Are People the Problem?
by John Carey, CHEWV Legislative Liaison
July 9, 2019
The battle to pass the Education Reform Bill was passionately fought on both sides. While the side that supported more freedom and greater options for parents, children, and local communities won a victory, the side that opposed these changes has not given up, adamant that they will have their say come the 2020 election.
The education bill’s advocates and detractors see the world quite differently. Advocates feel the parents are the solution; the detractors, on the other hand, see parents as the problem. Two opposing worldviews result in two different legal outcomes. Ultimately the question becomes: do we have more faith in people or in institutions?
Throughout the battle to pass the Education Omnibus Bill, home educators’ only request was for the homeschool exemption to be left standing without any changes. Our main concern was that the government-funded ESA program would be combined with the homeschool exemption, making it appear that homeschooling was government-funded, which would invariably lead to increased regulation. In the end, the Senate chose to keep ESAs separate; later, the House chose not to advance the ESA legislation. But while homeschoolers’ concerns were addressed in this particular bill, I believe the underlying worldviews of the two sides will greatly affect us in the future.
The battle for the Education Reform Bill, which included provisions for charter schools and ESAs, went on for so long because legislators would not give up the fight. They were passionate about giving more educational control to parents, teachers, and local communities; they had heard from their constituents many times over the years and chose to respond to their cries for help. One point made in committee early in 2018 was that the state-approved curriculum prevented a parent from being able to help their child with their math homework. Clearly the system – by design – excluded parents from helping their child. Legislators came to believe that if they did not act, nothing would change.
So why do legislators believe that parents having more control is a good thing? Over the last three decades, it has become evident that increased parental control over education brings positive results. Just look at homeschooling. Even when a parent lacks an advanced degree and is not certified in any of the subjects they teach, their children excel both academically and socially and become lifelong learners.1
Day by day, homeschooling proves that there are ways to improve educational outcomes.
So what is the response from those who want to maintain the status quo in education? Their main claim over the last 18 months has been that the problem is not the current system. Instead, pointing to the opiate crisis and dysfunctional families as the cause for low test scores, they place the blame on the children who attend public school – and their parents. Such reasoning is rooted in pessimism and implies that those who seek to change the system are uninformed and misguided.
Low views of individuals or groups is nothing new in America and has been used many times over the years to change the law and threaten basic civil rights. For example, Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, is quoted:
“Authorities tell us that 75% of the school children are defective. This means that no less than fifteen million schoolchildren, out of 22,000,000 in the United States, are physically or mentally below par… We prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded.” 2
This is a shocking example of what happens when you stop looking at people as people and start looking at them as problems. Laws do not change for the better; restrictions increase; freedoms melt away. Eugenics was a sick legal practice in America that took away the rights of thousands of people. Courts, including the US Supreme Court, decided in favor of forced sterilization. Legislators did too. West Virginia did not repeal Article 16, referred to as the “sterilization of mental defectives” provision, until 2013, and evidence suggests that sterilization of the “defectives” was allowed until at least 2011.
As long as there are those in power who view people as the problem, we can expect laws enacted that seek to limit freedom. For example, why are there so many bills introduced that seem to limit parental rights and control children? After asking this question, Heritage Communications of West Virginia (HCWV) took a look at the Youth Incarceration rate in West Virginia. We were shocked to discover that while 47 states have reduced the number of kids removed from their homes, West Virginia’s youth incarceration has risen dramatically, 3 mainly because of truancy violations. 4
This is what happens when people are seen as the problem. If you do not trust people, then you take away their freedoms. Fortunately, we have a document that supports our view that people should be valued and their rights protected. Let’s better understand that document and get very good at explaining it to our representatives. At the same time, we need to thank legislators who stand up for our freedoms; each of us needs to see them as part of the solution.
In 2000, when homeschoolers went to Charleston to change the law so that all our members could homeschool past 8th grade, we were not asking for favors. We were asking that the legislature give back what they had taken away: the freedom to homeschool our own children as God directs. The legislators of 2000 expanded our freedom.
