This is the beginning of a very active session and legislation is moving at a fast pace. Last Thursday five homeschool-related bills were scheduled to be heard. At 7:30 a.m., the House Education subcommittee was overflowing with homeschool parents and students--so many that people were crowded in both doorways and many had to stand outside in the hallway. The committee heard testimony from homeschool parents and students.
HEAV lobbyist Bob Shanks and I were present at both the Senate and House committee meetings. See our report below for information on what happened and the action you can take to support important homeschool legislation.
Director of Homeschool Support and Legislative Affairs
~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~
CURRICULUM DESCRIPTION CHANGE
A bill initiated by HEAV to clarify the meaning of a "curriculum description" passed the House Student and Early Education subcommittee unanimously. HB 1208, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-James City/York County), will limit the required curriculum description to "a list of subjects" to be studied during the coming year. This legislation will clarify the meaning of a curriculum description and provide a consistent application of the annual curriculum description requirement in all school districts.
Delegate Pogge, a former homeschool parent herself, presented the bill from her personal experience. With her knowledge of home education, she was able to address opposition from the Virginia Education Association (VEA) who argued we were trying to lower educational standards. She refuted their objections by reminding the committee we were not attempting to remove anything from the statute, but simply clarifying the requirement. I addressed the committee on behalf of HEAV and asked that the delegates help bring consistency in the application of the law. The unanimous vote came just before the committee adjourned.
The Senate version of the curriculum description bill, SB 564, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-Loudoun/Prince William), was scheduled for consideration the same morning in the Senate Education and Health committee. Although we waited almost three hours, our bill was not heard because of a very long docket and extensive testimony.
Action: We expect HB 1208 to be heard before the House Education committee on Monday, January 30. The hearing will take place at 9 a.m. in House Room C.
SB 564 will be on the docket again Thursday in Senate room B at 8:30 a.m. We appreciate your prayers for both of these hearings.
In the first step of a long process, the same House Education subcommitte amended the sports access bill, HB 947, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville), and then passed the amended bill with a 6-2 vote. The amendment added a sunset provision that would discontinue the provisions of the bill by June 2017 unless further legislative action is taken. HB 947 will allow homeschooled students to try out for public school sports.
The hearing room was packed to overflowing. After several parents testified, two homeschooled students presented their reasons for access to interscholastic activities. Homeschooled student Jeffrey Wrobel explained how he will not be able to compete with his rowing club teammates in competitions governed by the Virginia High School League. Seven-year-old Nathaniel Youhas shared many of his academic accomplishments as a young homeschooler and told the committee that he wanted to be able to play sports with his public school friends when they get older. After his testimony, Nathaniel received a round of applause from everyone in the room, including the legislators.
Two similar sports access bills, , patroned by Delegate Randy Minchew (R-Frederick/Loudoun) and , patroned by Delegate David Ramadan (R-Loudoun/Prince William), were tabled, and the delegates became co-patrons on Delegate Bell's bill.
|Legislators discuss sports access.|
Action: HB 947 will be presented before the full Education Committee on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. The committee will meet on the ninth Floor of the General Assembly Building in the House Appropriations room.
Delegate Bell believes it is crucial for those who support the bill to attend the committee meeting. If the bill passes the House Education Committee on Wednesday, it will go before the full House for a vote, and then repeat the process on the Senate side. Governor Bob McDonnell has expressed his support for this legislation. HEAV is neutral on sports access legislation.
Your membership and donations to HEAV enable us to continue monitoring legislation and help us to guard and promote homeschooling freedoms.