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3/21/2005 11:23:42 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Texas--Legislative Update

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 18, 2005


Texas--Legislative Update


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

The work continues in Austin to protect your right to homeschool.
HSLDA Legislative Counsel Tom Sanders has been lobbying many Senators
and Representatives on a number of important bills this year.


Removing Discrimination in College Scholarships

Representative Howard has introduced a good bill that will prohibit
state universities and the State of Texas from discriminating against
homeschoolers when granting scholarships for college tuition.
Unfortunately, the original language in the bill used the term "home
school." We have talked with the sponsor and he is willing to change
it to "private schools that operate in the home." This will make clear
the intent of the legislature to prevent discrimination in granting
scholarships to homeschoolers, and at the same time keep the term
"home school" from being included in the statute.

HSLDA is working very hard to ensure that the word "home school" does
not appear in any bills. The Texas Supreme Court in Leeper v.
Arlington indicated that the proper term for homeschooling is "private
schooling." We want to keep it that way to ensure maximum protection
and freedom for homeschoolers in the state of Texas.


Extracurricular Public School Programs for Homeschoolers

Representative McCall has introduced House Bill 386, which would give
homeschool students access to extracurricular activities and academic
classes at the local public school. Although the sponsor has good
intentions, we believe it could lead to the regulation of
homeschoolers. Therefore, we oppose the bill at this time.


State Wide Tracking System of All Children

Representative Leibowitz introduced House Bill 890, which requires the
State Commissioner of Education to create a student tracking system
covering all school districts in the state. The system would track
information such as enrollment, attendance, and academic reasons for
leaving school, plus many other demographics. HSLDA opposes this bill,
and has met with several Representatives who have told us that this
bill should not be supported.


Texas NextStep Scholarship Program

Representative Goolsby has introduced House Bill 1521. This bill would
create the Texas NextStep scholarship program, which would provide a
grant to eligible homeschool students enrolled in two-year colleges in
Texas. We believe this bill is acceptable, as long as the term "home
school" is removed. We have received some assurances from the sponsor
that he will do so.


Child Welfare Reform Backfires

Senator Nelson has introduced Senate Bill 6. Despite the opposition
and the many calls received from homeschoolers, the bill has passed
both the committee and the full Senate. While this bill makes some
needed reforms to the child welfare law it also removes some of the
freedoms of Texas families.

S.B. 6 makes it a criminal offense for any person to interfere in a
departmental investigation. It is feasible that if a parent refuses to
let a social worker interview their child, this could be interpreted
as interference in the investigation. The bill does not balance the
social worker's duties with parents' constitutional rights.

Furthermore, this bill would allow unannounced visits and monitoring
by social workers of families with adopted children. We believe that
once a child is adopted it has the same rights as any of your
biological children. Therefore, since social workers have no authority
to monitor the biological children of a particular family they should
not able to monitor adopted children. HSLDA will continue to oppose
this bill, and is planning to send an e-lert urging you to call your
state representative to defeat the bill or amend the harmful portions.


Good Child Welfare Reform

Representative Dutton has introduced a bill, presently in committee,
which would make important and needed reforms in the child welfare
system. These changes would give parents more protection and would
recognize their constitutional and statutory rights to raise their
children if the parents are challenged by state authorities. We
support this bill and will be urging everyone to contact their
representative soon to voice their support.

This legislation and many more bills are being watched by HSLDA. We
will continue to keep you updated on a weekly basis during the rest of
the legislative session.

Sincerely,


Christopher J. Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel



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-> How many news articles did you read this morning over your
oatmeal?

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