HB 2144: An Act Amending the Prerequisites for Home Schooling

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HB 2144: An Act Amending the Prerequisites for Home Schooling
Sponsored By Representative David Cook of Williford (Sharp County)

Summary: This bill requires all home school parents to prove by August 15 of each year that their child took the most recent state-mandated home school test. This bill enables public school educators to prohibit students from transferring to a home school once the semester is underway.

I. This bill affects every Arkansas home school family. In addition to a home school notice of intent and waiver form, every home school parent would be required to provide the public school superintendent with proof by August 15 that their child took the most recently required home school test. Parents who want to begin home schooling at the beginning of the spring semester would be required to turn in a notice of intent, waiver form, and proof of testing by December 1st.

Concern: What kind of proof is required? Will parents have to submit test scores? What other “proof” would a parent have to demonstrate that their child took the test? What about students who are not required to take the state-mandated home school test? Under this law, home schooling in Kindergarten through third grade would be illegal since children in these grades are not required to take the state mandated home school test. Home schoolers are tested for the first time during the spring of their third grade year. These students have no proof of testing because they are not required to take the test. The State Board of Education currently requires home schoolers to test in grades 3 through 9. State law gives the State Board of Education the option of changing these grade levels at any time or eliminating testing altogether. Just a few years ago, the board required testing in only grades 5, 7, & 10. Under this law, if the State Board of Education eliminated all norm-referenced testing, home schoolers would have no proof of testing and not be able to comply with this law.

Concern: What about parents who forget to turn in their notice of intent, waiver, and proof of testing by August 15? Under this law, they could be forced to enroll their children in the public school for the entire semester. This law provides for no appeal process. Under current law, the longest they could be required to remain in public school would be 14 calendar days.

II. This bill applies to every public school student. Even after the semester is underway, current law allows public school students to transfer to a home school subject to a 14 day waiting period. Under current law, the local public school superintendent may waive this 14 day waiting period and allow parents to begin home schooling immediately. Current law allows parents of public school students to withdraw their child and begin home schooling at any time during the school year and for any reason. This law would empower public school educators to overrule the wishes of the child’s parents. They could force the child to remain in the public school even in cases of sexual harassment, bullying, threats, serious physical or emotional illness, or academic failure. This bill makes no provision for cases in which parents believe it is in the best interest of their child to withdraw them from school. This bill requires the parent to apply with the school principal, counselor, and one teacher. If this panel refuses to allow the child to leave the school, there is no appeal process. Their decision would be final.

Concern: Why should public school educators have more control over a child than the child’s parents? Families who are able to send their child to private school are free to leave the public school at any time with no questions asked. Why discriminate against parents who decide to enroll their child in a home school?

Concern: What about liability for public school educators who force a child to remain in their school against their will and against the will of the parents? What if a bullied, harassed, or threatened child is harmed while being forced to attend the school? What legal liabilities exist for the principal, counselor, and teacher who made the decision to force the child to remain in the school?

Conclusion: Arkansas has a good home school law. Neither the Department of Education nor the home school community has brought any significant legislation before the Arkansas Legislature in over 12 years. There is no need for a change.

Vote Against HB 2144: The David Cook Home School Bill
For more information contact Jerry Cox at the Education Alliance (501) 375-7000

About David Cox

David is a former home school student. In 2007 he graduated from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, with a bachelors degree in Business Administration. He currently works as Education Alliance's primary IT employee, webmaster, and blogger. David and his wife live in Little Rock.
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22 Responses to HB 2144: An Act Amending the Prerequisites for Home Schooling

  1. Robin Egerton says:

    I don’t understand something. Each legislation session, we are put on guard against “bad” homeschool bills being introduced. Why are there never any “good” homeschool bills introduced that we can rally around? Why don’t conservatives have has much gumption as the liberals? Why don’t we go out there and make a few “requests” of our own?

  2. Pingback: Home School Blog » Blog Archive » Tuesday Update: David Cook’s Bad Home School Bill

  3. Susan Hutchinson says:

    Over the years from when then Gov. Clinton signed Arkansas’ FIRST homeschool authorization, more has been done to re-establish the fundamental fact of Nature that children are the primary responsibility of their parents.
    Bureaucrats and educrats struggle with that concept as they want the power to determine all that our children not only learn, but believe. Society serves as a safety net for those children whose parents are irresponsible.
    Each time a bill is offered to the legislature, it is
    subject to sabotage, so only if the need is compelling, should advocates of homeschooling offer legislation.

