11/26/01 6:09:37 PM
Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Vermont--Home Study Advisory Council to Be Voted On Tuesday

From the HSLDA@Capitol Hill E-lert Service...

Home Study Advisory Council to Be Voted On Tuesday

Tomorrow, November 27, the State Board of Education (SBE) is
scheduled to vote on whether or not to create a Home Study Advisory
Council (HSAC). Home School Legal Defense Association opposes
creation of this council.

We have drafted a detailed letter outlining our objections. This
letter will be read to the State Board of Education during their
meeting tomorrow. Please pray that God would guide the minds of the
SBE members and that they would vote the measure down.

HSLDA and the leaders of Christian Home Educators of Vermont and
Vermont Association of Home Educators have had many meetings in
recent months with Bill Reedy, attorney for state commissioner of
education David Wolk. One of our purposes was to see if the home
school organizations and the commissioner could agree on a home
school reform bill. Despite numerous assurances, Mr. Wolk's office
has still not given us a definitive response as to the details of any
changes he would support.

He has decided, however, to push through an effort to create the
HSAC, which is patterned in many respects after a similar council in
New Hampshire. When the idea was first raised, none of the three home
education organizations supported it. None do now.

Under the proposal to be voted on tomorrow, the HSAC would be
composed of seven home schoolers, a member of the Vermont Principals
Association, a member of the Vermont Superintendents Association, a
member of the Vermont School Boards Association, and a member with
expertise in educating students with disabilities.

The HSAC's purported goals would be to:

"(1) Develop and maintain effective and cooperative communication
between home educators and those public schools, independent schools,
and state and local agencies involved with home study programs"; and

"(2) Recommend to the Commissioner and the Vermont State Board of
Education changes in law and procedures pertaining to home study."

- Public schools, independent schools, and "local agencies" have
essentially nothing to do with home education in Vermont. There is
little point trying to increase communication with them. Home
schoolers deal primarily or exclusively the department of education
and its commissioner, and there is already adequate communication at
that level.

- There is no need for a new government entity to suggest what new
legislation or procedures should be recommended. This is one of the
primary functions of the state home school organizations, which have
been doing precisely that for some time.

- The inclusion on the board of a member with expertise in educating
students with disabilities is completely unnecessary. Parents have a
constitutional right to educate their children whether or not they
have disabilities. Parents themselves are the best experts regarding
their children's disabilities in many cases. We question the
motivation behind this effort to draw unusual government attention to
parents who educate special needs or disabled children.

- Most importantly, the proposal would give the commissioner himself
unfettered power to appoint the home school members of the HSAC. This
means he could appoint people who agree with him on all important
issues. If this were to happen, the HSAC would essentially be a
puppet organization, which could significantly harm the interests of
home schoolers. Uninformed members of the legislature, media, and
general public would believe that the HSAC speaks for home schoolers,
when in fact it would simply be another voice for the government.

Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, Virginia 20134
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