Unfortunately, the message that demeans parents and children has grown in West Virginia since then. It is only a matter of time before more laws are introduced, based on this view, that limit our freedom. If not today, detractors will try again after the election if more people are elected who think like them.
The time comes when we all must ask: what kind of world do we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren? One that respects and values them and expands their freedom? Or one that lacks faith in them and believes they need to be controlled? For their sake, what message are we going to allow to stand? How about this one:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
2 The Pivot of Civilization Margaret Sanger (Planned Parenthood founder), Brentano’s Press, NY, 1922, p. 263
UPDATE June 12, 2019
The ESA bill, HB1040, that passed out of the Senate during the most recent interim session makes it clear that ESA students are not home school students. Home schoolers have worked hard over the years to ensure that our freedoms are protected and, as such, opposed the previous and confusing ESA provision that would have threatened the freedom we have worked hard to gain and preserve.
While it is commendable that the legislature looks at increasing options for parents in public schools, ESAs threaten homeschool freedom. We believe that government money is usually followed by more government regulation which is why we believe that broad based Tax credits, which are not government money, would be a better mechanism to create more educational options for WV parents.
We appreciate state legislators making it clear that ESA students are not home school students and protecting home school freedoms.
Here is a link to an HSLDA article that explains this issue in much more detail.
The Special Session Has Begun!
As soon as the West Virginia Legislature adjourned at midnight on the last day of the 60-day regular session, the legislature was called into a special session to discuss what the Governor has called “Education Betterment.” Immediately afterwards, the legislature recessed and returned to their districts to get input from their constituents.
At this time, it is unclear when legislators will reconvene to report the results of the public forums that are being held around the state. Some say at the end of April; others, during the interim in June. In any case, it must be before the start of the fiscal year, which begins on July 1st.
When I met with legislators on the last day of the regular session, they expressed their desire to hear from not just public-school parents and students, but from private school and homeschool families as well. In fact, if you want, I encourage you to coordinate with other homeschool families to set up a meeting with your legislators to discuss the issues that are important to you. After all, these folks represent you and are available to meet throughout the year.
Legislators are passionate about trying to do what is best for students and teachers. After many years of receiving reports of problems in public schools, they want to see a change in the system. This is why many current legislators are encouraging Charter Schools and ESA’s: they want to give parents more control over their children’s education, and they want to see new educational approaches that better meet students’ needs. They also want to help public school teachers who want more of a say in how they teach. Legislators want to see a bottom-up approach applied to education that will facilitate success in the classroom.
In the last two decades, I have attended well over 200 education committee meetings at the WV State Capitol and have watched as legislators seek to improve education quality. They really do care and want to be able to look back over their years of service with satisfaction and the knowledge that they made a difference.
At the same time, they do not always understand the needs of homeschool parents. For example, ESA’s are not a good choice for homeschool families, since government money is inevitably followed by government regulation. (Tax credits, which are not government money, would be a better fit for homeschoolers since they do not come with strings attached.) In addition, school sports is an option some home school parents would enjoy—but not at the cost of increased regulation. Legislators also do not always understand the importance of religious liberty and parental rights to homeschool parents and often need reminded with phone calls and letters.
When the legislature meets again before July to discuss how best to improve education, CHEWV will be there to meet with legislators and remind them of the legislative priorities that are important to homeschool families. We will remind them that we are funding our children’s education and doing, before God, what we know to be best for them and their education. By lobbying for WV homeschoolers, we will advance our freedoms and protect those families who have found an educational alternative that has proven to be successful in the Mountain State.