  4. Pingback: Home School Blog » Blog Archive » Wednesday Update on Bad Home School Bill

  5. Gene Jeffries says:

    If a home schooled child is not properly educated, who is to blame? The parents. If they don’t score high enough on college entrance exams who is to blame? The parents. What is the real issue here? Is it that a public school will loose money everytime a child leaves their district? Are the public schools really concerned about the education of every child? What evidence is there to prove this if they are? Do we really want more government control? Government is not the solution. It is the parents responsibility to raise their children, not the state.

  6. Jeanie says:

    I am confused because I googled this bill and it came up as a concealed handgun bill, not a home school bill. HB 2144

  7. Rhonda says:

    Is it best to call or email my representative…also, should I do the same for every member of the House Edu. Comm.?

    It seems as though the original time set to introduce the bill has been delayed. Please keep us updated as to when it will be discussed.

    Thank you Jerry, Martha and staff for all you do.

  8. admin says:

    Jeanie,
    I don’t know what bill Google brought up (it could have been an old bill from years past or a bill in another state), but you can read the full text of the current bill, HB 2144, by going to http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2009/R/Bills/HB2144.pdf

    Rhonda,
    It’s a toss-up. Calling allows you to talk to your representative personally or leave him a message; email affords you more space to communicate what you have to say than a phone message does. I would say go for the one you are more comfortable with (or just call AND email; your choice).

    Thanks!

  9. Carol says:

    This bill would also affect private school families who might choose to leave their school for whatever reasons and homeschool midyear. The unfairness of the situation is that private schools are not regulated by the state. Why are homeschoolers? Also, with the lack of school space currently available in most districts, shouldn’t the state legislature be thanking us for being willing to educate our own children in our own homes, at our own expense???

  10. Kandan Mobley says:

    I sent the following letter to the committee. It addresses some issues not covered here. My concern is that this bill would make it illegal to educate a child that has been expelled or suspended. I do not believe it will pass, and if it passes, I do not believe it will hold up in court. Still, it is best to stop it now.

    Another note: You do disservice to this or other causes by using terms like liberal and conservative. You risk alienating many that might otherwise agree with you on individual issues. My libertine sensibilities lead me to support choice and freedom in all cases which makes me a raving liberal in the traditional sense of the word and not even remotely conservative. In the current political environment we can use all the help we can get on this issue.

    The letter follows and it is long:

    Regarding HB2144:

    I am writing to oppose HB2144. The bill states that a child can’t be home schooled if “The child is currently under disciplinary action for violation of any written school policy”. I would think that the outrageous written policies of some schools would give many parents and politically active children pause to consider home schooling. I likely need not remind you of the recent refusal of the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the case regarding Arkansas’s Watson Chapel School District because the Watson Chapel School District’s “written policies” were in direct violation of well established Constitutional rights and in direct violation of law. Should the parents of those students have not been allowed to remove their children from this district for home schooling? Under this bill the so called “committee” of school officials and even the highest Court of the land would not be able to allow these children to be home schooled under Arkansas law. And even the same self-serving incompetent people that wrote the “written policies” knowing they were a violation of law wouldn’t be able to release those students the way the bill is written. It means that anyone with the authority to write “written policies” could insure that there was no way out for the child.

    In the rare cases that the “committee” could release the child the so called “committee” in the bill isn’t two wolves and a sheep deciding what is for dinner; it is three wolves deciding what is in the best interests of the sheep. Everyone involved in the decision has a material interest in keeping the child in school and is fundamentally biased.

    Having grown up in Arkansas public schools I recognize that there are real disciplinary problems. If I had to go to school now, I would undoubtedly be in constant trouble and never would have been able to have the substantial academic and cultural success I have had; you see, I had a big mouth, unquenchable intellect, and I didn’t let people pick on me. School has become so up-tight and micromanaged that any gifted or out spoken youth can easily be classified as a trouble maker and basically have their future ruined by bureaucrats. I assure you, teachers, principals, and administrators can, do, and will have grudges against specific students. Any one that argues to the contrary is either deluded, completely naive, or out right lying. I’ve seen many students get labeled at an early age as well as later in age, even in college. This bill would presume to put the same people, the administration, in charge of the “problem” that caused the problem.

    Furthermore, what would it accomplish to refuse a parents request to remove their child from the school system? Keep the child in school so then he could be expelled? Gee, that would really fix it. The only difference between this and home schooling is that then no one is responsible for the education of the child; they have all washed their hands of him. And, as far as truancy and absenteeism goes, this bill would insure that a child had to stay in school even though they wouldn’t get any credit for their attendance, since they won’t receive credit for courses with excessive absenteeism. That doesn’t fix disciplinary problems; it creates them. I would think that a family would be encouraged to home school at that point. I’m trying to figure out if this is a desire for more money because of attendance, a desire for control and punishment, or some sick combination of both. This bill has nothing to do with real discipline or the education of our youth and we already have mechanisms in place to address educational neglect (which, by the way, this bill doesn’t even address.)

