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February 9, 2015

Good Bills Moving Forward

Delegate Dave LaRock makes the case for HB 1753.
Delegate David LaRock makes his case for House Bill 1753 in an Education Reform Subcommittee meeting. After HSLDA’s Scott Woodruff, right, suggested a change to the pro-homeschooling bill, it went on to be passed by the full House.

Three bills to improve the Virginia home instruction laws are making excellent progress in the General Assembly. HSLDA and HEAV have worked hand in hand to draft, introduce, and promote these bills toward enactment.

Senate Bill 1403

Senate Bill 1403 will give homeschool families the right to submit a passing score (23rd percentile or higher) on an SAT, ACT and PSAT test to satisfy the year-end assessment requirement. It will also give families the right to submit International Baccalaureate assessments for consideration. The bill received unanimous approval in Senate committee, and unanimous approval on the Senate floor last week.

Senator Steve Martin is the bill’s patron, and he has done an excellent job moving the bill forward. Please thank him if you have an opportunity. His district includes Amelia County, most of Chesterfield County, and the city of Colonial Heights.

House Bill 1754

Delegate David LaRock filed a bill in the House of Delegates, House Bill 1754, that would—like SB 1403—add the SAT, ACT and PSAT tests to the list of acceptable year-end assessments. Last week HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff testified in subcommittee in favor of the bill and it received the approval of the full House Education Committee by a strong vote of 18 in favor and 4 against. This morning the House of Delegates passed the bill by a margin of 77 in favor, 20 against. Now it will move to the Senate.

House Bill 1753

LaRock also filed a bill that will make life more fair and less stressful for families who start homeschooling after February 1. The bill had its first test early on Tuesday morning last week in the Education Reform Subcommittee of the House Education Committee. LaRock gave an excellent presentation of the bill’s purpose to the subcommittee. Woodruff spoke and gave additional support. No one testified against the bill.

However, the subcommittee did not seem enthusiastic about the bill. A motion was offered to report the bill (that’s a good thing), but no one seconded the motion. So the motion died and the subcommittee took no further action at that time. It looked like the bill would die for lack of action.

Woodruff quickly went to work and drafted an amendment to the bill which he hoped would get it moving again. The original bill would have exempted children from submitting a year-end assessment, and also from the penalties that follow when an assessment does not show adequate progress. The amendment scaled the bill back a bit by exempting children starting after February 1 only from the penalties. They would not be exempted from submitting the assessment itself.

LaRock agreed to the amendment and promptly got it into the hands of the chairman of the subcommittee, Delegate Tag Greason. Greason helpfully scheduled the bill to be reconsidered by the subcommittee early Wednesday morning.

After LaRock explained the amendment at that subcommittee hearing, Greason voiced his support of the bill as amended. After a brief discussion, a motion was made to report the bill, and it was seconded, and the motion carried unanimously. That was a huge turn-around from the previous morning!

The full House Education Committee met a few minutes later. Greason, as chairman of the subcommittee, was responsible for explaining the bill to the full committee. He did an excellent job. A motion to report was made and it passed 17 in favor and 4 against! This morning the House of Delegates approved the bill by a strong 73 to 24 margin. Now it will move to the Senate.

If you have an opportunity, please thank LaRock and Greason for their excellent leadership. LaRock serves the 33rd district, which includes parts of Clarke, Frederick, and Loudoun counties. Greason serves the 32d district, which is in Loudoun County.

Also please thank Delegate David Bulova (city of Fairfax, part of Fairfax County). He did not support either of Del. LaRock's bills in subcommittee. After we supplied him with additional information he requested, however, he voted in favor of both bills in full committee.

Other Bills of Interest

Delegate Rob Bell’s sports access bill has passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate. HSLDA is neutral, but it is worth noting that many states already allow homeschoolers to play on public school teams, and it works quite smoothly.

SB 1383 would provide greater privacy protection to homeschool families. It prohibits the local school system from giving out any information homeschool families have submitted. Senator Dick Black is the patron. It has passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

HB 1307 would prevent a school system from requiring a student to disclose his Social Security number—including a homeschool student. Delegate Steve Landes is the patron. The bill has passed the house and will now be considered by the Senate.

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