AB 186; Compulsory Attendance Age Change, Mandatory K, and Prekindergarten

April 14, 2017 – Assembly Education Committee votes “Do Pass” of an amended AB 186.  Two Republican Assemblywoman, Melissa Woodbury and Jill Tolles voted “for” the amended bill but reserved the right to change their vote to “no” on the assembly floor because they still have concerns with the Age 6 compulsory attendance age change (this up from age 5 in the original bill, the current age is 7).  NHN believes that there is no compelling evidence to suggest the current age of 7 needs to be change or that anyone will be benefited by the change.  Indeed, parents will be more burdened by lowering the compulsory attendance age if their children are simply not ready for school.

If you live District 24 – Clark County (Woodbury) or District 25 – Washoe County (Tolles) please contact them and ask them to vote NO on AB 186 since you are their constituents.  Contact info for Assemblywoman Woodbury; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Legislator/A/Assembly/Current/23

Assemblywoman Tolles: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Legislator/A/Assembly/Current/25

Results of the Education Committee Vote on AB 186 –A message from Mike Smith
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Assembly Bill 186 was voted out of the Assembly Education Committee this afternoon. The author of the bill amended it to change the compulsory education age from 5 to 6.

However, we will not change our position on the bill—at age 6 children are still too young to be forced to start formal education. There’s no justification for changing the current compulsory age of 7.

It appears that the bill will now go to the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means—the money committee. When and if this happens, we will  let you know so we can mount further opposition to AB 186.

For those of you who contacted the Education Committee, voicing your concerns, we are very grateful. We will be asking you to contact your legislators again. Do not despair; perseverance in the face of adversity is the key to maintaining our freedom.

Sincerely,

Mike Smith,

HSLDA President

April 13, 2017 – Update!  Action Needed

The Assembly Education Committee has scheduled AB 186 for a Work Session and VOTE tomorrow, April 14th. We don’t know the time of the hearing, it will be held “at the call of the Chairman.”

Please EMAIL all Committee Members tonight or tomorrow morning with “Vote NO on AB186” in the subject line. This will make it easy to copy and paste into an email: Tyrone.Thompson@asm.state.nv.us, Amber.Joiner@asm.state.nv.us, Elliot.Anderson@asm.state.nv.us, Olivia.Diaz@asm.state.nv.us, Edgar.Flores@asm.state.nv.us, Ozzie.Fumo@asm.state.nv.us, William.McCurdy@asm.state.nv.us, Brittney.Miller@asm.state.nv.us, Heidi.Swank@asm.state.nv.us, Chris.Edwards@asm.state.nv.us, Lisa.Krasner@asm.state.nv.us, Keith.Pickard@asm.state.nv.us, Jill.Tolles@asm.state.nv.us, Melissa.Woodbury@asm.state.nv.us

Bill: AB 186 (by Diaz)—lowers compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, makes kindergarten mandatory at age 5 and requires all school districts to provide prekindergarten for 4 year-olds in every public elementary school.

This bill 

  • Denies parents the right to decide if their children are ready for school at age 5 or 6 and puts that decision in the hands of the state.  
  • Mandates that ALL children attend Kindergarten 
  • Mandates that all public school provide PreKindergarten (4 year-olds) – where does that money come from?  Raising taxes again?

Position: Strongly oppose

Assembly Education Committee Members office phone numbers:

Tyrone Thompson – Chair Office Phone: 775-684-8569
Amber Joiner – Vice Chair Office Phone: 775-684-8559
Elliot T. Anderson Office Phone: 775-684-8835
Olivia Diaz Office Phone: 775-684-8553
Edgar Flores Office Phone: 775-684-8583
Ozzie Fumo Office Phone: 775-684-8839
William McCurdy II Office Phone: 775-684-8545
Brittney Miller Office Phone: 775-684-8833
Heidi Swank Office Phone: 775-684-8595
Chris Edwards Office Phone: 775-684-8857
Lisa Krasner Office Phone: 775-684-8848
Keith Pickard Office Phone: 775-684-8823
Jill Tolles Office Phone: 775-684-8837
Melissa Woodbury Office Phone: 775-684-8503

Assembly Fax number for all: 1-775-684-8533

________________________________________________________

March 22, 2017 – UPDATE

BEST video news report on the hearing on AB 186 from KOLO-News Now; http://www.kolotv.com/content/news/Mandatory-kindergarten-debate-heats-up-416901673.html
This reporter really captured the essence of why we oppose AB 186 and mandatory Kindergarten.

