March 11, 2009 | Posted in Legislation | By

Calls and e-mails are pouring into the Capitol. Even Rep. Mark Martin, a home schooler who is on the House Education Committee, said that he has been inundated with calls and e-mails. He says you can shift your efforts to the other 19 members since he is already on board.

If we are going to win this fight, that’s exactly what we need to do! Keep calling and encouraging your friends to call and e-mail the members of the Legislature. HB 2144 is on the House Education Committee Agenda for 10 a.m. Thursday, March 12. This does not mean the bill will be debated that day, but it could be. We expect Committee Chairman Bill Abernathy to schedule a hearing, called a special order of business, on a specific day and time. This will enable home schoolers from all over Arkansas to be present for the hearing. My staff and I plan to be there Thursday and ready to testify in the unlikely event the bill does come up. Here are more specifics about this bill.

Under this bill, any home school family that misses the Aug. 15 deadline for registering to home school could be forced to enroll their children in public school and not be allowed to leave until the end of the semester.
In order to home school, parents would have to present “proof” that their child has taken the state-mandated test. The bill makes no provision for K -2nd grader home schoolers who are not required to test. Under this law, they would still have to present proof of testing. The bill also does not specify how substantial that “proof” of testing would have to be.
This bill allows public school principals, counselors, and teachers to decide whether or not parents can enroll their child in a home school once the semester is underway. Parents with the means would still be free to leave public school and enroll in private school with no restrictions whatsoever. But parents who want to home school could be required to wait until the end of the semester. This law makes no provision for public school students who want to leave the school due to harassment, threats, bullying, illness, or failing grades. Parents, not public school personnel, should decide where kids attend school.

To defeat this bill, we must persuade at least 10 of the 20 members of the House Education Committee to vote against it. Here his how you can help defeat this bill:

1. E-mail your State Representative, and ask him to vote against HB 2144, the David Cook home school bill. If you know the name of your State Representative, click here for his e-mail address.
If you do not know the name of your State Representative, click here to find out his name and send him and e-mail. You will need to provide your mailing address.

2. Call and leave a message for your State Representative at the Capitol switchboard. The switchboard is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until around 5 p.m. The switchboard number for the Arkansas House of Representatives is (501) 682-6211.

3. Contact your State Representative at home over the weekend. Most State Representatives leave Little Rock around noon on Friday, and some don’t return to Little Rock until Monday morning. If you call your State Representative at home, be prepared to discuss the home school bill with him, rather than simply leaving a message.

4. Contact all your friends, and ask them to e-mail and call their State Representative as well.

Our strategy for defeating this bill depends on a large number of calls and e-mails from people around the state. Our lawmakers need to see that home schoolers should be left alone, and this is a good time to demonstrate this. If necessary, call and e-mail more than once.

Click here to read our latest talking points on HB 2144. This will help you explain to others why this is a bad bill.

Click here to read HB 2144 for yourself.

Here is a list of the members of the House Education Committee and their contact information:

Rep. Bill Abernathy – abernathyb@arkleg.state.ar.us | 479-394-2733
Rep. Nancy Duffy Blount – blount235@sbcglobal.net | 870-295-1386
Rep. Mark Martin – martinm@arkleg.state.ar.us | 479-466-7386 (Mark is with us. No need to call him.)
Rep. Rick Saunders – saundersr@arkleg.state.ar.us | 501-760-7770
Rep. David Rainey – raineyd@arkleg.state.ar.us | 870-382-2003
Rep. David Cook – cookd@arkleg.state.ar.us | 870-966-4703
Rep. Eddie Cheatham – cheathame@arkleg.state.ar.us | 870-364-5659
Rep. Toni Bradford – bradfordt@arkleg.state.ar.us | 870-879-5270
Rep. Donna Hutchinson – hutchinsond@arkleg.state.ar.us | 472-876-6011
Rep. Jerry Brown – brownj@arkleg.state.ar.us | 870-238-3815
Rep. Charolette Wagner – wagnerc@arkleg.state.ar.us | 870-561-4600
Rep. Steve Breedlove – breedloves@arkleg.state.ar.us | 479-996-9712
Rep. Dan Greenberg – rep.greenberg@gmail.com | 501-588-4245
Rep. Tim Summers – summerst@arkleg.state.ar.us | 479-273-0773
Rep. Les Carnine – carninel@arkleg.state.ar.us | 501-682-7771
Rep. Mark Perry – mperry@alltel.net | 501-985-0124
Rep. Linda Tyler – tylerl@arkleg.state.ar.us | 501-329-8644
Rep. Robert Dale – redale70@yahoo.com | 479-331-3503
Rep. Monty Betts – bettsm@arkleg.state.ar.us | 501-268-9254
Rep. Jody Dickinson – 870-523-8222

Go to http://www.arkansashomeschool.org/blog or call Family Council and the Education Alliance at (501) 375-7000 for more information.

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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