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