Thanks to everyone who has been praying for the demise of HB 3408. Although we’ve made much progress on that front, House members will be deciding exactly how to handle the bill – whether to vote it down, try to fix it, or table it – over the next 1-3 days. We are asking that you CONTACT Delegate Joe Ellington (the House Education committee chair), the majority leader Eric Householder, as well as your local delegate as soon as possible: via email, telephone, or in person. Ask them to kill HB 3408 because it is a poorly written bill with serious negative consequences for West Virginia homeschool families.
Reportedly, the purpose of HB 3408 is to clarify that students who are educated under the HOPE scholarship program have the same legal rights as traditional homeschool students. This would include things such as legal recognition of diplomas and PROMISE scholarship eligibility. CHEWV has no problem with such legal fairness. However, the trouble with the bill is that it places all students who “receive instruction in their home” into one legal category in the state code. In fact, here are TWO key problems with this bill, and BOTH need to be addressed:
- While the bill makes a clear separation between homeschoolers and students in micro-schools or learning pods, it removes the distinction between traditional homeschoolers and HOPE scholar students who use an “Individualized Instructional Program” (IIP). When HOPE was being considered two years ago, CHEWV and other homeschool groups worked hard to maintain this legal distinction so that legal requirements for HOPE scholars were kept entirely separate from traditional homeschoolers. Putting HOPE IIP students in the same legal category as traditional homeschool students would be the first step down a “slippery slope” to make homeschoolers subject to more government regulation. Though the educational method and setting of both may look very much the same, CHEWV opposes any change in the law that eliminates the legal distinction between privately-funded, traditional homeschoolers and HOPE scholarship IIP students.
- HB 3408, as it is currently written, also drastically increases the requirements for traditional homeschoolers by making them subject to the current “Option 1” requirements (designed for students who have a board-approved teacher come into their home to do the instruction). Specific problems with this are enumerated in CHEWV’s previous alert about HB 3408. Bill drafters are aware of these problems and seem willing to fix them. However, the bill is still alive, unchanged, and scheduled for its second reading in tomorrow’s House session. Further, even if these particular problems are fixed, that’s not enough. (See the previous bullet.)
HB 3408 may have been well intended, but it is a poorly written bill that needs to be stopped immediately.