And from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:  “Lowering the compulsory age drew the most criticism, including from the Nevada Homeschool Network.

“Our basic premise is that parents need to be the one who decides when their children enter school,” said Elissa Wahl, the organization’s chairwoman. “The biggest sticking point is that this is not voluntary.””
http://www.reviewjournal.com/…/nevada-students-may-be-manda…

Click here to read NHN’s Letter to the NV Assembly Education Committee – 03.21.17 OPPOSING AB 186 as written.

Click hear to read Home School Legal Defense Association’s positon on AB 186.

Video of the actual hearing:  http://nvleg.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=7292  AB 186 was the last bill to be heard and starts at the 1 hour, 26 minute marker.

THANK YOU to all the parents and concerned citizens who came out today in both Carson City and Las Vegas to convey opposition to AB 186 as written! And to those of you who called, emailed, faxed; LEGISLATORS HEARD you! Several made comments on all the people who had contacted them!!!

We are hopeful (though not necessarily optimistic) that members of the Assembly Education Committee heard our plea and will work to amend the bill and leave the compulsory attendance age at 7. The next step will be for the Chairman to move this bill to a “Work Session”… NHN will keep you posted.

March 20, 2017 
Click here for joint Home School Legal Defense Association and NHN Call to Action
 – Make your opinion known!

March 19, 2017 – Neveda AB 186 Opposition.NHN.HSLDA Hearing CTA.1

AB 186 – Reduces Parental Control over Education; Hearing Scheduled 3/22/17

Call to Action Request – NEW message from NHN Officers and Mike Smith (HSLDA)

Bill: AB 186 (by Diaz)—lowers compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, makes kindergarten mandatory at age 5 and requires all school districts to provide prekindergarten for 4 year-olds in every public elementary school.

Position: Strongly oppose

Status: As introduced

Hearing:  Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 3:15 p.m.  in Assembly Education Committee. Agenda: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/79th2017/Agendas/Assembly/ED/Final/588.pdf

Action Requested

Thank you to all who have already contacted your own Assembly members and voiced your concerns regarding AB 186, but NOW more is needed!  We need ALL OF YOU to respond to this new action request to STOP this attempt by the state to get ALL children in school at five years of age.

Please call, email or fax members of the Assembly Education Committee NOW (contact info below). Include your name, address, and a short message (see Opposition Points below).  Subject:  Vote NO on AB 186.

Plan to attend the hearing on Wednesday, March 22nd at 3:15 in either Carson City or Las Vegas.

Location: Room 3142 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson St., Carson City, NV.

Video-conferenced to Room 4406 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Las Vegas, NV.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION for Education Committee Members:

Tyrone Thompson – Chair  Office Phone: 775-684-8569    Email: Tyrone.Thompson@asm.state.nv.us

Amber Joiner – Vice Chair  Office Phone: 775-684-8559     Email:  Amber.Joiner@asm.state.nv.us

Elliot T. Anderson                Office Phone: 775-684-8835     Email: Elliot.Anderson@asm.state.nv.us

Olivia Diaz                        Office Phone: 775-684-8553     Email: Olivia.Diaz@asm.state.nv.us

Edgar Flores                      Office Phone: 775-684-8583     Email: Edgar.Flores@asm.state.nv.us

Ozzie Fumo                       Office Phone: 775-684-8839     Email: Ozzie.Fumo@asm.state.nv.us

William McCurdy II           Office Phone: 775-684-8545     Email: William.McCurdy@asm.state.nv.us

Brittney Miller                   Office Phone: 775-684-8833     Email: Brittney.Miller@asm.state.nv.us

Heidi Swank                      Office Phone: 775-684-8595     Email: Heidi.Swank@asm.state.nv.us

Chris Edwards                   Office Phone: 775-684-8857     Email: Chris.Edwards@asm.state.nv.us

