The push to remove the religious exemption for vaccines has moved forward this year with two bills- SB 568 and HB 6423. Both were passed out of the Public Health Committee. The next step is for them to be placed on the calendars of the Senate and House, respectively.
Please email your state Senator and Representative to ask them to vote No on these bills.
The two bills are identical. They remove the religious exemption for daycare through college and tighten the medical exemption but grandfather those holding religious exemption in grades 7-12. Those not grandfathered have until September 1, 2022 to provide proof of vaccination or they will be unenrolled. It is estimated that 8-10,000 children could be removed from daycare and schools. The number of children claiming the religious exemption has fallen. Many children who are counted as “unvaccinated” by the Department of Public Health do not claim the exemption but rather are simply not compliant with the vaccination schedule. If those children are removed from school, the number of children removed will rise to approximately 30,000. Three legislators asked questions of the Department of Public Health, which did not testify on either of these bills at the public hearing. The questions and response can be found here.
Despite denials by some legislative leaders, it is anticipated that the removal of the religious exemption is a precursor to mandating the COVID shot for children. In an interview in January, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney stated “that a coronavirus shot won’t immediately be mandatory.” Last week the Hearst Media Editorial Board has written in favor of mandating the COVID shot for children.
The grandfathering of high school students currently holding the religious exemption indicates there is no public health emergency warranting removal of the exemption. Targeting the religious exemption discriminates against those practicing firmly held religious beliefs. Homeschoolers will be affected by the bills if they want to enroll on campus in a Connecticut college. Additional talking points can be found here.
Senate Bill 1, Section 1, provides for intrusive data collection on students who withdraw from school, and their families. It passed the Public Health Committee and will now go to the Senate for a vote. Specifically, it provides:
Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2021) Each local and regional board of education shall conduct an exit interview with each student who withdraws from school under section 10-184 of the general statutes without graduating or being granted a diploma by such board.
The purpose of such exit interview shall be to collect information regarding (1) whether the student has a history of trauma,
(2) whether the student’s family has been reported to the Department of Children and Families or any other agency for ongoing stressors in the student’s life or any needs of the student that are not being addressed,
(3) the future plans of such student following such withdrawal,
(4) whether the student has been the victim of bullying that caused a decline in academic achievement and resulted in such withdrawal, and
(5) whether such student is trainable in skills that will provide financial independence.
Each local and regional board of education shall provide such student, for not less than one year after such student’s withdrawal, resources pertaining to mental health services, adult education opportunities and Committee Bill No. 1 LCO No. 5009 2 of 32 apprenticeship programs.
Terms such as “trauma”, “future plans”, “bullying”, “trainable skills,” and “financial independence” are not defined. The most concerning language is whether or not the family has been reported to DCF. Only a portion of cases reported to DCF are substantiated as worthy of follow-up. There is no provision in Section 1 for parental consent to or notice of the interview.
There was discussion that the provision applies only to 17 year olds who are withdrawing from school prior to graduation. Under Section 10-184 of the statutes, such students still require parental consent for the withdrawal. Nevertheless, SB 1’s Exit Interview language opens the door to future inquiries when any child is withdrawn to homeschool. This was discussed in 2019, when a legislator indicated that registration of homeschoolers proposed in SB 864 would allow schools to cross-check their records with DCF.
Please contact your State Senator and ask for a No vote on Senate Bill 1.
1. Section 1 inappropriately allows students to be interviewed about sensitive topics without provision for parental consent or notice, even though statutes recognize the importance of parental involvement in student withdrawal.
2. Asking students questions about prior reports to DCF serves to divide the family. Reports are often dismissed. The question amounts to a fishing expedition. If the school wanted to help the student, they had an opportunity to do so before the withdrawal. Resources for the student can be offered without collection of data.
3. There is no mention of where or for how long such discussions will be stored in the student’s record, or with whom they will be shared.
Section 1 of SB 1 School Exit Interviews is unnecessarily intrusive and invites intimidating investigation that is more harmful than helpful to students and their families.
HB 5044 has been placed on the House Calendar. It is not yet known when the bill will be called for a vote, or the language being voted on.
Please email all members of the House of Representatives to ask them to vote No on any language that would result in the removal of the Religious Exemption for vaccinations- even if grandfathering language is added.
Connecticut has a high vaccination rate and there is no public emergency that warrants permanent removal of the religious exemption. Herd immunity cannot be achieved because of the adults in schools who are not vaccinated.
Even language that would grandfather current holders of RE’s is legislative creep. The exercise of one constitutional right should not be made contingent upon the surrender of another such right.
TEACH CT supports retention of the Religious Exemption for vaccinations.
Please prepare to attend and testify concerning HB 5044 at the Public Health Committee public hearing tentatively scheduled for Feb. 19, 2020.
