Over the last year, the homeschool community across the U.S. has faced a media-backed, coordinated, well-planned attack on our freedom. The group at the epicenter of the attack is a Massachusetts-based organization dedicated to the goal of increasing homeschool regulation nationwide.
This coordinated effort was launched on the heels of a horrible case in California where a family who claimed to homeschool was found to have severely abused 12 children.
A barrage of attempted regulation followed. California, Maryland, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, and Georgia each proposed legislation requiring a government official to inspect homeschool families for potential abuse or neglect. A push for increased regulation has also started in Oklahoma.
Attempts to regulate homeschooling are made in the U.S. every year and are pretty uniformly defeated. They are typically based on a similar, false premise that increased government regulation will improve academic outcomes for students.
This most recent attack is more sinister. Rachel Coleman, the director of the organization at the center of these efforts revealed the group’s anti-homeschool bias by promoting legislation requiring home visits for homeschool families, but then admitting publicly that abuse is not actually more common among homeschool families.
The notable difference in this most recent swath of legislation is the brazen accusation that homeschool families must prove their innocence when it comes to questions of abuse and neglect.
The bills go so far as requiring that a family essentially give up their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure if they choose to educate their own children.
When this new threat appeared on the horizon last year, Texas homeschoolers immediately began preparing for a fight.
Texas-based news outlets began calling for regulation of homeschooling. The leader of a prominent Texas advocacy organization defended the claim that homeschoolers are prone to abuse, implying that something should be done about it. Texas-based political groups called for opposition to legislative candidates simply for being a homeschool parent or being endorsed by THSC.
Last fall, THSC launched a petition to help raise awareness of this threat and prepare for the possibility that similar attempts at homeschool regulation could be made in Texas.
It is notable that both low-regulation states like Illinois and Iowa as well as high-regulation states like California, Maryland, and Hawaii have faced these attacks. So far, each state has successfully defeated the proposed regulation increases. In Illinois, the reaction was so strong that the bill was defeated within four days of being filed.
Texas has one distinct difference from virtually every other state in the U.S.—homeschoolers in Texas are always ready for a fight. In fact, one could argue that Texas homeschoolers have been preparing for this fight for the last 30 years.
In most other states, the homeschool community is primarily reactive when it comes to politics and legislation. In Texas, we are proactive. Every legislative session, hundreds of homeschoolers flood the Capitol to advocate on behalf of legislation supporting the right of families to raise their children.
The percentage of Texas legislators and legislative staff who were homeschooled or are homeschooling currently is much higher than the percentage of homeschool families in the state. Homeschool families are also one of the most active constituencies involved in political elections in Texas.
Homeschoolers in Texas have been fighting this battle and laying the groundwork for the last 30 years. Legislators have taken note.
In fact, during the 2017 legislative session, the homeschool community was responsible for the passage of one of the greatest CPS reform bills ever passed in Texas. After being appointed by Gov. Abbott to a CPS workgroup during 2018, THSC and the homeschool community are poised to pass similar reforms again in 2019.
The deadline to file legislation in Texas was Thursday. Despite the big talk from the Texas media and advocacy groups, no bills coming after Texas homeschoolers were filed.
It would seem they’ve realized that, in Texas, anti-homeschool legislation will be buried six feet underground. It is 100 percent dead-on-arrival.
Let’s keep it that way.
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