bill that he had authored was simply
a beginning step toward regulation and he invited the homeschoolers
to participate with him by telling him what they wanted and didn't
want in the legislation. He hinted that he was willing to compromise
and back off some of the more stringent provisions for regulation in
H.P. 3048.

However, Secretary of Education Cesar Rey testified that he opposed
the bill for several reasons. By definition homeschooling in Puerto
Rico is a non-government entity and as such is recognized as an
alternative to public education, and not under the jurisdiction of
the Department of Education. Homeschooling, Mr. Rey contended, is the
responsibility of the General Education Council, which has
jurisdiction over private schools in Puerto Rico.

Pablo Rivera, Assistant Secretary in Charge of Academic Affairs for
the Department of Education, testified on behalf of the department
that the bill does not establish clear processes in terms of student
evaluation and grades. The Department was also concerned that there
would be an additional workload without the necessary resources to
carryout the responsibilities. This would involve creating new
offices and hiring more employees without the appropriate funding to
do so. The bottom line was that Secretary Rey does not believe H.P.
3048 is viable and more study must be done.

This testimony was followed by several homeschoolers pointing out
that there was no need to regulate homeschooling in Puerto Rico and
that the proposed bill was too stringent. Responding to this
testimony, Mr. Garcia Caban again delivered a long speech explaining
the need for homeschoolers to be regulated and proclaiming that he
would see to it that it was done. He added that homeschoolers could
either cooperate with him in trying to get a better bill, or he would
go it alone.

At this juncture, Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal
Defense Association, in his testimony said that whoever had drafted
the bill has seemingly put it together from the worst aspects of
homeschool laws across the United States. This makes H.P. 3048 the
worst homeschool bill that HSLDA has ever seen, not to mention
unconstitutional. Mr. Smith urged Mr. Garcia Caban to leave things as
they were since homeschoolers have earned the right to be left alone.
He further indicated that on behalf of HSLDA member families in
Puerto Rico, they would not be offering any language to help enact
homeschool legislation.

To read the text of Mike Smith's testimony visit:

Several other homeschool parents were able to testify to the benefits
of homeschooling and the hearing finally wrapped up at about 7:00
p.m. (The hearing lasted for approximately six hours.) Sadly, Mr.
Garcia Caban was the only member of the twelve-member committee that
was present during most of that time.


After the hearing, there was a rally of homeschoolers at a local
church in San Juan and over 100 parents attended. Mr. Smith addressed
the crowd, urging the homeschoolers to remain vigilant in their
defense of the right to homeschool in Puerto Rico without regulation.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a coalition of homeschooling
leaders met and affirmed their position to oppose H.P. 3048. They
also agreed not to help Mr. Garcia Caban pass a bill that would
regulate home education in Puerto Rico in any way.

During a second hearing on Saturday, a witness from the General
Education Council testified that the Council did not consider
homeschools to be private schools. Apparently, there appears to be a
conflict between the Department of Education and the General
Education Council's office regarding the status of home educators in
Puerto Rico.

Mr. Garcia Caban has set a third hearing date for December 3, 2002.
He has indicated that he will be requesting various organizations and
witnesses to testify. Once again he indicated that he would like to
meet with individual homeschool leaders to try to work out the
differences between the two.


If you have not already done so, please contact your representative
and inform them of your opposition to H.P. 3048. Emphasize that there
is no reason to change the current status of homeschooling in Puerto
Rico. Where possible, make personal contact with your representative
with your whole family. Many elected officials in Puerto Rico have
never personally met a homeschool family and know very little about
home education beyond the negative propaganda.

We will continue to update you on the events in Puerto Rico
concerning HP 3048. Please continue to pray that God will preserve
the freedom to homeschool as we know it now.

For more information about H.P. 3048 and why HSLDA opposes this
legislation visit:

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Home School Legal Defense Association
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Purcellville, Virginia 20134
Phone: (540) 338-5600
Fax: (540) 338-2733

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