Lisa Krasner                      Office Phone: 775-684-8848     Email: Lisa.Krasner@asm.state.nv.us

Keith Pickard                     Office Phone: 775-684-8823     Email: Keith.Pickard@asm.state.nv.us

Jill Tolles                          Office Phone: 775-684-8837     Email: Jill.Tolles@asm.state.nv.us

Melissa Woodbury              Office Phone: 775-684-8503     Email: Melissa.Woodbury@asm.state.nv.us

Assembly Fax number for all:  1-775-684-8533 or Toll Free: 1-866-543-9941

Assembly Mailing Address: c/o NV Assembly; 401 S. Carson Street, Carson City, NV 89701-4747

Current Assembly Members: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Legislator/A/Assembly/

Find Your Legislator: http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

Summary of Concern

Under current law, parents can choose to have their child skip kindergarten and begin at the 1st grade at age 6 or even 7 if appropriate for the child as determined by the parent. If AB 186 were to pass, it would eliminate this current parental choice by mandating that every child attend school by age 5. This would go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Under AB 186, parents who would have chosen to delay their child’s entrance into formal education and skip kindergarten would be forced to start their children’s formal education two years earlier, before they feel it is best for their child.

The requirements of AB 186 would apply to pupils in public and private schools, as well as homeschools and rigidly compel school attendance based on age instead of readiness.

Advocates of extending government control over all children from birth will be able to use passage of AB 186 as a step toward establishing seamless, cradle-to-grave government-controlled education and development programs for all children.

Opposition Points

  1. Parents, not the state, should decide when their children are ready to attend public, private or home school, not the government.  The current compulsory attendance age of 7-18 more than satisfies the government’s goal of ensuring an educated populace while protecting a parent’s right to determine the child’s readiness for school attendance prior to age 7.  Many children are simply not ready to attend school at age 5 or even 6. However, for those parents who wish their child to attend school, the opportunity to do so already exists under current Nevada law.
  2. Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 will create an undue financial burden on parents who intend to enroll their child in private school but wish to choose to wait until their child turns 7. These parents will now be forced by state law to enroll their child one or two years earlier than planned or submit paperwork to homeschool their child at age 5 even if they determine their child is not ready for school. Homeschooling parents would be required to start their children’s formal education at age 5 as well.
  3. Requiring school districts to provide prekindergarten in every elementary school usurps local control of education and will create an undue financial burden for Nevada. There are no proven studies showing kindergarten promotes long-term educational success. To the contrary, research indicates that early education does not improve a child’s potential for being a better student in the future, because early gains disappear in a few years. Further, funding for other educational services vital to current public school students will be depleted.

Forward this email onto your friends and relatives as this affects all families in NV not just homeschoolers.

If you have not already done so, go to the Nevada Legislative Opinion page and vote your opposition to this bill here.  In addition, it is vitally important that you leave a COMMENT. Your comments will be viewed by lawmakers.

Thank you for your action to preserve this vital right of parental choice in Nevada.

NHN Officers:  Elissa Wahl, Matt Alder, Kelley Radow, Ray Poole, Aaron Sutherland, & Kristi Casuas       NHN Officer Emerita (active):  Barbara Dragon                                                                                                       in cooperation with Mike Smith, President HSLDA

______________________________________

AB 186 has been scheduled for a hearing in the NV Assembly Education Committee on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22 at 3:15 pm.  Please plan to attend the hearing in Las Vegas or Carson City to register your opposition to the bill as currently written.  Click HERE for date, time, location info.

______________________________________

March 10, 2017 – UPDATE on our meeting with Assemblywoman Diaz on her bill, AB 186

After meeting with the sponsor of AB 186 last week, there appears to be some confusion. Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz believes that 5 and 6 year-olds who are already ENROLLED in a public school but are not attending the school on a regular basis are being “neglected” by their parent and that an age change in the compulsory attendance law is required to “fix” the problem.

But we pointed out that under existing law parents who voluntarily enroll their 5/6 year-old child ARE already contributing to truancy of the child if they are not sending the child to the school he/she is “enrolled” in and can be dealt with the same as parents of 7-18 year-olds. If that is her only motivation for the compulsory attendance age change, no change in the law is required. We also stressed that MOST parents already think the law requires them to enroll their child in Kindergarten at age 5 or 6 anyway!

