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Virginia

March 19, 2004

Last Step for Homeschool Freedom Bill

Homeschoolers in Virginia have actively lobbied on behalf of HB 675, which ends the baccalaureate degree requirement. As a result, this bill passed the Virginia House and Senate!

We are now waiting for the Governor's signature. The Governor has not stated his official position on HB 675, and HSLDA is encouraging member families in Virginia to send a letter to his office asking him to sign the bill (the bill will become law whether he signs it or not, as long as he does not veto it).

We do not know when the Governor will act on this. It could be after the budget crisis which may extend into April, but there is no guarantee. Therefore, we feel that it is prudent for homeschoolers to send a steady stream of letters into his office in case he acts prior to April.

This bill will help many families in Virginia whose parents have only high school diplomas. No longer will it be necessary to seek discretionary approval from the local superintendent or comply with state SOLs! This bill will bring Virginia up to speed with 48 other states that allow homeschoolers to only have a high school diploma or less to teach their children. It will also end the harassment some families without college degrees have faced from school districts.

HSLDA and the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) had HB 675 introduced by Del. Rob Bell of Charlottesville. Homeschool lobbyist Joe Guarino, representing both organizations, has been tirelessly visiting the members of the General Assembly to lobby for the bill.

The bill faced significant opposition in the Senate Education Committee and in the full Senate. The president of the Virginia Education Association and the State Secretary of Education both testified against the bill and several members of the Senate made public comments against HB 675 and homeschoolers.

Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston) said, "If you are a proponent of children, then you must be repulsed by this bill." She continued, "Parents will have total control of the education of their child."

Senator Patsy Ticer (D-Alexandria) said that HB 675 "defies common sense." She thought only professionals should teach children and that parents do not qualify.

Senator Richard Saslaw (D-Springfield) commented that it was "absurd" for anyone to think that a homeschool education was as good as a public education.

Despite this opposition, the bill passed the Senate 25-15 on March 1, 2004.

To write to the Governor and express your support of HB 675, please go to: http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/va/2004/VAHB675/default.asp