by John Carey, CHEWV’s Legislative Liaison
With an excellent reputation at the Capitol, members of Christian Home Educators of West Virginia have been consistently rated by past state legislators as very effective lobbyists. The last two elections, however, have created an influx of new legislators, including a significant number who know little about homeschooling. Home School Day at the Capitol is the ideal opportunity to highlight homeschooling accomplishments to these new legislators. It’s usually possible to schedule lobbying appointments, and as an assembled group we can express our appreciation for past support from those who come to address us at the afternoon rally.
While homeschool students can communicate the value of home education, their parents wield impressive influence as well.
1. Home educators are committed to the truth.
Christian parents who educate their children at home are strikingly independent thinkers who seek to draw their conclusions from well-founded facts and principles. Their tenacious commitment to truth stands in stark contrast to the moral relativism and political correctness of the culture around them. They care not only what their children are taught but how they are instructed, and they take seriously the responsibility God has given them to educate their children. Governed more by what God says than what man thinks, they cannot be persuaded to support legislation through emotional arguments. They must be convinced by clear, substantial facts before taking action, but once an issue is determined to be important, they persevere until their views are heard by those who represent them in Charleston.
2. Homeschooling parents are skilled and talented educators.
They are problem solvers who are focused on enabling their children to learn and retain information, not simply “finish the book.” Through homeschooling, parents develop their own skills by nurturing their students’ abilities. When these parents choose to engage the legislative process, their honed interpretive skills and instructional knowledge often bring an invaluable information resource to the legislative community. Some parents make phone calls while others are willing to meet representatives personally. Some help teach other home educators or write articles for local newspapers. Although our opposition has tried to cast us as “that isolated family up a holler,” they could not be further from the truth.
3. Home educators put a face on the issues they support.
Home educators live in every county and attend hundreds of churches throughout West Virginia. It is true that, when needed, hundreds of homeschooling parents and their children will fill the State Capitol to express their views in person. But there are many more who contact their legislators from their home district. They make it clear that the folks back home care about homeschool legislation and are closely following the actions of their representatives. They also meet with legislators when they are not in session. These parents become the face of homeschooling everywhere.
Yes, home educators have been applauded by state leaders for being effective lobbyists. First and foremost, Christian parents who homeschool are known to tenaciously support what they believe to be true and morally right. They are not only people of conviction but talented individuals who become increasingly skilled and competent each year. Finally, these individuals live in the same districts as those who debate and vote on these issues. Their proximity enables them to put a face on the legislation, something that agents of the state and paid lobbyists can’t do. What better opportunity than Home School Day at the Capitol to put these skills to use?