There was also some discussion that she is concerned that there are 5 and 6 year-olds who are not enrolled in a public school and may not be receiving any instruction from their parents and they then arrive “delayed” at public school. We stressed that even if that were true in some cases, the law should not be changed as it would negatively impact a parent’s right to make the determination based on the child’s “readiness” for school instead of the child’s age.  Schools (both public and private) already work with the parent and child in determining proper grade placement when the child is enrolled at any age.

Lowering the compulsory attendance age would then force all children into “education” based on their age, as determined by government, instead of their “readiness” for academics as determined by the parent.  We have asked that the bill the bill NOT be moved forward as it is currently written.

March 1, 2017

                                            

Oppose Bill that Reduces Parental Control over Education

 A message from Mike Smith and Barbara Dragon

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
From: Mike Smith, HSLDA, in partnership with Nevada Homeschool NetworkBill: AB 186 (by Diaz)—lowers compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, makes kindergarten mandatory at age 5, and requires all school districts to provide prekindergarten for 4-year-olds in every public elementary school.Position: Strongly opposeStatus: Your response to AB 186 has been tremendous! Some of you have contacted your Assembly member, and 150  of you (as of 3/1/17 @ 7:00 pm) have formally registered your opposition to the bill on the Nevada Legislative Opinion page. As a result, AB 186 is in the top 10 of all bills based on the number of responses.The bill is still active and will require our continued opposition. We will probably contact you next about the bill when it is set for a hearing, likely in the Assembly Education Committee. At that time we will ask you to contact committee members and, if possible, attend the hearings in both Carson City and Las Vegas.

Action Requested

Please forward this email to anyone interested in opposing this bill. We have provided “opposition points” below to help you formulate your message. Also, if you haven’t contacted your Assembly member, please call or write, explaining your dissatisfaction. Find your legislator here. And finally, if you haven’t registered your opposition on the Nevada Legislative Opinion page, please do so at your earliest convenience.

Summary of Concern

Under current law, parents can have their child skip kindergarten and begin at the 1st grade at age 6 or 7. If AB 186 were to pass, it would eliminate this current parental option by mandating that every child attend school by age 5. This would go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Under AB 186, parents who would have decided to delay their child’s entrance into formal education and skip kindergarten would be forced to start their children’s formal education two years earlier, before they feel it is appropriate.

The requirements of AB 186 would apply to pupils in public and private schools, as well as homeschools.

Advocates of extending government control over all children from birth will be able to use passage of AB 186 as a step toward establishing seamless, cradle-to-grave government-controlled education and development programs for all children.

Opposition Points

Parents, not the state, should decide when their children are ready to attend school. The current compulsory attendance age of 7-18 more than satisfies the government’s goal of ensuring an educated populace while protecting a parent’s right to determine the child’s readiness for school attendance prior to age 7. Many children are simply not ready to attend school at age 5 or even 6. However, for those parents who wish their child to attend school, the opportunity to do so already exists under current Nevada law. The requirements of AB 186 rigidly compels school attendance based on age instead of readiness.

Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 will create an undue financial burden on parents who intend to enroll their child in private school but wish to choose to wait until their child turns 7. These parents will now be forced by state law to enroll their child one or two years earlier than planned or submit paperwork to homeschool their child at age 5, even if they determine their child is not ready for school. Homeschooling parents would be required to start their children’s formal education at age 5 as well.

Requiring school districts to provide prekindergarten in every elementary school usurps local control of education and will create an undue financial burden for Nevada. There are no proven studies showing kindergarten promotes long-term educational success. To the contrary, research indicates that early education does not improve a child’s potential for being a better student, because early gains disappear in a few years. Further, funding for other educational services vital to current public school students will be depleted.

Thank you for your action to preserve this vital right of parental choice in Nevada.

Mike Smith, HSLDA President
Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer

 

February 22, 2017

Click here for NEW joint message from NHN and HSLDA on AB 186!  Join the growing number of people making their voices heard on this bill to lower the Compulsory Attendance age from 7 to 5.

