April 11, 2003

Senate Bill 586: Requires Written Notification for Homeschooling

Senator Gonzalo Barrientos

This bill creates a statutory category for homeschooling and requires homeschoolers to register with the state commissioner of education.

2/19/2003 Introduced.
2/24/2003 Referred to Senate Committee on Education.

On March 11 Senator Barrientos' office informed us that they will amend their bill to remove the requirement that all homeschoolers register with the Commissioner. This change of heart has come about due to the thousands of calls and emails they have received.

The battle is not quite over, however. Senator Barrientos' still wants only children withdrawing from public school in order to homeschool to register. We explained that was unacceptable to single out new homeschoolers. Instead we have urged them to withdraw their bill altogether or amend it into a public school uniform paperwork bill that would require all parents who withdraw their children from public school to sign a form indicating they are withdrawing their child and what type of school the child is transferring to. If they adopt this approach, it might remedy the skewed figures they have on dropouts while avoiding registration of homeschoolers.

Action Requested:
We need your calls to Senator Barrientos to urge him to withdraw his bill. Please call Senator Barrientos and give him this message:

"Thank you for your concern for public school dropouts. However, registering law abiding homeschoolers is not the solution. More serious enforcement of the existing truancy laws is all that is necessary. We ask you to withdraw S.B. 586 and keep homeschooling free."

Senator Barrientos capitol number is 512-463-0114.
His fax is 512-463-5949.
His e-mail is gonzalo.barrientos@senate.state.tx.us.

Be polite yet firm that there is no room for compromise.

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA is completely opposed to any registration or controls on homeschoolers in Texas.

HSLDA opposes the bill as it requires parents to send written confirmation to the commissioner that the parent will "adequately teach the child based on curriculum designed to meet basic education goals." This opens the door for further regulation to determine what is adequate instruction and who determines adequacy. It would require additional legislation to determine the "basic education goals" for homeschoolers.

Senior Counsel Chris Klicka contacted Senator Barrientos' office and talked to his aide in charge of S.B. 586. She explained that their intent is only to help solve the school drop-out problem. They simply "want to protect the sanctity of homeschoolers."

The senator does not seem to be concerned with homeschool truancy and has not indicated that there is any such problem. The concern is for public school drop-outs. Thus, our message has been simple: pass legislation about that problem, but leave homeschoolers alone.

When informed that that we wanted the immediate withdrawal of the bill, she asked if we would "compromise."

Klicka explained the history of homeschooling Texas and that there was no room for compromise. Homeschoolers are content with the present legal climate and enjoy the freedom they have fought so hard to obtain.

The bill states: "A home-schooled child is exempt under Subsection (a)(1) only if the child's parent or guardian provides to the commissioner written acknowledgment on a form adopted by the commissioner that the parent or guardian accepts complete responsibility for adequately teaching the child based on a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals."

Texan homeschoolers enjoy the greatest liberty to homeschool of virtually all the states. Barrientos' office is offering to amend the bill, but no amendment would be satisfactory since it would involve some limit on the freedom of homeschoolers. Unlike many other states, homeschoolers in Texas have the clear blessing and protection of the landmark Texas Supreme Court case, Leeper v. Arlington Independent School District. There is no need to compromise.

 Other Resources

6/10/2003 - Texas--Legislature Now Closed for 2003

3/11/2003 - Texas--Legislative Update: Partial Victory in Homeschool Registration Battle

3/6/2003 - Texas--More Calls Needed to Defeat Bill to Regulate Homeschoolers

Bill Text