Monday, November 24, 2014

The Governor Public Signed the Homeschool Bill

We did it! Together! We may never know who "we" all are, but with your help CHAP succeeded in removing some of the unnecessary burdens placed on home educators by Pennsylvanian government for over twenty-five years. On October 31, Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 196 of 2014, which restricts school district interference with home education in Pennsylvania. He made a public signing ceremony on November 17 and CHAP held a celebration at the Capitol Rotunda with some special guests joining CHAP Board Chairman, Dr. Bruce Eagleson, and bill sponsor, Representative Mark Gillen.

As surreal as the improved law may seem, I suspected that God wanted it to happen. He's giving us back domains that he originally granted us, not as a license but a right and responsibility. Thank you to all who participated and worked to do what only constituency can do to get the votes we needed in the legislature. We rejoice that we are granted freedom to focus more of our time and energy where it's needed and may He find us faithful with that freedom.

You may view and purchase pictures from this historic event here

Watch out for the winter issue of CHAP Magazine. It will have an overview of what it took to pass House Bill 1013. ~SDG

Friday, October 31, 2014


We are thankful to God for His help and guidance throughout the process of passing House Bill 1013. After twenty-six years of onerous regulation, on October 31, 2014, Governor Tom Corbett signed HB 1013 in private. It is now the law of the State of Pennsylvania and we are rejoicing over the significant improvement!

We need to also thank Representative Mark Gillen who introduced HB1013, a homeschool dad himself and a tenacious but kind advocate.  The burdensome Act 169 of 1988 is lifted with the effective and immediate implementation of 2014 Act 196!

We now have a date for the public signing and celebration day at the Capitol: Monday, November 17, 2014. What we do not have is the exact time and location, but CHAP will have a gathering at the Main Rotunda at 3:00 PM.

Representative Gillen is working with the Governor’s office to make the ceremonial signing more conducive for homeschoolers to attend.

As we wait for things to settle down after the election, if you haven’t done so, please make a brief call or email our State legislators thanking them for listening to homeschoolers! 

Consider also sending them hand-written letters or cards made by your children. They were only doing their job as lawmakers but they granted us our petition. It is a good practice and it pleases God to pray and encourage our government leaders.

CHAP would like to know how many homeschoolers are coming to the Capitol on November 17, and we also want to hear about your lobbying experience.  Please take this short survey and RSVP for the celebration.

CHAP thanks you for all your help and cooperation. We could not have done this without your support.

[This post will be updated as new information come.]

Sunday, October 26, 2014


If you are wondering who were the strongest supporters of HB1013, these are the top ones from both the House and Senate chambers. Please take the time to thank them and thank them loudly. They heard our voices and restored our confidence that our elected officials still represent us.

Keep your calls to short thank you's. Your emails can express a specific reason why you're grateful. Your hand-written letter on a hand-addressed envelop however will mean the most to them. Click either the "house" or "senate" tab on the top to get their address here. Let's bless them for blessing us, shall we?

I have the top 13 below and I picked them according to how they voted on HB1013 in this legislative session. Because HB1013 is a reintroduction of Rep. Todd Rock’s House Bill 2317 of last session, I also checked and compared the list of its sponsors and how each of them voted in the committee and in the floor votes. It's also noteworthy to compare their votes throughout the process which I summarized here and here. These were all tabulated to get the list below.


Rep. Mark Gillen
Rep. Todd Rock
Rep. Mike Turzal
Rep. Ryan Aument
Rep. Gordon Denlinger
Rep. Jim Cox
Rep. Will Tallman
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe
Rep. Jaret Gibbons
Rep. Rob Kauffman
Rep. John Lawrence
Rep. Stephen Bloom
Rep. Paul Clymer


Sen. Mike Folmer
Sen. Andrew Dinniman
Sen. Joseph Scarnati
Sen. Dominic Pileggi
Sen. Rob Teplitz
Sen. Robert Tomlinson
Sen. David Argall
Sen. Pat Browne
Sen. Mike Brubaker
Sen. Jake Corman
Sen. John Eichelberger
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf
Sen. Lloyd Smucker

Thursday, October 23, 2014


United, we made history, folks! We finally revised Pennsylvania's draconian homeschool law! Well, we're still waiting for the Governor's signature but he already expressed his support and assured us that he will sign it.

