And What We Have Learned From the 2018 Legislative Session
by Kelli Allen
Our family participated in Home School Day at the Capitol (HSDC) for the first time this year. As rookies, we weren’t quite sure what to expect so we were grateful that CHEWV organized it so that our trip would run smoother. Legislation pertaining to homeschooling was what motivated us to make our four-hour trek to Charleston.
It was a privilege to meet with two out of our three legislators to discuss homeschooling issues that concerned us. They were friendly and welcoming, though one in particular was evasive when it came to discussing these issues. We also visited with another representative who has been a supporter of homeschooling, and we were able to express our gratitude.
What we learned from our trip is that the winds of change in Charleston are constant and quite unpredictable. Last year’s Tim Tebow bill, for example, which passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by our governor, didn’t even make it out of the House Education Committee this year. The Senate’s version remains stalled in the Senate Finance Committee as I write this, and the session is coming to a close. Disappointed? Absolutely, and probably just as much as our kids. Word was that this bill was expected to become law this year. I hear that the Senate’s version won’t likely get out of the Finance Committee since the House killed their proposal. Phone calls to the Finance Committee seem to go unnoticed.
Through my disappointment though, I’m reminded of a truth: “We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go.” (Contemporary English Version, Proverbs 16:9). I believe that we must do what we can to debunk myths about homeschooling, contact our legislators, vote, even run for office if that is where the Lord is leading, while at the same time realizing our plans may not be what the Lord would have for us, at least not for now. His timing is perfect and although I don’t understand the whys and why nots, I know I can trust Him to work out His plan – which is better than mine. Does this mean that we should always quit when things don’t go as we expect? No, even though we may feel like it. I believe that we can be His instruments for change as we diligently seek to secure opportunities for homeschooling families, rid discrimination, and loosen the restrictions so we may “train up our children in the way they should go” with less red tape.
I would be amiss, however, if I didn’t mention the other opportunities that this day afforded: our kids paged during the House session, participated in the showcase at the Rotunda, toured the Governor’s Mansion, and met the wonderful folks from CHEWV who organized the day for us. Getting involved in the political process has been an eye-opening experience, but overall I can say it has been a good one. We are learning, first-hand, by engagement. I’m reminded of all the proactive homeschoolers who have been in that Capitol fighting for our freedoms for many years before I came along, and I’m sure their path wasn’t an easy one. We are the beneficiaries of their diligent efforts. It is easy for me to take that for granted. It’s given me a different perspective about how we have the liberties that we do today—through their endless efforts, battle after battle, until the sweet victory was won.
As a homeschooling parent, it’s easy to just be caught up in the daily demands of our schedules. But I would highly encourage everyone to attend next year’s Home School Day at the Capitol. I had never been to our capitol before this visit; it was a unique opportunity that I was happy to share with our kids. We all came away with a better understanding, albeit to a small degree, of how things operate in Charleston. Your presence at HSDC would speak volumes.
But if you can’t make the trip, there is always the phone or e-mail. It only takes minutes to contact our legislators to let them know our concerns. Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” With the Lord’s help, I believe this to be true.
Kelli grew up in Romney, WV and graduated from the local high school where she was quite involved in sports and various clubs. She had never even heard of homeschooling until marrying her husband Walt – who had always wanted to homeschool his kids. So now they are in their 10th year of homeschooling four kiddos, and what a learning adventure it has been for all! Kelli says that the Lord is using homeschooling to teach her humility, patience, discipline, flexibility, and great literature – among many other things! She thanks the Lord for this opportunity to spend time with her kids and prays they will grow to love, honor, and serve Him with their lives.