While this is not a homeschool issue, removing this freedom sets a dangerous precedent regarding parental rights in other areas concerning our children’s health and well being, such as general medical care and education. Additional talking points can be found here. Please do not copy and paste language from our email or the talking points. It is critical that you choose what is the strongest argument for your family and write it in your own words. Click here for steps in submitting written testimony. You can find your State Representative and Senator by using the link in the sidebar.
Please email the Public Health Committee members with the subject line: Vote No on HB 5044. Their emails are here.
For more information on the the decline of disease before vaccines click here.
For information on compensation for vaccine injuries, click here.
For a comparison of vaccines required in 1962, 1983 and the current schedule of vaccines for school children, click here.
For a current list of vaccinations required for preschool, school and college students in Connecticut, click here.
Mark your calendars for this date and be alert for more updates from TEACH CT on the specifics of the bill and logistics of attending the hearing.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (Posted 6.10.19)
Your involvement makes the difference!
The Connecticut 2019 Legislature has adjourned its regular session with no further action on SB 874 and no last minute attempts to regulate homeschoolers. A special session has been called, however, to convene in a few weeks (dates not yet available). We are mindful of the saying that a man’s life, liberty and property are never safe while the legislature is in session and will monitor the special session for any items of concern.
SB 874 originally contained two sections affecting homeschoolers. Section 17 required homeschoolers to register annually in person with their local school district. Section 18 provided for public school curriculum frameworks to be made available to homeschoolers on the state’s Department of Education website.
When TEACH CT and others alerted you to the bill, you responded in the hundreds, showing up at the capitol to testify or to show your support for maintaining our homeschool freedom. You called and emailed. Your testimony, your presence and your contact made a difference. When the bill came up for a vote in committee, Sections 17 and 18 had been removed.
This is good news. During the vote, however, one representative expressed a desire to see us regulated. Let us remain vigilant.
This week Connecticut media outlets published an article concerning the homeschool regulation provisions contained in Sections 17 and 18 of SB 874. What was missing? The CT media once again failed to state that Connecticut’s default mode of instruction is homeschooling. That provision is contained in the first sentence of Section 10-184 of the Connecticut statutes: “All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments.”
Homeschoolers are doing well without state interference, and have done so for 30 years. For more information, watch this video.
IT’S OFFICIAL! The Substitute Language for SB 874 removed any reference to homeschooling. The Education Committee voted to approve the Substitute Language and refer the bill to the Appropriations Commitee.You can see the vote tally here. The Appropriations Committee has until May 3 to issue a Joint Favorable report that would move the bill to the Senate for a vote.
That said, Rep Linehan was very vocal in expressing her belief that homeschoolers should be regulated. We will continue to monitor bills until the end of session, June 5. Stay alert!
We are happy to share Governor Lamont’s announcement of a major revision to SB 874 that removes any reference to homeschoolers or homeschool registration!
The revised bill focuses on incentivizing communities to explore cost savings when applying for construction bonds but does not force regionalization. More significantly, the Governor’s revision lacks any reference to homeschool registration or model curriculum.
The deadline to vote the bill out of committee is April 1, 2019. We anticipate that with revision language in place, it will move more quickly to a vote. If the bill receives a joint favorable report, it will move first to the Senate calendar and, if approved, will then move to the House calendar for a vote.
Your presence at the Public Hearing, your emails, phone calls and meetings made a difference! We will continue to monitor SB 874, as well as other bills until the end of session. As Mark Twain has said, “No one’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”
EMAILS STILL NEEDED! The Public Hearing on March 1, 2019 is over, but it is critical to email the Education Committee members to repeat the request that Sections 17 and 18 be removed from the SB 874. The first meeting at which a vote could be taken is Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
Commissioner of the State Department of Education, in answering questions, conveyed inaccurate information about Connecticut and U.S. law. Please let the Ed Committee members know the truth. Click here for talking points.
The story of Matthew Tirado - the case that has been used as the cover for this move - can be seen here.
TEACH-CT opposes those portions of SB 874 that address homeschooling. There is no reason to mandate in-person registration of homeschoolers. Additionally, homeschoolers do not need “model curriculum” aligned with common core.
Click here to read more about SB 874.
Educational setting has nothing to do with the death of Matthew Tirado. Sufficient laws are in place to address abuse.
Click here to read a summary of the Tirado case.
Multiple state agency failures led to the death of Matthew Tirado.
Click here to find out all that could have been done to help him.
Joint Statement of the Connecticut Homeschool Organizations
Click here to read a response to the actions of the Child Advocate in subpoenaing records of homeschool students.
On Thursday, April 26, 2018, a purported informational forum organized by Children’s Committee Chair, Diana Urban, and titled, “Homeschooling and Communicating with State Agencies”, was held at the Hartford Capitol.
Click here to find out what really took place…
News of crimes against children in California has spurred a move to regulate homeschoolers. While we share the horror over these crimes, the educational setting is not the issue.
Click here to read articles that explain why increased regulation will not prevent abuse.