Can Parents Be Trusted?

by | Feb 16, 2016 | News

Mike Donnelly, attorney for HSLDA, has been present at committee meetings involving the passage of HB 4175 the Homeschool Modernization Bill.  Last Thursday the Senate Education Committee briefly discussed the bill in the short time left towards the end of the meeting.  These were Mr. Donnelly’s thoughts on the brief discussion:

I listened with some incredulity as one Democrat legislator (Senator Beach) criticized the bill because it might possibly allow “Hungarian parents who don’t speak English and who aren’t citizens yet” to homeschool?! Senator Romano appeared very skeptical about trusting parents to educate their children without annual state oversight. He even joked—at least I hope he was joking—at one point that maybe homeschooling should be eliminated as an option.

In spite of this rhetoric from opponents of the bill, the main concern for a number of committee members appeared to be a sense of queasiness about not requiring parents to have some kind of public school-approved qualification (e.g. high school diploma or GED) in order to be able to home educate their own children.

While it is true that most parents do have a state-issued high school diploma or the equivalent, there are many who do not—and as we graduate more homeschoolers (who don’t have state-issued diplomas) that number is increasing. These parents also include Amish parents who may not have state-issued diploma due to religious reasons or even parents who have previously dropped out of high school but have still gone on to gain significant life experience; neither of these groups should be automatically barred from homeschooling just because they lack a state-issued high school diploma.

West Virginia is one of only eight states that requires all parents to have a state-issued diploma or equivalent in order to exercise the fundamental constitutional right to direct the education of their children by homeschooling.

I am working with concerned members of the committee to find a solution that addresses these concerns but recognizes that lacking a state-issued high school graduation credential shouldn’t be an automatic and absolute bar to home education.

Unfortunately, the committee adjourned without a final decision as amendments were being offered to the bill.  It is expected that the committee will consider the bill again at the next meeting.  I plan to be there again to encourage the committee to pass the bill.

HB 4175 is on the Senate Education Committee agenda Feb. 16 at 2:00 p.m.  Now is the time to contact the senators on this committee and give your testimony that homeschooling in the Mountain State is a legitimate and successful option for thousands of students.

If you can, please take a moment to thank Senator David Sypolt, the committee chairman, for moving the bill through the committee as expeditiously as the process allows.

Committee Chairman:;

Other Members of the committee:;;;;;;;;;;;;

Please send them this message in your own words:

Dear Senator,

I am asking you to pass H.B. 4175 out of the Education Committee without further amendment. H.B. 4175 makes common-sense reforms to West Virginia’s antiquated homeschool law by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy faced by families as well as school districts. Homeschooling parents have demonstrated that they are able to produce exceptional academic and social results without state oversight.  More than a dozen other states have passed similar legislation recognizing home education achievement over the past 30 years.

I understand that some members of the committee have raised concerns about removing the requirement that a parent have a high school diploma or GED.  West Virginia is one of only eight states that requires a parent to show a state-issued credential in order to exercise their fundamental constitutional rights. There are some parents, such as those who were homeschooled in West Virginia or in other states, Amish families, and those who chose to drop out of school but have gone on to gain sufficient life experience and knowledge, who should not be automatically and absolutely barred from home education. Research and practical experience over the decades have shown that that there is virtually no relation to how well a homeschooled student performs and the parents’ education or credentials.

West Virginia parents can and should be trusted to make educational decisions for their children without unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles.  H.B. 4175 is step in that direction. Please vote for H.B. 4175 without further substantive amendment.  Thank you for your service to the families of West Virginia.

For further background of this bill, please see other News Articles on the CHEWV website which explain the background of this bill.