NEW study from Stanford University backs up what NHN has long said, parents should decide “when” their child is ready for school, not a state mandate.

We appreciate your support of the work of both organizations to protect homeschooling in Nevada and at the national level as well!  How you can help:

Parents, Join NHN first and receive a discount on your HSLDA Membership.

Grandparents and Friends, donations to Nevada Homeschool Network* and HSLDA – Homeschool Freedom Fund are welcome as well.

*Note: NHN is a 501c4 organization which benefits others through our lobbying efforts. Therefore, membership fees and donations are not tax deductible.  

 

February 15, 2017

Warning:  The NV Legislature is now in session.

AB 186  will lower the Compulsory School Attendance Age in Nevada from 7 to 5 years old!

The bill also mandates every School District maintain a Pre-K class in every school.We say:  “Let parents decide when their child is ready!”

February 15, 2017

Dear Concerned Citizens,

By way of introduction, Nevada Homeschool Network (NHN) advocates for Nevada families who have chosen to direct the education of their children.  In this capacity, we are writing today about AB 186. Among other things, AB 186 will lower the compulsory attendance age for entry into school from 7 to 5 years of age. This requirement will apply to all children, whether their parents plan to send them to public school or private school or homeschool.

We have several concerns with AB 186 as introduced:

  • We hold that Nevada parents should decide when their child is ready to attend school, not the government. The current age of 7 gives parents that opportunity.  Many children are simply not ready at age 5 or even 6.  However, for those parents who wish their child to attend school they may already do so under current Nevada law. “Choice in Education” should include “when” as well as “where”.
  • Requiring school districts to provide Pre-Kindergarten in every elementary school usurps local control of education and will create an undue financial burden for Nevada.  There are no proven studies showing Early Childhood Education (Pre-K) benefits the long-term educational success of the child.
  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5, with no exemptions for age 5 or 6, may create an undue financial burden on parents who intend to enroll their child in private school but wish to choose to wait until their child turns 7.  These parents will now be forced by state law to enroll their child a year or two earlier than planned or submit paperwork to homeschool their child even if they determine their child is not ready for school.

Article II, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution states, “…the legislature may pass such laws as will tend to secure a general attendance of the children in each school district upon said public schools.”  The key here is, “tend to secure” a general attendance which we believe is met under current law.

Therefore, NHN requests the help of all Nevadans to STOP this intrusive surge into what should be a parent’s right to determine when their child is ready to attend school.

What YOU can do now to help!

ACTION REQUESTED:

  1. Contact your Assemblyman/woman by mail, phone or email:

Assembly Contact info: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Legislator/A/Assembly/

Who’s my Legislator?  http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

What’s my district? http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

  1. Please explain in your own words that this bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Diaz is: a huge burden on the Nevada taxpayer, it is not in the Governor’s budget, it will required higher taxes that Nevadan’s can’t afford, it takes away local control of education by mandating school districts to provide Pre-Kindergarten in every school, and it undermines a parent’s right to decide when their child is ready for school.
  2. Share your opinion on AB 186 on the Legislative Opinion Page.
  3. Contact NHN and let us know that you agree with us by finding us on Facebook or emailing us . We also need people to meet with Legislators with us as well as attending hearings on this bill. For information on this and other bills affecting homeschool freedom link to our website.

A Torturous History: NV Homeschool Law

 But we must never forget the HARD road to homeschool  freedom!

Here it is, 2017 and I’m sitting in a meeting of the Nevada Assembly Education Committee listening to the introduction of AB 186, a bill to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5, mandate Kindergarten for ALL Nevada children, and force all NV Public Schools to offer PreKindergarten.  As NV homeschool parents showed up and testified against the bill because of the threat to their right to decide “when” their child is ready for school it became increasingly clear that current Legislators on both sides of the aisle have NO IDEA what is currently in NV law regarding homeschooling and the justification behind the current freedom of NV Homeschooling.

I began to wonder, perhaps even homeschool parents today really don’t know what the history of our law is.  So, in response to a Legislator’s question of how homeschooling in Nevada got to where it is today I wrote this SHORT timeline to explain how burdensome homeschool regulations were back in the day and how parents across the state worked together over 25 years to give parents the FREEDOM they enjoy to direct the education of their children without government controls!

