I wanted to give a quick update on HB832, the Homeschool Advisory Council bill. The hearing on the bill is this Thursday, March 3. The hearing starts at 1pm, but there are other bills and we may not be first. As I’ve been saying, I think that a public hearing is important because of the intense interest in this bill. After I’ve had a chance to hear the testimony at the hearing, I’ll decide whether to withdraw the bill or try to move forward with it.
I’ve been busy meeting with people from the homeschool community and hearing their concerns, as well as reading many messages. I’ve been working on a series of amendments that I think will address many of the concerns if we do move forward with the bill.
The biggest concern that I’ve heard is that the council wouldn’t be representative of all homeschoolers. I’ve made a few changes to try to improve that. I added a public application process, so that anyone can apply to be on the council. I removed the specific seats for different county groupings and for parents homeschooling special needs & gifted students. Instead, the amendments state that the council should:
- reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the state
- represent geographic diversity, including rural, suburban, and urban residents
- represent a variety of homeschooling methods
- include those homeschooling for both religious and secular reasons
And because even with these changes, any council can’t possibly represent everyone, the amendments require the council to hold public town halls where homeschool families can share their opinions and speak about issues of concern to them.
The amendments also remove the statement about “gathering information.” Although this was never intended to be intrusive data collection – it was just supposed to be surveys that homeschool parents could choose to answer about their opinions – I hear the concern about it, so I removed it.
If you’d like to submit written testimony for the hearing or sign up to speak, you must sign up tomorrow (Tuesday) between 8 am and 3 pm. Every bill is limited to 50 witnesses testifying orally, but there’s no limit on written testimony, so I encourage you to submit written testimony. If you testify orally, you’ll have 2 minutes to speak.
Here are the witness guidelines for the Ways and Means committee
You can sign up or submit written testimony here