The 2020 Regular Session is in full swing. West Virginia homeschooling freedoms are threatened every year, and many of these threats are directed at homeschooling by name. Other threats come in the form of infringements of parental rights or religious liberty, the two pillars that support homeschooling freedoms. With the legal assistance of HSLDA, we will continue to monitor any legislation that threatens our freedoms, whether explicitly or indirectly.
The growth of home schools is still seen as a threat. Complaints coming from public school officials over the last year have continued, most recently from Lincoln County. Even though these unfounded, money-motivated concerns have been addressed in the press by a state legislator, Terry Waxman, as well as by HSLDA and CHEWV, public school officials continue to blame homeschooling.
It should not be surprising, then, if in the current session public school officials seek to motivate legislators to introduce and advance legislation that would attempt to stem the increase in the homeschool population. Aware of these efforts, we are continuing to monitor the introduction and movement of legislation that could make it hard for families to leave the public school. We also continue to meet with legislators at the WV State Capitol in their offices.
The Status Offenders Program
While West Virginia has chosen to use the truancy laws as the primary means of motivating children to stay in school, other states have chosen to see truancy not as the problem, but rather the symptom of a problem – understanding that “making court the first resort” often only exasperates an existing crisis, causing children and families harm that only prolongs their suffering. So, what does this have to do with homeschooling?
The only way the public school system is going to stop lamenting the growth of homeschooling and focusing on increasing homeschool regulations is to come to understand that increasing regulations is not the solution. There is a better way to grow the public school population. That better way is to keep the kids they have while they have them. Put programs in place to connect with students who are hurting. Let’s encourage “making court the last resort” when it comes to truancy.
Homeschool Sports legislation
CHEWV helps advance reasonable access legislation that does not infringe the right to homeschool, especially the rights of those who do not seek to participate in public school activities.
Over the past 15 years, we have met with legislative staff and WV Secondary School Activities Commission representatives in an effort to craft access language which meets our fundamental criteria and then can be safely offered into introduced legislation. I have personally testified numerous times in support of access legislation in both the House and the Senate, pointing out that West Virginia can surely do what other states have been able to do: find a way for homeschool students to participate in school sports. I anticipate remaining very active in this area throughout this session!
CHEWV is committed to protecting homeschool freedoms. We will remain engaged with legislators on many issues in order to ensure that the freedoms of all homeschool families are protected.
Addendum: We are closely monitoring HB 4440, which was just recently introduced in the House. As soon as we determine how committee heads plan to treat this bill, we will publish a more detailed report. At this time, we are coordinating a response with HSLDA, Heritage Communications, and WVHEA, as well as communicating with various legislators.