So, here goes…

1947, amended in 1956 – first “homeschool law” in the nation passed in Nevada.  This law basically said that parents could educate their children at home if they provided “satisfactory written evidence of equivalent instruction to the public schools as approved by the NV State Board of Education.”

  • 4/3/17 – Correction:  the actual date of the first homeschool law in the nation was 1947 in Nevada, it was amended in 1956; see page 11 of Homeschooling; The Original Option It took 60 years for homeschool parents to gain independence from the public school system.  Many thanks to Frank Schnorbus, our NV homeschool history expert for pointing out the correct year.

1982 – Two mothers “applied” to the school district in Winnemucca, NV to homeschool their children.  One mother was approved because she was a Nevada certified teacher, the other mother was denied because she was not a certified teacher and the family lived within 50 miles of a local public school.  That mother filed a lawsuit and lost.  The reason?  The district court judge ruled because the State Board of Education had never written regulations for the law in existence at the time there was no basis on which to rule in her favor.  That judge also stated in his ruling that he objected to the concept of homeschooling and he “recommended” several requirements if it were to be allowed.

1983 – Parents went to the NV State Legislature requesting a change to the law allowing parents to homeschool their children without government approval.  However, the Department of Education testified that they were writing regulations based on the judge’s ruling for approval by the State Board of Education.  The Legislature refused to move the bill forward to allow the SBOE time to “regulate” homeschooling via the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC).  The SBOE not only approved regulations following the judge’s recommendations, they added many additional conditions which turned Nevada into one of the most “over-regulated” homeschool states in the nation.

The SBOE continued to ADD to the regulations over the next 5 years.  By 1990 regulations included, in part, annual education plans and “approval” of the homeschool by the local school board, birth certificates and photos of the child had to be submitted, first-time homeschoolers had to work under the oversight of a NV certified teacher, children had to be tested annually AT the local public school (not in their home where they were taught), days and minutes of teaching time equal to the public school were required, the list went on and on.  But at least parents were “allowed” to homeschool.

1988-1996 –  Nevada homeschool parents throughout the state began to work together to oppose the more onerous regulations.  In 1991, the Superintendent of Public Instruction said during a State Board of Education meeting I attended, “You parents might be allowed to homeschool but we WILL control you!”  The board, at that same meeting, established the “Northern and Southern Home School Advisory Councils to the SBOE” and attempted to use the confines of these advisory committees to control our attempts to modify regulations.  But we kept up the fight and SLOWLY got the regulations reduced, one at at time, and by 1996 we met our ultimate goal of eliminating the annual testing requirement as discrimination against homeschooled children and not required by law.

1997-2002 –  Nevada homeschool parents had regulations we could “live with.” However, the regulations were still “more restrictive” than allowed in law simply because the State Board of Education believed they were allowed to “regulate” as they saw fit no matter what the law actually said.

2002The first step towards autonomy from government control begins.  The Advisory Committees were invited by the newly elected State Board of Education President to offer the “least restrictive” regulations possible under existing law to the SBOE and those would be passed.  That task took two more years but by 2004 the regulations were as minimal as they could be under the existing statute.

2007 –  A bill is introduced in the NV State Legislature, The Homeschool Freedom Bill.  State Senator Maurice Washington (R) sponsored SB 404, to “codify” existing regulations. Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle had requested a Bill Draft Request (BDR) for homeschooling in 2006 before she left office and Senator Washington agreed to be the sponsor of the bill in 2007.  NHN (a true “grassroots” organization) wrote the bill which came out of the LCB exactly as we wrote it, a major accomplishment in and of itself, and a testament to the YEARS of experience we had in rewriting regulations and getting those approved. The Superintendent of Public Instruction at the time, Dr. Keith Rheault, was supportive of the bill.  In addition, then Assemblyman Mo Denis (D) was very helpful in ushering the bill through the NV Assembly.  SB 404 unanimously passed both the NV Senate and Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Jim Gibbons on June 14, 2007.