    School control over children already far exceeds parents’ time with them. In an average school day: 1 hr morning preparation; 2 hrs waiting, loading, and unloading a bus; 7.5 hrs in school; 3 hrs homework. That is 13.5 hrs. Once you add in 8 hrs of sleep that leaves a whopping 2.5 hrs. for extracurricular activities and family time. The unstructured play, recreational reading, and arts exposure that study after study shows is vital to a proper education is removed by the current system. I’ve only been out of school for 18 years, but in that time some very bad things have happened.

    We began home schooling our own children because of changes in our local school caused by the No Child Left Behind act. Our public schools have been decimated by unfunded mandates, and an overwhelming desire to teach to the test. I understand the want to fill the schools with those that have left the system like rats from a sinking ship. Higher test scores make the schools look better. My concern was that my children were not being properly educated. I’m not some kind of wacko; I just want my children to have as many advantages as they can and at least as many as I had. We teach full curriculum augmented with serious literature and serious science. We provide for them a full library, trips to large libraries and other cultural institutions, access to research grade equipment such as telescopes and microscopes, access and education in both music and art using real professional grade equipment, and an understanding of the workings of business, family, and social networks. There is no way any school system could educate my children better than I can and if I gave the school system another chance then, under this bill, I would not be able to withdraw my children regardless of the level of incompetence of the system.

    Sincerely:
    Kandan Mobley
    230 PR 1102
    Fouke, AR
    870-653-3062

    Class of ‘91
    St. Paul High School
    St. Paul, AR.

  11. Emily says:

    Maybe Im a babe in understanding the depth of this bill but the fact is, when you research the differences between ‘Homeschool’ and Private school, we found it clear that by registering as a Private School, this elimanated influence by any government with a few minor exceptions. I am a single working mother and this posed the biggest issue with ‘homeschool’ as my parents are both collage grads and retired teacher/would-be professor who would ultimately do the bulk of educating I believe that the law is that homeschooled children must be tought by the parent. In any case, there is little difference in paperwork, waivers and such between ‘homeschool’ and private school however vast differences in the regulations between the two, check it out, should this bill pass, which group is most effected?

  12. admin says:

    Emily,

    This bill did not pass, but had it, I believe it would have only impacted home school students and students wishing to transfer from public school to home school. Under Arkansas law, public school students are allowed to transfer to a private school with little or no hassle. This law would not have affected them–just the home schoolers.

    As far as your point about who is in charge of educating home school children, I believe Arkansas law dictates that parent or legal guardian shall PROVIDE the education, as opposed to actually TEACH. That allows home school students to take select classes from local community colleges or other schools while maintaining their home school status. However, it might be a good idea to verify that by contacting our staff attorney or someone else who is more informed on existing laws than I am.

  13. Kandan Mobley says:

    I reiterate, if you make this about conservative vs. liberal then we will lose. There are plenty of people out there that either home school or support the liberty that don’t agree with right wing agendas and don’t appreciate being lumped in with them. Get your heads screwed on straight and address the issue at hand. If you choose to do partisan pandering then please use a different issue and a different forum. The goals of defeating this and all the ones that have come before and will come after have nothing to do with your party affiliation or the crap you hear from the talking heads on television. I have two home schooled children, and if you didn’t notice, the Republicans lost nationally and in this State. If you make this part of the larger agenda then we will lose. I have a real stake in this and I suspect that others could use divide and conquer rather well on this issue. So, please, voice your partisan politics in places better suited for politics and get off your lazy butts and contact your elected officials if you really believe in our fundamental rights to properly educate our children.

  14. Home Schooling is also nice since you got to always see your kids.,~”

  15. Carlos Kelly says:

    Home Schooling is also nice since you got to always see your kids.,*-

  16. i was also home schooled when i was younger and it is also a great weay to get your education.`:-

  17. i was home schooled too but i would still prefer regular schools.”-~

  18. i was home schooled too but i would still prefer regular schools.”.;

  19. i was home schooled and it is quite satisfactory when providing basic education.*;

  20. my kids are home schooled and they are always performing well in class during their High School years’-”

  21. i was home schooled when i was still very young and i have to stay that it is also a great way to educate your kids “*.

  22. i was home schooled when i was still very young and i have to stay that it is also a great way to educate your kids ;,;