Here's a little trivia: Did you know that it took exactly 19 months from the time Representative Mark Gillen introduced the bill until the Senate signed it? Our first big lobby effort to pass House Bill 1013 was on December 11, 2013. We held 2 more CHAP HELP Day's (Home Education Lobby Program) after that, several other smaller trips, and participated in a hearing at the Capitol - and we did it despite the odds. 

We have no doubt - since CHAP and HSLDA have been trying to improve on the law for decades - that God has given us the perfect set-up - in His time - to finally succeed. I will be writing an article on CHAP's Magazine about this journey.

We cannot thank you all enough for coming through and doing what only you can do to help CHAP pass a better homeschool statute. Remember Samuel Adam's wisdom: "Duty is ours, the results are God's."

Now, I know that many of you would like to be there for the historic event - when Governor Tom Corbett will sign this bill into law. Unfortunately, because of his tight travel schedule, his office cannot nail down a date for us. However, as soon as we know, you will know. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 20, 2014


We regret that we cannot follow-up on all the inquiries and respond to everyone's question. Sometimes, we don't see it - especially on Facebook - and other times, we just don't have the time. Thank you for your patience and for understanding that we are all volunteers and homeschoolers ourselves.

CHAP has put together some of the frequently asked questions here and will add other information needed as they arise.  

Q:  What is this bill exactly? I am supporting it because I trust you, but to be honest I don’t understand what it is about.

A:  Act 169, the current PA homeschooling statute, was written 25 years ago, at a time when lawmakers didn't know how homeschooling works and if it would be a successful method of education.  Therefore, the laws that were enacted included very high government regulation of homeschooling. 48 others states have now loosened their laws but we still have a large list of  archaic, draconian requirements which we must follow when homeschooling in PA. House Bill 1013 is going to improve on Pennsylvania homeschool law.

Q:  What does it mean to "sunshine" a bill or amendment?

A:  There are regulations requiring openness in government. Amendments to a bill need to be “sunshined” or made available to the public with a sufficient advance notice before any vote is made on it. The only exception is in emergency situations.

Q:  I read through some of the post. I'm still confused. I thought you wanted it passed, but was there an amendment added? What WAS the amendment?

A:  After it passed in the House on June 29, the bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee. There, they amended it to strengthen the points of the bill and Representative Gillen, the bill sponsor, received the amendment. It came out of Senate Education Committee on September 23 and had its first consideration (or reading) on the Senate floor.
When it was re-referred to the Appropriations Committee (a fiscal committee) on October 7, the Senate Minority Leader attempted to amend it a second time to include items that does not have anything to do with home education. We knew that with this new rewording, might pass the Senate, but the House would reject it and the Governor would most likely not pass it either. If this amendment was tacked on, the homeschool-friendly House members would be forced to essentially kill the bill. We sounded the alarm on social networking sites and with very short notice, many of you responded and that amendment failed. The Capitol didn't know what we did but they were impressed. If you're interested in the amendment, it made the news here and here.

Q:  What do we need to do now besides pray?

A:  Since it has passed in the full Senate floor, the amendment coming out of Ed Com has to be approved by the House. Rep. Mark Gillen, the sponsor of HB 1013, was assured that it will be run through the House, so what we need to do is call the Majority Leader, Mike Turzai's office and thank him for scheduling the homeschool bill for a final vote on Monday. Short thank you calls - no lobbying necessary. Call both:
Capitol - (717) 772-9943
District (412) 369-2230

Q:  What exactly does this change and when do those changes go in to effect?

A:  In terms of the law in general, passage of the bill will eliminate having to submit our school portfolios to the school district to be re-evaluated. The school district will accept the report from the evaluator. If the school superintendent has "reasonable doubt" about the education of our children, we will be permitted to continue homeschool until the issue is resolved. Parents will also have the option of printing a standardized diploma form from the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website - authorized by the parent but easily recognized in the Commonwealth. The diploma will be signed by the senior-year portfolio evaluator. Families will also retain the ability to use parent-issued diplomas for their graduates.

Q:  Does this mean we no longer need to provide a portfolio?

A.  No. We still need to get evaluation for every student we filed an affidavit and education objectives for at the beginning of the school year. The difference is we can now incorporate items that we did not want to add before - not wanting the school district to see private things that are not in their purview by law but are fun memorabilia.    

Q:  I'm worried about PDE issued diplomas. Do you know anything about what that will entail?

