HR 610 - The Federal Voucher Bill would require all homeschoolers to be counted and would fix a “reasonable amount” for homeschool funding. It was referred to committee, but HSLDA does not expect it to go forward. HSLDA and TEACH CT oppose this bill.
HB 6814 - An Act to Create ESAs was not drafted or called for public hearing. TEACH CT opposes the bill because it opens the door to regulation. TEACH is watching the issue because it may appear again next year.
HB 6807- The Tebow Bill would allow homeschoolers to participate in public school sports. TEACH CT opposes the bill because it opens the door to regulation. Died in committee.
HB 7059 - Vaccination Education Bill would require mandatory education class for anyone claiming the religious exemption to vaccination. Bill was heard in public hearing Feb 21. Died in committee.
HB 7244 - Grandparent Visitation Bill would lower standard of proof for grandparent seeking visitation where parents are deceased or living apart. TEACH CT opposes as unnecessary intrusion into parental rights. The bill is on the House Calendar.
HB 7207 - Delay Implementation of Student Data Privacy Law PA 16-189. Bill would delay implementation until July 2018. We worked on the bill last year as a member of CAPE, CT Alliance for Privacy in Education because homeschoolers are brought into the data bank when taking classes at the community college level for dual enrollment credits. TEACH CT opposes any delay in implementation. Bill was passed out of committee and is on the House Calendar.
TEACH-CT opposes HB 7244, an act that would give grandparents the right to petition for visitation. Current law allows a grandparent to petition for visitation in instances where denial of visitation would cause “real and significant harm”. However, HB 7244 would allow a grandparent to petition for visitation in intact families upon clear and convincing evidence that the parents have unreasonably deprived the grandparents of visitation. It would also allow the court to award attorneys’ fees and expenses to the prevailing party. We can especially see the potential for this to become an issue in cases where the grandparents are not in favor of homeschooling.
This bill is an unwarranted intrusion into parental rights. The bill is scheduled for Public Hearing on Monday, March 13, 2017, in the Judiciary Committee in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building. If you are unable to attend, you may submit testimony at vog.tc.agc@ynomitsetduj. Because this is a parental rights issue, you need not identify yourself as a homeschooler.
Both TEACH-CT and HSLDA oppose HR 610, which calls for sending all federal education dollars to the states in the form of federal grants so that the states can then give the money as vouchers to public, private, and homeschool students. While well-intentioned, we believe HR 610 would be a slippery slope toward more federal involvement and control in homeschooling.
Connecticut also has a bill that could give government money to homeschoolers: HB 6814, An Act to Create Educational Savings Accounts. This sounds like a Coverdell Account, where a parent deposits money for a child’s education to be withdrawn later for educational purposes. It is not. ESAs are another name for vouchers, which take government money and give it back to parents with rules. HB 6814, although not yet drafted in full statutory language, carries the same risk for government control of homeschoolers. Rep. Rosa Rebimbas is the author of HB 6814. She can be reached at 800-842-1423.
►TEACH CT and HSLDA oppose homeschoolers taking government funds. Government money will eventually lead to government control.
HB 6807, commonly known as a Tebow Bill, would prevent schools from prohibiting homeschool students from participating in sports activities. What’s the catch? It would be up to the boards of education “to adopt standards for academic eligibility and residency”.
Connecticut is one of the least regulated states for homeschooling. We do not need to register or to test. How would boards of education determine academic eligibility without testing and reporting? We don’t need to imagine this scenario. It happened in Connecticut in the 1990’s when NHELD, the National Homeschool Educators Legal Defense Association, worked with a student who wanted to participate in public school sports. Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference wanted to determine not only if the child had a “C” average, but if there was equivalent instruction. The 2016-2017 CIAC rule affirms its decision that participation “is not to be extended to any student whose program is not under the direct supervision of a CIAC member school.” Click here to view eligibilty rules. Participation in public school sports opens up homeschooling to further regulation. Let’s block that play!
Our friends in Arizona, Indiana, Nevada and Oklahoma are in varying stages of dealing with the School Choice push that includes ESAs- Educational Savings Accounts. The School Choice movement is coming to Connecticut–a promotional event was hosted in Hartford on January 23.
“School choice” sounds good, doesn’t it? Instead of being stuck in underperforming schools, argue the advocates, people will have choices of where to go–public, private, virtual or charter. And they’ll have the funds to do it because the money will follow the child. Even homeschoolers can get in on the action with ESAs. ESA accounts function differently in each state, but essentially involve funds being deposited by the state for withdrawal by the parents for educational purposes of their choosing. In Arizona, Nevada, and Oklahoma, ESA bills included a 100 day enrollment in public schools in order to qualify for the funds. Why 100 day enrollment? Because once a child is enrolled for 100 days, funding reaches the school system for the next two-three years- even after a student leaves the system.
Of course, because these funds are coming from the government, some “minimal regulation” is required to assure taxpayers that the funds are being used for education. Regulation has involved registration and testing. One hundred days of attendance and testing allows for data gathering.
For some insight into the dangers of ESAs, we invite you to read Part Four in the IAHE series, “The Unintended Consequences of ESA’s–Inflated Costs for All, Fewer Choices for All”.
We’ll post more about School Choice and ESAs in the future. In the meantime, remember that you are exercising school LIBERTY in Connecticut by exercising your fundamental parental right to educate your child at home.
►TEACH CT supports Educational Liberty without regulation by the government.
The 2017 Legislative Session opened with the filing of several bills to repeal or amend Public Act 16-189, the Student Data Privacy law passed in 2016. The law was already languishing for the Legislative Leaders’ failure to appoint the Task Force designed to study industry standards and penalties for breach. HB 5233, calls for repeal of the entire act. HB 5023, HB 5227, and HB 5232 call for delay in implementation. HB 5035 calls for extension of breach notification from 48 hours to two business days.
►TEACH CT calls for appointment of the Task Force as outlined in PA 16-189 and for no further delay in implementation of the remainder of the law.
The desire for big data continues at the college and university level. HB 5116 calls for a Pilot Program to collect data “regarding in-state students that will enable prospective students to make informed decisions regarding their intended career paths.” Similarly, HB 5266 calls for a tracking system to help students of higher education make informed decisions. CT already accesses such data through its P20 WIN Council. Click the following links to learn more about P20 WIN Data Sharing and P20 WIN Data Request Procedures.
►TEACH CT calls for an end to Connecticut’s involvement in the P20 WIN program, and in any additional data gathering.