If you are interested in learning more about the issues which have an impact on home education, if you have any questions, or if you are interested in helping to protect the freedom to homeschool, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019 Regular Session Summary
The 2019 WV Legislative Session began with an effort in the Senate to improve public education by introducing Charter Schools – an effort that died in the House after teachers went on strike to protest. In a surprising move, the Tim Tebow bill was discharged on the House floor but then died just two days later. A Home School Tax Credit Bill passed House Education but was never put on the Finance Committee agenda. Thankfully, in the end, a bill that helps homeschoolers applying for the Promise Scholarship passed both houses and now awaits Governor Justice’s signature
Charter Schools and
The 130-page Education Omnibus Bill, championed by senators who are passionate about improving education in West Virginia, contained provisions for creating charter schools as well as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), among many other things. While charter schools do not have the flexibility that homeschooling provides, they have been shown to provide more local control than is available in the public school system. ESAs would have provided government funds for public school parents to send their kids to private schools if they otherwise could not afford to do so. Most Delegates did not support the Senate bill and tabled it indefinitely.
ESAs versus Tax
CHEWV’s main concern with SB 451 was to ensure that the ESA portion did not negatively affect the homeschool exemption, because government money nearly always precipitates government regulation. On the other hand, tax credits do not come with strings attached.
When legislators perceived that ESAs were not going to pass the House, they decided at the last minute to advance HB 3063, a bill that would provide tax credits for both private and homeschool educational expenses. While this bill passed House Education, there was not enough time for it to gain a hearing in House Finance.
The Tim Tebow
A bill to enable homeschool and private school students to participate in public school sports was once again advanced by House delegates. After hefty debate by committee members, the bill was taken off the House Education agenda without a vote. Then in a surprise move on the House floor, when it appeared the bill was dead for the session, Delegate Ellington made a motion to Discharge the bill from the committee and place the bill on first reading. It passed First and Second Readings, but two days later, on Third Reading, the Tebow bill was tabled by the House indefinitely.
The Bright Spot: SB 636 The
Promise Scholarship Emergency Rule
SB 636 was passed by the legislature and is on its way to the governor for his signature. When the Home School Promise Bill was passed in 2018, it created the need for a rule change in the Higher Education Policy Commission policy that governs the Promise Scholarship. This 2019 rule change, accomplished by the passage of SB 636, reflects the intent of the 2018 legislature to allow homeschool students to receive the PROMISE without having to take the GED/TASC.
Update Wednesday Feb. 27, 2019
The West Virginia Tim Tebow Bill
HB 3127, the West Virginia Tim Tebow Bill was voted down today on the floor of the House of Delegates. The final vote was 46 yeas 52 nays. The Bill is dead for the 2019 Regular Session. There are only ten days left in the 60 day session.
The Roll Call Vote - Click Here!
Update Monday Feb. 25, 2019
HB 3127 - The Tim Tebow Bill - Monday Feb. 25, 2019
Delegate Joe Ellington made a motion today on the Floor of the House to Discharge the Tim Tebow Bill, HB 3127 and have it Read a First Time. This motion was successful and HB 3127 was discharged and will now be on 2nd Reading, the Amendment Stage on Tuesday.
If HB 3127 had not been discharged and brought to the Floor of the House this morning it would have been dead for this session. Delegates are expected to attempt to amend the bill on Tuesday and then HB 3127 will be up for Passage in the House on Wednesday, if passed as expected, it will then move to the Senate and gain consideration by the Senate Education Committee.
Update: February 24th, 2019
Bills must be reported on the Floor of the House on Monday Feb. 25, 2019 in order to remain alive this session and gain consideration by the State Senate
Update: February 24th, 2019
The Tim Tebow Debate:
The House of Delegates Education Committee met on Friday morning to take up the Tim Tebow Bill. After a vigorious debate the bill was put on the afternoon commmittee agenda. When the committee reconvened at 3:30 it was decided to take the Tim Tebow Bill off of the agenda.
Click on the link below to here the 16 minute debate that took place on the Tim Tebow bill in in House Education on the morning of Feb 22, 2019
House Education Tim Tebow debate!
