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2/23/2004 6:26:42 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Old Prejudices Against Homeschooling Revealed in Hearing

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 23, 2004


Virginia--Old Prejudices Against Homeschooling Revealed in Hearing


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Homeschool advocates and education "professionals" came head-to-head
in a Virginia Senate Education Committee hearing last Thursday over
H.B. 675, a bill that eliminates the baccalaureate degree requirement
so that parents with a high school diploma can homeschool their
children without arbitrary government supervision.

HSLDA senior counsel Chris Klicka testified in favor of the bill,
pointing out that according to studies, homeschool children whose
parents have high school diplomas (but no college degree) score 20 to
35 points above the national average. Forty-nine states have
abandoned any requirement for homeschoolers to have an education
beyond high school, and Klicka emphasized that Virginia should focus
on results, not qualifications. He further pointed out that
Virginia already requires homeschoolers to be tested or evaluated
each year. Since homeschooling parents with only high school
diplomas have proven that their children score above average, Klicka
urged H.B. 675 to be passed to end the discrimination against non-
college graduates.

HSLDA staff attorney Scott Woodruff offered testimony about the
difficulty homeschoolers face in individual districts and said that
at least 15 school districts in any given year cause trouble for
homeschool parents with high school diplomas.

Delegate Rob Bell, the sponsor of the bill testified that
approximately 70 percent of parents in Virginia do not have a college
degree and would be excluded from homeschooling under the current law
without direct approval from the local superintendent of schools.

In a previous hearing, opponents of the bill said that homeschoolers
are below grade level when they re-enter the public school system.
Anticipating this argument, lobbyist Joe Guarino with the Home
Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) testified that he spoke with
several school districts and asked how many homeschoolers re-entered
public school, and asked if there were any problems with
homeschoolers. Each school district told him that they only had a small number of homeschoolers re-enter and there were no problems
with the homeschooler's education. One woman told Guarino that she
had beenwith the school for 30 years and had encountered no problems
with homeschoolers' academics.

Opponents of the bill testified against it but offered no proof of
why the bill should be defeated. Instead, they relied on emotional
arguments and anecdotes.

Taking issue with HSLDA's statement that more regulation is not
necessary for better education, Virginia Education Association
president Jean Bankos told the committee: "You have a responsibility
to make sure every child in the state gets the same education you
would want for your child." When questioned whether results or
regulation are more important in education, the VEA president stated
that results are more important. A senator in favor of the bill then
asked why she would oppose the bill when the studies show that
homeschoolers are performing above average. Bankos avoided the
question several times and failed to provide a logical response.

State Secretary of Education Belle Wheelan said it would be a
"travesty" to just let anyone be responsible for the education of a
child. "Teaching is a profession," Wheelan said. "My own son
graduated high school on a Tuesday. We didn't know until the
preceding Friday that he was going to graduate. I wouldn't want him
teaching any grandchildren I have. I love him dearly, but he's not
qualified to do that," said Whelan. What Whelan failed to realize,
in this statement, was that she was implicitly condemning the public
education product. Whelan implied that twelve years of public
education did not even give parents the ability to teach their own
elementary student without direct supervision.

Senator Richard Saslaw (D) attacked the studies provided by HSLDA
during the hearing by pointing out that of course homeschoolers
perform above average because most homeschool families are stable,
middle-class, two-parent families. Regardless, he failed to offer
any legitimate reason why these children need more regulation.
Instead he offered a story from his personal experience of a public
school that had trouble with homeschoolers coming back into the
system. Rep. Bell quickly countered this argument by sharing that
his nephew, a homeschool student, had attended and graduated with
honors from the very school Sen. Saslow mentioned.

"The opponents of H.B. 675 didn't want to be confused by the facts,"
said Chris Klicka. "They just did not think parents with high school
diplomas were smart enough to teach their children without government
supervision."

Senator Russ Potts made good on his promise to HSLDA and voted in
favor of the bill, to the surprise of many people. When put to the
vote, H.B. 675 failed to pass out of committee by a tie vote of 7-7.
One of the supporters of the bill was sick and not able to vote by
proxy. Although the opponents immediately tried to kill the bill for
good, Sen. Potts allowed the bill to be brought up again and passed
over until a later date.

We expect that this bill will pass the Education Committee this
Thursday morning without additional testimony. The expectation is
that that Sen. Houck will join in favor of the bill to vote it out of
committee.

To view a copy of Attorney Klicka's testimony, click here:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=1345


Sincerely,

Chris Klicka
Senior Counsel
Home School Legal Defense Association



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