Today, Rep. David Cook asked that his bill, HB 2144, be referred to an interim study. This means that the bill is not going to be passed this session, and is no longer a threat.
I had the opportunity to join Rep. Cook as he referred the bill to an interim study. The chairman of the House Education Committee asked me if Education Alliance is committeed to working with the legislature to ensure that everyone’s concerns are addressed by the interim study. I told him that we are.
I realize that many people do not fully understand what it means to refer something to an interim study, so I’ll explain. The goal behind every interim study is to use the time afforded between legislative sessions (i.e. between now and January of 2011) to review legislation, discuss appropriate courses of action, and determine what, if any, legislation should be introduced in the next session.
We plan to work with the interim study that will address HB 2144 to assess:
- 1. Whether or not existing laws dealing with truancy and excessive absences are being enforced. Many of the school superintendents’ concerns, we believe, can be addressed through enforcement of current laws.
- 2. Ensure that your right to home school is protected above all else. I know the vast majority of home school families educate their children legally and responsibly. We do not want to penalize any family who is responsibly exercising their right to home school. However, I also know the interim study will want to determine whether there are “home schoolers” who are disobeying the law or simply failing to make the effort to educate their children. I believe most of these concerns can be addressed through enforcement of existing laws, but we must actively participate in the interim study to ensure that the legislature does not try to penalize anyone other than those people who are breaking the law. Please rest assured that your rights are our top priority.
We would like to thank Rep. Cook for his willingness to reach a compromise in refering the bill to interim study. I believe that an interim study is the best way to address everyone’s concerns. Despite our disagreements, Rep. Cook has remained very cordial and sincere in all his dealings with us. While we wish that this fight could have been avoided altogether, we are happy that it is now being resolved.
To everyone who took the time to call and email legislators on this issue: I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am. I know that many of you spent countless hours calling lawmakers, talking to your fellow home schoolers, and mobilizing local support groups to counter this bill. That takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Thank you for your willingness to take a stand.
For the time being, this fight is over. We will continue to keep you updated as the session winds down, and we will let you know if anything notable unfolds as a result of HB 2144’s interim study.
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.