0.21 Minutes Delegate John Doyle
2.30 Minutes Delegate Tom Bibby
4.00 Minutes Del. Doyle & Bibby Debate
5.20 Minutes Del Cory Thompson
6.40 Minutes Del. Sean Hornbuckle
7.50 Minutes Del. Cindy Lavender-Bowe
9.15 Minutes Del. Jeff Campbell
9.40 Minutes Del. Ed Evans
13.00 Minutes Del Evans Debates Del Bibby
16.00 Minutes Meeting Ends
As of Saturday, February 18, 2019,
HB 3063 The Private and Home School Tax Credit Bill Passed the House Education Committee this afternoon with 14 yeas and 10 nays. It will now be referred to the House Finance Committee for consideration.
HB 3063, as introduced in committee, would have provided a 500 dollar tax credit per child for educational expenses such as curriculum and supplies. The bill was amended to reduce this amount to 250 dollars per child.
Lead Sponsor Del. Bibby
SPONSORS: Hardy, Espinosa, Summers, Kessinger, Westfall, Hanna, Wilson, Butler, Higginbotham, Cooper
Once again legislators have signed onto the "Youth Mental Health Protection Act." This bill impacts both religious liberty and parental rights, the two pillars that support home school freedoms. Scroll down to learn about the "Youth Mental Health Protection Act." SB 359 sponsored by Senator Maroney.
The legislature has begun to focus on improving the child welfare law particularly as it relates to foster care and adoption. Anytime the child welfare laws are modified these changes must be followed closely to ensure that Parental Rights are not impacted negatively.
HB 2002 Education Savings Accounts
HB 2098 Home Instruction Tax Relief Act
HB 2457 Parents of nonpublic school children a tax credit for each child attending.
School Sports Bill
The Tim Tebow Bill, SB45, has been introduced again this session. This bill would enable Home School and Private Schools to participate in Public School Sports Programs. This bill was defeated in the House Education committee last year. A similar bill was vetoed by the Governor in 2017.
Increase access to career education and workforce training to both public and homeschooled students.
SB 1 Increase access to career education and workforce training.
The Youth Mental Health Protection Act
Violates Parental Rights – Oppose SB
If a child is struggling with their gender identity, a certified counselor will only be permitted
to encourage that child to view themselves as a homosexual.
Parents should be trusted by the state to get the counseling that is needed for their hurting child. The state should not dictate to the parent and the counselor what that counseling should be.
“’Conversion therapy’ means any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity,"
“[Counseling is permitted . . .] as long as such counseling does not seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity."
SB 359 violates the 5th and 14th Amendments – Care and Custody Clauses
It has long been established that a parent’s right to the care and custody of their children is guaranteed by the 5th and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution. SB 359 is preventing a parent from caring for their child by not allowing them to get the help that they know is needed for their hurting child.
SB 359 violates the First Amendment – Free Speech Protections
Psychotherapy/counseling is therapy facilitated through speech. Banning the practice of medicine that is in line with the parent’s values and faith violates the First Amendment of the Constitution and is a form of viewpoint discrimination.
This bill is not about counseling.
Rather than help a child, this bill only provides for the communication of one message and thus prevents a parent and their counselor from acting in their child’s best interests.
Organizations opposed to this legislation:
• American College of Pediatricians
• The American Association of Christian Counselors
• Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity
• Catholic Medical Association
• International Network of Orthodox (Jewish) Mental Health Professionals
• Christian Medical Association
Collectively, these organizations comprise over 100,000 licensed mental and medical health practitioners and concerned citizens.
SB 359 - Youth Mental Health Protection Act
Example of Deplorable Legislation from the 2018 session
The purpose of HB 2650 is to prevent a parent from providing professional counseling for a child struggling with homosexuality unless that counselling will encourage the child to identify as a homosexual.
Example of Deplorable Legislation from the 2017 session
This legislation defines Home Schoolng as a form of Child Abuse.