"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does."
That passage gave me confidence as Mark and I drove downtown to the capitol to meet with the Chairman of the House Education Committee. I pondered on the truth that God is the power broker when it comes to family issues. He has the ultimate authority over our posterity. It is His will that His kingdom is extended to the coming generations. My husband and I are here as mere instruments of our LORD for the cause of homeschooling in the state.
We met with Representative Paul Clymer and his staffer to advocate for the passing of House Bill 1013. We knew that the members of the Ed Com are getting many phone calls and emails. At this point, the key person who must include the bill for a vote is the chairman.
Clymer welcomed us warmly and we were joined by his Legislative Research Analyst. Right off the bat, Clymer said that he supports homeschooling, that many of his constituents homeschool, and that he is impressed by their children's character and respectful attitudes. To our surprise, he added that many homeschoolers seems to put their kids in public school after the 8th grade.
We affirmed the intimidation that many parents feel about teaching high school, but commented that their decision to stop homeschooling often hinges on their student's ability to enter college and having the necessary documents and activities to qualify for scholarships. To emphasize this point, we shared our story of a state college refusing to accept our oldest child unless she took a GED test, even though her SAT score was quite high. We also informed Clymer, to his amazement, that Ivy Leagues are actively courting homeschool graduates.
Part way through the meeting, we and Rep. Clymer learned that his own staffer was homeschooled, along with all of the staffer's siblings, but that after the 8th grade, they were all sent to either private or public school.
When Clymer mentioned cyber schooling, it gave Mark an opportunity to explain the difference between homeschool and virtual school, as well as communicate CHAP's definition of homeschooling: parent directed, privately funded home-based education.
Both gentlemen gave us indications that the Education Committee will not be the bigger problem when HB1013 comes up for a vote. Those who may oppose the bill are the government education entities including the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and definitely the school district superintendents who feel the need to handle a tangible proof to assess what has been taught instead of just receiving the report from the evaluator that proper education is occurring.
Because HB1013 will open a specific section of law, another concern is that other legislators could tack on other unwanted amendments to HB1013, or even add amendments that would make the homeschool law more complicated. Rep. Clymer assured us that he will kill the bill if this happens.
As we wrapped up, Rep. Clymer announced that he already scheduled a hearing for the bill on March 17th. We were encouraged! He wants all concerned parties to have a chance to voice their opinions and, based on the outcome, the Education Committee will vote on it. Chairman Clymer has deferred to Rep. Gillen to arrange the public hearing since Gillen is the prime sponsor of HB1013. There will be a panel represented by the various interested organizations to address the committee members. We are trying to insure that CHAP has some people on the panel.
According to Clymer, Education Committee members has gotten many phone calls and emails about HB1013 from all parts of the state. They encourage homeschoolers to continue this and verified that it is effective in influencing decisions. They also appreciate the pie homeschoolers have made for each legislator in the Ed Com during CHAP HELP Day in December. Clymer shared his with all his staff members.
When we asked Rep. Clymer for a timetable of when the bill should pass, he said that the legislative process should be completed by June 30 before everybody goes into summer break. He reminded us that when they return from this break, the focus will be on the big election this year: governor, everyone in the House, and some of the Senators.
We don't have the exact time of the public hearing yet, but please mark your calendars for Monday, March 17. We want to fill the room with homeschoolers. Rep. Gillen says, "Bring the children. This bill is for them."
April 2 is the tentative date for the next CHAP HELP Day. We will once again bake pies for our legislators as a gesture of goodwill. Please watch CHAPonline.com for the announcement or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for your participation and prayers. We cannot do this without your enthusiastic support.