Arkansas Home School Legislative Study Held

The following is a message from Education Alliance Director Jerry Cox about a legislative meeting concerning changes to Arkansas’ home school law.

Dear Home School Friends,

Home School Meeting Held At the State Capitol

A meeting regarding home schooling was held at 10 a.m. on Monday, February 22, in Room 131 of the State Capitol in Little Rock. Representatives of the Arkansas School Administrator’s Association, the School Board Association, the Arkansas Activities Association, the Arkansas Department of Education, the Bureau of Legislative Research, and three members of the Arkansas Legislature were there. Jerry Cox and Martha Adcock were there as representatives of home schoolers and the Education Alliance.

The question before the group was whether concerns on the part of some school administrators and some lawmakers about home schoolers warranted any changes in the law. Rep. Les Carnine (R) Fayetteville chaired the meeting. He and Commissioner of Education, Dr. Tom W. Kimbrell, indicated that, when compared with other public school issues they must address, they did not see enough problems with home schooling to warrant any changes in the current law. Representatives from the School Administrator’s Association expressed concern that some home school parents were withdrawing their children from school and not educating them. They expressed interest in possibly changing the law to restrict the transferring of students from public school to home schooling once the semester is underway.

What Was Decided

The group decided to gather more home school enrollment and testing data and to have another meeting for further discussion. They agreed to establish a small working group to deal with two areas:

1. Under current law, what should be done when students fail to take the state-mandated test? Special attention would be given to determining who should be responsible for reporting testing violations, and what specific procedures should be followed in reporting parents who refuse to have their child tested.
2. What, if anything, can be done to allow home school students to participate in public school extracurricular activities that are sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association?

The Role of the Education Alliance

Since the public school representatives seemed to be uncertain as to what, if anything, should be done to change the home school law, we (Jerry and Martha) didn’t say as much as we could have said in the meeting. In future meetings, there will be ample opportunities for us to offer suggestions and bring up points that support home schooling. As long as we are allowed to participate in the meetings, we are optimistic that they will result in no harm to you and your family.

Our Conclusion:

The Commissioner of Education and Rep. Les Carnine would rather focus on public school issues, but the Administrator’s Association is not ready to let go of the home schooling issue. As a compromise, it was agreed that the group would continue to meet, leaving open the possibility of recommending changes in the law when the legislature convenes in January 2011. Home school participation in public school extracurricular activities sanctioned by AAA will likely be dealt with after issues over testing are ironed out. The Education Alliance will need to continue to be involved in these meetings to ensure that the state does not infringe on home school rights.

Input From Home Schoolers Welcome

Last fall, when it appeared that these meetings might be somewhat adversarial, we thought it might be necessary to involve attorneys from HSLDA, members of our home school steering committee and other home school leaders. Today’s meeting was in no way adversarial or contentious. Rep. Carnine asked that we keep the number of people around the table at today’s meeting to a manageable number and it went well. I do not know if future meetings of this “working group” will be open to the general public. If they are, it would be appropriate for any interested home schoolers to attend and listen to the discussion.

Either way, I want to hear any concerns, comments, or suggestions you or any other home schoolers have. Martha and I want to do a good job representing you and other home schoolers in these meetings.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,
Jerry Cox

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7 Responses to Arkansas Home School Legislative Study Held

  1. Melanie Turley says:

    Thank you so much for going to these meetings and for representing home schoolers.

    I appreciate the thorough update on what happened at this meeting. Thanks for everything you do!

  2. Renee says:

    Thank you for the update and for all that you do every day! We appreciate you and think so much of you!
    May God bless you!

  3. Kori Ireland says:

    May I ask who are the members of the Ed Alliance Steering Committee? You refer to them in the post and on the website, but I have been unable to find out more about this group.
    Thank you for the update and we are thrilled that the meeting went well!

  4. Kori-

    The EA Steering Committee is made up of couples from across the state who are veteran home schoolers. Here is a list of the current steering committee members and the towns they are from:

    Senator and Mrs. Gilbert Baker of Conway
    David and Joan Brown of Knoxville
    Charley and Denise Grosse of Mena
    Tim and Sandy Malcolm of Conway
    Jim and Christina McDonald of Eureka Springs
    Burton and Sarah Moore of Roe
    Steve and Mary Sample of Little Rock
    Bobby and Karen Shackleford of Walnut Ridge
    Terry and Kathy Short of Stuttgart
    Jerry and Kathy Trauger of Delight
    Roger and Twanna Tyler of Lepanto
    Fred and Beth Worth of Arkadelphia

    We recently had a couple step down from leadership from the North Central part of the state and will be looking to replace them soon.

    I hope this has answered your question. It did make me realize we need to post a list of the steering committee members on our website.

    Thanks,

    Melissa Savary
    Education Alliance Director

  5. Maria John says:

    I am so glad that we have someone that represents the growing group of homeschooling parents. I moved to the state of Arkansas about a year and a half ago and I still home school my six year old boy. He is doing so good and homeschooling has helped me be so much closer to him and be able to help him learn at the pace he feels comfortable with. He is now at a second grade level and reads at a 3Th grade level.
    Its hard for me to imagine any parent who would want to take his kids out of public school and think of not teaching them anything. I see kids from public schools who have learned so little and are so poor in their grade level. Parents who don’t have time to be with their kids put them in schools. Parents who choose not to take their kids to school is because they feel the need to be the ones to help their children learn.
    I am sure that if you needed signatures to get feedback from parents who home school it would be very easy to get everyone together and ready to voice themselves. How many parents are homeschooling their children at the best interest for their kids.
    Children have different levels of learning and not all learn the same things. Children like us have different interests in different things and pay more attention to things they like best. My son loves street signs he learned to read at the age of 3. He is not interested in writing stories about going to a birthday party or even talking about those things that girls or other boys might be interested in. He loves bridges and tunnels and anything that resembles shapes and is related with designs. History is the last thing in his mind. Testing home school children would require a huge selection of test subjects. How can you grade and level children all in one test? Public and private schools grade children in basic skills and basic knowledge. Home schooled children are free from basic and are more intensified into specific subjects that would put public school ideas down. The government and all school officials should be proud to have so many home schooled children because it shows how parents really try to spend time with their kids to help them learn.

  6. Home Schooling is also nice since you got to always see your kids.’*`

  7. Home Schooling is also nice since you got to always see your kids.,`’