During the Legislative bill process, NHN produced Answers to Good Questions to explain to Legislators why we had requested SB 404. Basically, the new law moved “homeschooling” out from under the oversight of NV State Board of Education and gave parents the right to direct the education of their child based on the age and skill level of the child as determined by the parent.  By signing the Notification of Intent to Homeschool parents take FULL RESPONSIBILITY (including financial) to provide education of their child. Education neglect laws do apply to protect the interests of the child.  However, to date there has never been an accusation of education neglect against a parent in Nevada who has filed an NOI to Homeschool.

2017Nevada homeschool parents have worked hard to not only educate their children well but to defend their right to do so.  There have been many parent groups over the last 35 years working towards this goal.  NHN was founded in 2002 as a “statewide organization” by parents living in both the north and the south to work together to protect the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children via homeschooling.  Over the last 30 years Nevada parents have worked hand in hand with HSLDA to advocate for parents who are doing a GOOD job educating their own children, without “help” or oversight from the government.

There are SO many details I could add… as well as the names of ALL the parents who participated in the process over the years.  But the list is long and I may forget someone!  If you were one of those parents we want to say THANK YOU for all you did to ensure that future generations would not suffer the intolerable regulations of days gone by.  And to all you parents just starting on your homeschool journey, WELCOME… you will succeed because you care!

US Congress: HR 610 – National ESA – HSLDA Response

Okay Nevada Homeschool Parents… big FYI here.   

We knew the day would come when “government funded school choice” advocates would push their agenda to the national level to “give” us taxpayer money but in return the threat of state control of our homeschools would increase dramatically if the Feds get involved in giving “grants” to the states to fund private schools and homeschools.

Click here or read below HSLDA’s response to House Resolution 610 just introduced in the U.S. Congress.

HSLDA_Logo_Tagline_Horizontal_296x92.jpg

Dear Friend,
It has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. As homeschooling families know too well, government money will eventually lead to government control.
That’s why HSLDA is opposing a bill introduced by our friends in Congress, Rep. Steve King (IA) and Rep. Andy Harris (MD). Though well-intentioned, H.R. 610 is ultimately ill-advised. It calls for sending all federal education dollars to the states in the forms of federal grants so that the states can then give the money as vouchers to public, private, and homeschool students.
(Note: While Rep. Trent Franks (AZ) is also listed as a cosponsor of H.R. 610, we talked with him and his staff last night and they agree with our concerns about homeschooling families being included in H.R. 610. As a result, there is no need to contact his office, and we are deeply grateful to him for his commitment to protecting homeschool freedom from “help” by the federal government. Here is the statement Franks gave to us: “I understand the concerns of the homeschool community. My support for the bill only extends to vouchers for public school and private school students. If this bill moves forward, I would request that any language that would impose vouchers upon homeschools is taken out.”)
If the bill only applied to public schools and traditional brick-and-mortar private schools, HSLDA would take no official position on it. There is no question that many millions of children are stuck in public schools that fail to meet their needs, and school choice would be an incredible benefit to them.
But HSLDA has repeatedly told our friends on Capitol Hill that our members and many other homeschooling families know that government dollars will eventually result in government regulation. Although we are grateful for our friends on Capitol Hill, and although we know that representatives King and Harris are well-intentioned, they need to hear loud and clear from the homeschool community. Even though the vouchers created by H.R. 610 would be voluntary, we believe that this would be a slippery slope toward more federal involvement and control in homeschooling.
If you do not want federal government “help,” if you just want to be left alone, this is the time to speak up.
Dangers of H.R. 610 (click here to read a PDF version of the bill with page numbers cited below).
1. Elimination of language protecting homeschool freedom in U.S. Code: Page 2, paragraph (a) repeals in its entirety the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was most recently reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act. While HSLDA applauds this repeal language, as we believe that the federal government has no constitutional authority to make education decisions which should be left to state and local authorities, this full repeal would also eliminateHSLDA’s language fully protecting homeschool freedom from all federal control.
2. Creation of a “federal right to homeschool:” Page 3, Sec. 104 requires states to make certain assurances in order to receive their portion of federal education dollars. One of the requirements (paragraph (2)(A) on page 3) is that states “make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect … to home-school their child.” While this sounds good, HSLDA has fought — successfully — for decades to make sure that there is no “federal right to homeschool” because what could be created by a favorable Congress could be regulated by a future, hostile Congress. It is far better (and far more constitutionally sound) for education decisions — and homeschool freedom — to be protected at the state level. We ask our friends at the federal level to simply leave homeschooling families alone. The Constitution protects the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in its seminal cases of Meyer, Pierce, and Yoder. Federal legislation to “protect” homeschooling is unnecessary.
3. States would need to track homeschooling students:Numerous provisions in H.R. 610 require states to count the number of eligible students in their state. Page 4 says “The State shall distribute funds . . . based on the number of eligible children in the public schools . . . and . . . the number of eligible children . . . whose parents elect to send their child to a private school or to home-school their child.” Page 5 requires “on an annual basis” that school districts count the number of eligible students who attend public schools, and “whose parents elect—to send their child to a private school or to home-school their child.” There is only one way that states and school districts can do this: by requiring homeschooling families to register with them, and be tracked by the school district. This will be especially problematic in states that do not require homeschooling families to file a notice of intent with the local school district. H.R. 610 will require homeschooling families in all 50 states to register with the local school district. This would be just the first cost of “free government money.”
4. The government would now get to decide how much parents should spend on homeschooling: Paragraph (B) on page 6 requires that the federal education vouchers to parents who choose a homeschool “shall not exceed the cost of home-schooling the child.” Who will now decide how much it costs to homeschool a child? The government. Page 8 further requires that the federal education vouchers “be distributed in a manner so as to ensure that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.” This is not defined, meaning that government officials and public schools will decide what qualifies as an appropriate educational expense. HSLDA has heard over the course of 33 years from numerous parents who have elected to teach their children at home through a government-funded virtual or correspondence school. In their experience, they found their curriculum options shrunk as each choice had to pass a government litmus test.
Call Congress Now

