Recent news articles have appeared regarding the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s draft report, which recommends that homeschooled children with behavioral and emotional disabilities have individualized education plans (IEP’s) approved by the special education director of the local public school district. Identifying these students could be accomplished only by mandatory mental health screenings performed on all homeschooled students and presents an opportunity for homeschool opponents to try to place restrictions on homeschooling.
The Commission’s proposal was precipitated by the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School by Adam Lanza. There is no basis for any assertion that there is a correlation between homeschooling and violence. There is also no record that Lanza was in fact withdrawn from school to receive parent-directed home education. A report released by the Office of the State’s Attorney in November, 2013, indicates Lanza was a public school student except for some private school attendance in middle school. He attended public school until 10th grade, when his mother chose other public school options at home. Lanza received a diploma from Newtown High School in 2009, 3 ½ years before the shooting at Sandy Hook.
The Commission still has to draw a final proposal. Implementation of any recommendations would then require passage of a law in the 2015 legislative session beginning January
WHAT TEACH IS DOING
TEACH, along with other homeschool advocacy organizations such as HSLDA, NHELD, and CHN, will be closely monitoring developments of the Commission’s report, and other legislative proposals, and working to defeat any attempt to subject homeschool students to mental health screenings or to deny parents the constitutional right to homeschool their children.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
At this stage, we believe the most effective thing you can do is communicate with your State Representative and District Senator. Make an appointment to sit down and meet with them, or if that is not possible, please call and ask to speak with them directly (not their aide). CLICK HERE to learn more about what you can do!>>
UN CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (UNCRPD)
Thank you for making calls regarding the UNCRPD! We have learned that the UNCRPD will not come before the US Senate before Election Day.
Your calls made the difference—many senators have said that homeschoolers are the ones who are really keeping the treaty from passing.
We are grateful for your faithfulness!
1) Connecticut Public Act 13-3 established a task force to study the behavioral health services in the state. Following the murders at Newtown, this act had as its particular focus the provision of health services for people sixteen to twenty-five years of age.
The task force met throughout 2013 and issued a final report in April. Its first recommendation includes mandated screening for behavioral health problems by primary care providers for children ages 0-25 years old. Parents of children who suffer mental illness stated repeatedly in public hearings that diagnosis was not the problem they faced; rather, they suffered from lack of access to services and poor coordination of services . TEACH supports coordination of care services. We will continue to monitor legislation that would, however, be overly broad and intrusive, such as:
CT Senate Bill 471 - 2014 ( NOT CALENDARED for a vote ). This bill would have required mental health screenings for school-age children. At a public hearing on March 19, only two of the 21 people submitting testimony spoke in favor of the bill overall. Thirteen opposed a section of the bill which lessened educational requirements for those in the mental health profession.
2) Connecticut Public Act 13-178 calls for DCF to provide a statewide children’s behavioral health plan. Throughout 2014 an Advisory Committee has held open public forums to hear the concerns regarding children’s mental and behavioral health. A draft plan is scheduled for completion in August 2014, with a final report to the legislature in October 2014. Video testimony available of some of the forums shows parents once again detailing the frustration of seeking access to coordinated care services . TEACH will continue to monitor the reports when they become available.
The 2014 CT Legislative Session saw the unusual move of a petition by Republican House members to bring two of the proposed Common Core bills to a Public Hearing. These were HB 5331, which would have reduced classroom evaluations and teacher goals, as well as protection for the privacy of teacher evaluation data, and HB 5078, which called for a delay in and study of the impact of implementation of Common Core standards.
If you are wondering, "What is Common Core?", CLICK HERE>>
The Common Core standards implemented in the public schools will impact homeschoolers as well. ACADEMICALLY , the SAT has been redesigned to align with the standards. The College Board has a financial stake in Common Core, so it makes sense that it would align with it. In the WORK FORCE , we have seen the first rejection of homeschooled students for jobs based on a faulty argument that they had failed to obtain a diploma legally recognized in Ohio. (See Homeschoolers Need Not Apply .) As stated by HSLDA counsel, there is a concern that the “college and career ready standards” of Common Core will result in job discrimination of homeschool graduates. In the FAMILY there is concern that the data tracking that is a large part of Common Core will eventually reach homeschool families, via avenues such as:
CT House Bill 5381 – 2014 ( NOT CALLED for a vote ) . This bill provided for the tracking of personal data of UConn graduates, including personally identifiable information. This data tracking was designed as the rollout of the P20 WIN system, also known as the “Preschool through 20 Workforce Information Network”. The P20 WIN system is designed to provide data to “education and workforce leaders”. The bill did not specify the types of data to be shared, the people or entities with whom it would be shared, or the purpose for which it could be used. It constitutes a massive invasion of privacy.
Future concerns: The P20 WIN system was designed at the federal level and adopted by the CT State Board of Education. The P20 Council remains active and it is likely we will see additional legislation in an effort to get the system underway.
Parents across the country have awakened to the dangers of Common Core, as well as increasing violation of parental rights, such as in the case of Justina Pelletier .
We ask you to pray for our nation and its leaders, and to continue to stand with us to preserve homeschooling and parental rights. Thank you for your faithfulness and persistence!
“O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.” Psalm 140:7
We are happy to report that some of the bills we were watching last year died in committee this past session. Thank you for all you did to defeat these bills!
HB 6499 - An Act Concerning Children's Rights and the Results-Based Accountability Assessment Program - This bill incorporated the language of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as CT State policy guidelines. The policies advanced in the UNCRC allow the government to override every decision made by the parent, thereby threatening the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.
STATUS: WAS NOT CALLED FOR A VOTE
SB 169 - An Act Concerning the Mental Health Needs of Children
Would have provided for mental health assessments from birth to grade 12.
STATUS: DIED IN COMMITTEE
SB 374 - An Act Requiring Behavioral Health Assessments
Would have required mental health assessments for homeschooled children.
Thanks to all who braved a terrible storm to testify at Wesleyan!
STATUS: DIED IN COMMITTEE AS OF APRIL 5, 2013
SB 793 - An Act Concerning Exploitation of a Minor
Would have re-defined "physical injury" to include nonphysical "coercion".
STATUS: DIED IN COMMITTEE
SB 877 - An Act Concerning the Entrance Age for When a Child May Enter Kindergarten
Would have lowered the entrance age for kindergarten, excepting only on the basis of a
STATUS: DIED IN EDUCATION COMMITTEE
HB 5534 - An Act Concerning Mental Health Screening for Children
Would have required mental health screening of children at their yearly exams.
STATUS: DIED IN PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE
Thank you for your faithfulness in contacting your representatives!