A:  The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the school superintendent will have no control or authority over the qualification of who peruse the downloadable state form - only the evaluator in the senior year.  

~ o ~

"For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, 
the LORD is our king: it is he who will save us."

Isaiah 33:22

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


House Bill 1013 passed the Pennsylvania Senate 
with a 37 to 11 vote.
Tonight, we expect the House to concur HB1013.

Now, if the House accepts the amendment that the Senate Education Committee 
added to strengthen the point of the bill – it will become law once Governor Corbett signs it!

THANK YOU to everyone who has prayed, visited, called, and emailed lawmakers 
through this process.

Please continue to lift it up to the Lord!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Lord willing, this week will wrap up with revisions to PA Homeschool law. Senate Appropriations will vote the bill out of Committee today and the full Senate Floor will vote on it tomorrow.

But with a new language, it won't make it through.


An amendment is being offered in the Appropriations Committee that has NOTHING to do with our bill. If it's tacked on, it WILL KILL House Bill 1013. The Senate MAY pass it - we don't know - but the House will NOT let it through, and Governor is NOT likely to pass it either. 

Please call Senator Vincent Hughes - (717) 787-7112 and respectfully but adamantly ask that he not amend HB1013.

Next, call the rest of the Democratic members of Appropriations Committee.


- The amendment MAY have enormous worth but this will effectively kill our bill. 

- We've been under onerous laws for a quarter of a century without significant reform in the laws... we finally got a chance. 

- We don't have time to understand their thoughts on this amendment but it's not fair that they're using this method to push their wishes.

- We ask them to show courage and conviction to understand that we have been waiting for this relief for 25 years.

Include Democratic members in your calls who supported our bill in the Ed Com especially Senator Andy Dinniman - (717) 787-5709. Express your appreciation of his/their strong support for home education; and that you trust that they will continue to protect and defend our rights as home educators.

Senate Appropriations Democratic Members

Vince Hughes, Minority Chair  - 717-787-7112
Jim Ferlo, Minority Vice Chair - 717-787-6123
Jay Costa, Ex-Officio - 717-787-7683
John Blake - 717-787-6481
Lawrence Farnese - 717-787-5662
Judith Schwank - 717-787-8925
Timothy Solobay - 717-787-1463
LeAnna Washington - 717-787-1427
John Wozniak - 717-787-5400
John Yudichak - 717-787-7105

Senate Education Democratic Members

Andrew Dinniman, Minority Chair - 717-787-5709
Daylin Leach - 717-787-5544
Rob Teplitz - 717-787-6801
Anthony Williams - 717-787-5970

Hold on to the faith in prayer.
The battle is not ours but God's. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Are You a Tweeter of a Facebooker?

Love it or hate it, you cannot broadcast your message effectively without using social media. Tweeting may feel like sending a text to nobody, but politicians and celebrities alike seem to favor twitter. Facebook is my preference because my family and friends are there - both near and far - and I love the groups and pages. Before I digress, Here's just a sampling of effective social networking:

Getting to the Senate Leadership was tougher -

But many hands make the light work.

...and we can expect that with God's help, we can do great things!

William Penn is 370 Years Old

In my enthusiasm to pass HB1013, I totally overlooked the fact that today is a holiday: Columbus Day! It suits me fine that we're schooling but my little one realized that the date is 10/13!

Last week, Oct. 5, we had bright hopes that the bill will get to the Senate Floor. That day was the Festival of Sukkot, the fifth day after Yom Kippur - a stark contrast from the solemn holiday for the Jews to one of the most joyous. But the Lord who we know is Sovereign had other thoughts. We press on.  

I haven't seen anything celebrating this yet but tomorrow is Will Penn's 370th birthday. I pray that our legislature will understand his wisdom when he said:

"No people can be truly happy, though under the greatest 
enjoyments of civil liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their 
Conscience as to their Religious Profession and Worship."
 (Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties, 1701)

Right in the Capitol Rotunda is the message about the HOLY EXPERIMENT. "Holy Experiment" was William Penn's term for the ideal government he established for Pennsylvania in 1681, when he obtained the charter for that colony from King Charles II of England. Penn believed that the charter was a gift from God, "that an example may be set up to the nations: there may be room there, though not here, for such an holy experiment." This "experiment," Penn believed, would be a success only if the colony was settled with people of virtue, whose spirituality would shape Pennsylvania society, law, and politics.