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9/22/2005 3:44:47 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Puerto Rico--Legislative Attack on Homeschool Freedoms

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Puerto Rico--Legislative Attack on Homeschool Freedoms

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

On September 16, 2005, a duplication of the worst proposed
homeschooling law in the history of home education was introduced in
the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico. PC 1954, was submitted by
Representative Garcia Caban, and has been referred to the Education
and Culture Committee for consideration. The same bill was introduced
in 2002, but did not get out of committee.

Representative Caban chose the most restrictive provisions from the
worst homeschool laws in the United States. If the proposed bill
becomes law the burden on homeschool families will be immense.

The following is a list of requirements that will be imposed on
homeschoolers if PC 1954 becomes law:

- The curriculum or study plan shall comply with the basic elements in
the schools of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as determined by a
five-member board appointed by the Governor. The board members must
have at least ten years teaching experience.

- Parents will have to maintain a register containing evidence of
materials used with educational purposes, writing samples, worksheets,
exam grades, uniforms, students' jobs, vaccination record, and a
register of days and hours of study.

- Each homeschool student will be evaluated by way of an interview
annually by licensed psychologist or teacher certified by the state.

- The homeschool board will decide whether academic progress of the
student is "poor" based upon an evaluation by a licensed psychologist
or teacher certified by the state of the annual register and test
results from the annual examination of the students.

- Each student will have to annually take uniform examinations
created, approved, provided, administered and supervised by the board
and the department of education.

- The homeschool board, amongst its powers, will employ a teacher or
supervisor that will make a home visit to the families four times a
year.

- The department of education will have the authority to establish
regulations to regulate the homeschool programs and the date on which
the uniform exams will be taken.

- Parents must have a college degree OR be supervised by a certified
teacher.

- Should the parents not hold a college degree, they must be
supervised by a private tutor that must be a certified teacher, or a
private school, but the parent must still submit to all of the above
requirements as part of the homeschool program requirements. The
supervisor must have weekly contact with the homeschool family.

- An annual affidavit to apply for homeschooling must be submitted 60
days prior to the beginning of school year.

- The annual affidavit will require such information as: names and
ages of the children with their social security numbers, vaccination
evidence, and a certification that the teacher and all adults living
in the home have not been convicted of breaking a "moral depravation
law" within the last five years.


ACTION TAKEN: Due to the threat to freedom posed by PC 1954, a
coalition of homeschoolers has been formed in Puerto Rico to work with
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and its members. The
purpose of the coalition is to defeat this bill, or any other that
might be introduced to restrict homeschool freedoms in Puerto Rico.

Coalition members include:

Ann Esteras - Caguas
Eric y Nancy Morales - AHEC Dorado
Edna Rodriguez - Gurabo
Jose y Millie Escudero - AHEC Manati
Hector y Carmen Torres - AHEC Bayamon
Jose Sanchez - AHEPA San Lorenzo
Maria Rivera - GAMEH Gurabo
Jose y Jenny Curet - ORPEC Guaynabo
Carlos Perez - HSLDA Rio Piedras

This group will hold meetings and communicate all the relevant
activities through the various support group leaders and HSLDA.

We are in contact with several of the key homeschool leaders in Puerto
Rico, including attorney Carlos Perez-Sierra and veteran homeschooler
Jose Curet. We will coordinate with the leaders in Puerto Rico to
mount opposition to this bill. However, one of the keys to defeating
PC 1954 is to have every homeschool family in Puerto Rico actively
working to defeat this bill. Amending the legislation is not
acceptable; we must defeat PC 1954.

"It's an outrage that this bill has been reintroduced. This is an
affront to freedom loving people, especially homeschoolers," said
Michael Smith, President of HSLDA.


ACTION REQUESTED:

1. Please immediately contact your territorial organization or local
support group. Networking with other like-minded homeschoolers is
crucial at this time.

2. Monitor the HSLDA website for up-to-date information regarding PC
1954.

3. Be prepared to attend a hearing at a moment's notice before the
Education and Culture Committee in San Juan. We will provide detailed
information if a hearing is scheduled.

4. Pass this information on to any of your friends and family who
are homeschoolers or who may be concerned about family freedom in
Puerto Rico.

5. Pray that God will preserve home education by the defeat of PC
1954. Pray for unity among homeschooling leaders and support groups as
they work together to oppose this bill.


BACKGROUND:

On October 9, 2002, Representative Garcia Caban referred a bill, PC
3048, to the Education and Culture Committee. It contains the same
language as the current bill. The committee convened hearings on
November 6, 2002 which continued over the next several days. Numerous
homeschool witnesses testified against the bill. Students and parents
protested outside the capitol before and during the hearing. The
protest was very effective as many showed up with signs. An organized
protest demonstrated the will of homeschoolers in Puerto Rico to
remain free from government oversight.

Unexpected support came from Education Secretary Ceasar Rey, who
submitted a written statement in opposition to the bill. Pablo
Rivera, Assistant Secretary in Charge of Academic Affairs, spoke on
behalf of Secretary Rey indicating that homeschooling by definition is
a non-governmental entity and as such is recognized as an alternative
to public education.

Rey also said, in a statement read by Pablo Rivera before the
committee, that the bill did not establish clear procedures in terms
of student evaluation and grades. The bottom line, according to Rey's
testimony, was that the measure was not viable and he called for more
analysis and study.

The bill died in committee as it virtually had no support.

Michael Smith, President of HSLDA, flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico and
testified against the bill.


OPPOSE PC 1954:

Homeschooling in Puerto Rico pursuant to the "non-governmental entity
school exemption" has served Puerto Rico well. There is no reason for
change. This legislation is an attack on the fundamental freedom of
parents in Puerto Rico to direct the education of their children. It
will be up to all of us to make the argument for freedom to the Puerto
Rico Legislative Assembly.

If we respond as we did in 2002, we can defeat this bill. However,
tremendous effort will be required to achieve this outcome. Every
homeschool family in Puerto Rico must be active and working together
in order to preserve homeschool freedom.

We must also take a firm stand against accepting any kind of amendment
to the legislation. No amendment is acceptable. Puerto Rico
homeschoolers must remain free from government oversight of home
education.


Sincerely,

Michael Smith
President of HSLDA


SPANISH SUMMARY

Debido a los recientes acontecimientos que han dado motivos para una
posible legislacion, se activo nuevamente la Coalicion de Grupos de
Apoyo. Esta Coalicion esta compuesta por:

Ann Esteras - Caguas
Eric y Nancy Morales - AHEC Dorado
Edna Rodriguez - Gurabo
Jose y Millie Escudero - AHEC Manati
Hector y Carmen Torres - AHEC Bayamon
Jose Sanchez - AHEPA San Lorenzo
Maria Rivera - GAMEH Gurabo
Jose y Jenny Curet - ORPEC Guaynabo
Carlos Perez - HSLDA Rio Piedras

Este grupo estara reuniendose tantas veces que sea necesario y estara
comunicando todas las actividades a traves de los lideres de los
grupos de apoyo y las alertas del HSLDA.

Hasta el dia de hoy solo se ha radicado un solo proyecto que pretende
regular el "homeschooling"; el P. de la C. 1954 por el Representante
Garcia Caban. El Proyecto es sumamente restrictivo y oneroso para
todas las familias que educan a sus hijos.

Le suplicamos que oren por esta nueva amenaza y que hagan el esfuerzo
de participar de aquellas actividades que la Coalicion coordine para
tener el apoyo necesario para rechazar esta intromision.

Sinceramente,

Jose Curet
787-594-5324



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