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1/28/2004 5:11:37 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Urgent: Calls Needed on Curriculum Freedom Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 28, 2004

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

This morning the House Education committee voted 13 to 6 in favor of
HB 675. The bill, which would give homeschool parents without a
college degree full freedom to choose their own curriculum, will now
go to the House of Delegates for a vote--possibly on Monday.


Action requested

1. Call your Delegate immediately and ask him or her to vote in
favor of HB 675. Your message may be as simple as, "Homeschool
parents with high school diplomas deserve the same freedom to choose
their curriculum as parents with college degrees. Please level the
playing field and end the senseless discrimination. Nationwide
studies show that parents with only a high school diploma do an
excellent job teaching their children."

2. Use our legislative toolbox to find the phone number for your
Delegate. It is not necessary to call Delegate Bell, the sponsor of
the bill. (http://www.hslda.org/toolbox.)

3. Pass this message on to others.


The Hearing

Representatives of HSLDA, Home Educators of Virginia (HEAV), and
Virginia Home Education Association attended the hearing and were
prepared to testify, though the chairman called for a vote after only
the bill's sponsor and HEAV's representative, Joe Guarino, had
spoken. All the democrats present voted against the bill. Dillard,
chairman of the committee, cast the lone republican vote against the
bill.


Background

Virginia's homeschool law was written 20 years ago. At this time
homeschooling was viewed with suspicion in some circles since
researchers had not yet established how well students would perform
under home instruction.

Because of this, Virginia's homeschool law was written so that
homeschool parents without college degrees were not given freedom to
choose their own curriculum. It required them to use either a
correspondence course from a narrow list approved by the state
("option 3"), or a curriculum that included the state "Standards of
Learning" (SOLs) for math and language arts ("option 4").

Every year parents wrestle with the high cost--especially for large
families--and narrow choices of correspondence courses, or the fear
that the school district might forbid them from homeschooling because
their curriculum does not include one of the hundreds of SOLs. Many
fine homeschool curriculums are available now, but none of them are
specifically designed to satisfy Virginia's unique SOLs. Some school
districts are lenient. Others have sudden, unpredictable SOL
"crackdowns" on families.

Over the last 20 years, study after study has shown that parents do
an exceptional job teaching their children even without a college
degree. The largest and most recent study, involving over 20,000
homeschool students, showed that students, neither of whose parents
had a college degree, scored about the 65th percentile--15 points
above average! (study author: Dr. Lawrence Rudner) Students who are
not homeschooled score well below average when neither parent has a
college degree.

Homeschooling is no longer an unknown factor. Parents without
college degrees have proved they deserve the same freedom in choosing
their curriculum. HB 675 will give them this freedom.

Thank you for standing with us to stop homeschool discrimination.


Sincerely Yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney



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