June 18, 2007

Legislative Wrap-Up—Freedoms Preserved

The Florida legislature closed May 4, after two short months in session. Although we tracked many bills that would have potentially impacted homeschool freedoms, nothing passed. God was good!

Here are the most important bills we tracked:

H.B. 277 and S.B. 360 would have raised the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18; neither got out of committee. Thank you for your calls in response to our e-lerts. House Bill 277, which started to move, was deferred in the House Committee on 21st Century Competitiveness. The hearing and vote did not take place as scheduled. We believe your calls contributed to this delay and the bill’s ultimate demise.

S.B. 704 would have required private schools, before awarding a high school diploma, to have students earn a passing score on the FCAT or score “on a standardized test [which is] concordant with passing scores on the FCAT.”

Many homeschoolers have enrolled in 623 and 627 umbrella schools that award high school diplomas. From our early understanding of this bill, these private schools that cover the homeschoolers will have to require the homeschool students to take the FCAT or score, on a standardized test, equal to a passing score on the FCAT. Thankfully, this needless government red tape over private schools did not pass.

A couple of other bills, H.B. 799 and S.B. 2822, would have expanded virtual schools in the state. Homeschool leaders and HSLDA are concerned about the virtual school laws being passed around the country. Every time a public virtual school program starts, private homeschoolers leave homeschooling to join these programs.

Much freedom is lost as the homeschool movement slowly becomes secularized and many controls are placed on participating families. Thanks again for your calls, as these virtual school bills were all defeated!

For more detailed information on any of these bills and more, go to our webpage on Florida legislation.

The best news of the 2007 session was that Governor Charlie Crist issued a proclamation the week of April 1-7 to celebrate the contribution of homeschooling in Florida. To our knowledge, there had never been a proclamation by a governor in Florida celebrating homeschooling.

Regina Hicks of FPEA worked with HSLDA to draft the proclamation for the governor. Regina then contacted the governor’s office to secure this proclamation.

To review or print the proclamation to hang in your homeschool room, click here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Thank you for your vigilance and involvement to support parental rights in Florida and keep your ability to homeschool your children free from unreasonable governmental interference.