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District of Columbia

November 8, 2002

Bill 14-261: Government Grab for Young Children

Author:
Councilmember Kevin Chavous , Ward 7

Summary:
This bill would have made all three-year-olds, (and some as young as two years and nine months) subject to compulsory education.

Status:
The District of Columbia Council's Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation postponed its scheduled October 22 vote on Bill 14-261. A new vote has not been scheduled. The bill has been amended to make preschool attendance optional.

Action Requested:
None at this time. We will continue to monitor this legislation.

Background:

The District of Columbia Council has attempted to expand government control over your children. Councilman Kevin Chavous will be held several "town hall" style meetings to discuss his bill forcing 3 year olds to attend school. He arranged for some impressive people to come and speak in support of his ideas.

The bill was scheduled for a committee hearing on May 20, 2002. HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff and local homeschoolers arrived at the hearing room only to find that it had been cancelled on extremely short notice. They were told that it would be rescheduled and that they would be notified.

Rather than rescheduling a hearing, the committee instead scheduled a "round table." This is very similar to a hearing, but the requirements for notifying the public are somewhat different.

In violation of the rules of the District of Columbia, the round table was held without any notice whatsoever to the public. Not surprisingly, we understand there was no testimony at the round table in opposition to the bill. District of Columbia rules allow written testimony to be submitted within a certain time period after a round table. We submitted lengthy written testimony within the appropriate time period, but we were deprived of our right to present testimony through witnesses. HSLDA wrote a letter of protest to all members of the committee.

Apparently the Council has finally gotten the message. The bill has been amended to make preschool attendance optional.

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA vigorously opposes this bill.

Reasons to Oppose Bill 14-261:

  1. This radical change to DC's compulsory attendance law is unprecedented and unconstitutional. For an outline of constitutional issues, see our memorandum to the DC Council.

  2. Children under five primarily need parenting, not schooling.

  3. Many social pathologies are linked to parents spending little time with their children.

  4. DC already has the lowest compulsory attendance age in the country and one of the worst academic records.

  5. The question is not whether some parents might wish to send their two and thre-year-olds to school; the question is whether ALL parents should be forced to send ALL children age three and up to school.

  6. Many studies show that there is no benefit or that children are actually harmed when they are forced into school before they are ready. (Mandatory Kindergarten Is Unnecessary). Parents know best when a child is ready.

 Other Resources

11/8/02 Tremendous Victory in DC!

10/25/02 DC Vote on Mandatory Preschool Bill Postponed

10/21/02 DC Committee Votes Tomorrow on Sending 3-year-olds to School

5/15/2002 DC Crucial Hearing Monday on Bill to Force Three-Year-Olds to School

4/26/2002 DC Final Town Hall Meeting Tuesday Night on Mandatory Preschool Bill

4/23/2002 HSLDA Continues to Fight Mandatory Preschool in DC

4/11/2002 Editorial: Some D.C. Council Members Want Compulsory Pre-School

3/27/2002 Memo to DC Council: Constitutional Challenges To Bill 14-261 Compulsory School Attendance Amendment Act Of 2001

3/8/2002 Town Hall Announcement
at Age 3 —The Washington Post

6/22/2001 Government Grab for Young Children

6/22/2001 Bill Text

6/18/2001 D.C. Council Member Proposes Mandatory Schooling