Originally Sent: 1/28/2014

From the HSLDA e-lert service…
Home School Legal Defense Association

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Crucial Week to Stop Attack on Faith-Based Homeschooling

Homeschooling in Virginia

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Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state. He and his wife homeschooled their children.
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

This is the crucial week when the House Rules Committee may decide to protect your freedom by voting “no” on HJ 92 or move toward restricting faith-based homeschool families by voting “yes.” The Committee is expected to meet this Friday, January 31.

Lobbyists who want to reduce your freedom have been visiting lawmakers urging them to support HJ 92. Will you help counteract their influence?

We need your voice this week to help fill Richmond with the message that freedom is priority number one, and that HJ 92 should be stopped!

Action Requested

1. Find out who your delegate is! Use this link. If your delegate is on the Rules Committee (see list of members below) please:

2. Pay a personal visit to your delegate before Friday. Explain in your own words why you are opposed to HJ 92, and ask your delegate to vote against it. Delegates pay attention to their constituents! The offices of all delegates are located in the General Assembly Building, 910 Capitol St., Richmond. Here is a link to directions and parking suggestions. Before you go, take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with the issues by reading the background section below and the talking points.

3. If it just won’t work for you to visit your delegate in person, place a phone call to your delegate. The phone numbers are listed below. Your message can be as simple as “I am one of your constituents. Please vote NO on HJ 92. No study is needed of the religious exemption. It has been a cornerstone of religious freedom in Virginia for 37 years.” Or you can make your own message using information in this e-lert.

4. Mark your calendar to come to Richmond on February 4. I plan to visit the office of every committee member that morning. Is your delegate on the committee? If so, it will be incredibly helpful if you, their constituent, come with me. We will go as a group and visit each member of the committee. Together we can multiply our impact! I will send details about time and location later this week. This HLSDA event is independent of but on the same day as the Capitol Day sponsored by Home Educator’s Association of Virginia. The HSLDA event will be canceled if the committee kills HJ 92 on Friday. The HEAV event will go forward regardless.

Contact Information

Steven Landes (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1025
Email: DelSLandes@house.virginia.gov

M. Kirkland Cox (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1066
Email: DelKCox@house.virginia.gov

Terry Kilgore (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1001
Email: DelTKilgore@house.virginia.gov

R. Lee Ware (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1065
Email: DelLWare@house.virginia.gov

S. Chris Jones (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1076
Email: DelCJones@house.virginia.gov

Robert D. Orrock (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1054
Email: DelBOrrock@house.virginia.gov

Barry D. Knight (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1081
Email: DelBKnight@house.virginia.gov

Riley E. Ingram (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1062
Email: DelRIngram@house.virginia.gov

Jimmie Massie (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1072
Email: DelJMassie@house.virginia.gov

Gregory Habeeb (R)
Phone: (804) 698-1008
Email: DelGHabeeb@house.virginia.gov

Johnny S. Joannou (D)
Phone: (804) 698-1079
Email: DelJJoannou@house.virginia.gov

Kenneth R. Plum (D)
Phone: (804) 698-1036
Email: DelKPlum@house.virginia.gov

Algie Howell, Jr. (D)
Phone: (804) 698-1090
Email: DelAHowell@house.virginia.gov

David J. Toscano (D)
Phone: (804) 698-1057
Email: DelDToscano@house.virginia.gov

Background

A study by Dr. Brian Ray showed that students homeschooled under the religious exemption score 33 percentile points higher than others on standardized tests.

The study itself would place an administrative burden on the state Department of Education and local school boards. But the measure provides no funds to cover these additional expenses. It is an unfunded mandate.

No study is necessary. All five of the questions that HJ 92 proposes can be answered without a study.

The first question is how school boards decide if an exemption should be granted. The simple answer is that they follow the clear requirements of the statute.

The second question is whether school boards ever review their decisions. The answer is simple. Laws already on the books would allow a school board to review its decision if there is a good reason to review it.

The third question is whether school boards require an exemption to be renewed. The simple answer is that some do and some don’t.

The fourth question is whether school boards monitor the education of exempted students. The simple answer is no. They are exempt from all government education mandates.

The fifth question is whether the religious exemption statute should be amended to better carry out the state’s duty under the Virginia Constitution to provide free public education and compulsory attendance. This question shows that Del. Rust, who sponsored HJ 92, does not understand the Virginia Constitution.

The simple answer is that the religious exemption statute was never intended to implement the public education-compulsory attendance sections of the Constitution. It was intended to implement a far older, and far more foundational part of the Constitution: Article 1, Section 15, which guarantees the free exercise of religion.

One homeschool graduate recently criticized the religious exemption statute claiming that because it allowed his parents to homeschool him without government mandates, he had to take remedial classes when he enrolled in community college. This complaint does not hold water. Sixty percent of all community college students take at least one remedial or developmental class. And despite the education he got at home, now he attends Georgetown University, one of the nation’s top 25.

Between 1976 when the religious exemption statute was enacted and 1984 when the home instruction statute was enacted, religious exemption was the only way to homeschool legally. It’s not likely, but if the home instruction statute were ever repealed, the religious exemption statute would still allow families to homeschool their children if they believe that enrolling their children in public school is against God’s will for them.

A number of Virginia Amish families stop providing formal education to their children once they finish 8th grade. These families could be in danger of criminal prosecution if the religious exemption statute is threatened. Many other deeply religious families place such an emphasis on separation from the state that they would refuse to file a notice of intent if the religious exemption were not available. They, too, could be in danger of prosecution if the exemption is threatened.

The religious exemption statute works so well and with so little controversy that during its 37 years of operation, it has generated only one lawsuit that has come before the Virginia appellate courts.

Legislative studies are often used to clear the path so more laws can be enacted. It’s obvious that Del. Rust’s real plan is to use the results of the study (if it is conducted) to somehow support him in trying to take away some of your rights in the future.

Our webpage for HJ 92 provides a link to additional talking points about HJ 92.

The Home Educators Association of Virginia, the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, and HSLDA are united in opposing HJ 92.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom!

Sincerely,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Senior Counsel

P.S. We greatly value you and your support—it is a privilege to serve you! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>

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Home School Legal Defense Association • P.O. Box 3000 • Purcellville, Virginia 20134-9000
Phone: (540) 338-5600 • Fax: (540) 338-2733 • Email: info@hslda.org
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