At this point, it is only necessary to contact these sponsors of this bill, Representatives King and Harris.

If one of these is your U.S. representative, please call or email him, and politely ask him to take homeschooling families out of the bill, including homeschooling families who are defined by their state’s education law as private school students.
Please remember that these congressmen are friends of homeschooling, and that this bill is well-intentioned, but ultimately dangerous. We encourage you to identify yourself as a homeschooling parent.  Your message can be as simple as:
“As a homeschooling parent, I oppose H.R. 610. I do not want to receive federal vouchers. Government money will ultimately lead to government control and regulation, which will stifle the success of homeschooling. I am grateful for your past support of homeschool freedom, and urge that you protect the future of homeschooling by rewriting H.R. 610 to ensure that homeschools, and homeschools defined by state laws as private schools, do not receive federal money.”
You can reach these congressmen by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. If one of these members of Congress represents you, you can find his direct phone numbers and email addresses here.
If you live outside of these districts, we encourage you to take to social media to politely but firmly remind these congressmen that homeschooling families do not want federal vouchers. You can also send each congressman a letter via the United States Postal Service.
Conclusion
HSLDA opposes H.R. 610 for reasons of prudence and principle.
Once homeschools become publicly funded by the federal government, more scrutiny and more control are likely to follow. After all, homeschooling families will be spending government money, and the Congress has a keen interest in guarding the public fisc.
On principle, homeschooling has succeeded as a movement in part by being different. Unlike typical constituencies asking for our piece of the public-money pie, we have simply asked the federal government to leave us alone. This has fostered one of the most dynamic social movements of our lifetime.
The spirit of self-government at the heart of private homeschooling has led to a vibrant social network of small groups and statewide groups who depend on each other—not on the government. The homeschool movement has been a better idea because we built it ourselves.
Routinely taking federal tax dollars will enervate the movement, lead to more squabbles between families and the state, and will result in more scrutiny, oversight, and control.
Thank you for standing with us for liberty as together, we fight to keep homeschooling free.
            Will Estrada is director of HSLDA's Federal Relations.                      Mike Smith is president of HSLDA.

Education Liberty versus School Choice

As the 2017 Nevada Legislative session approaches, homeschool parents and advocates must stay engaged in the debate over “government funded school choice” and the impact on freedom; Education Liberty, or Ed Liberty for short.
We must understand and proclaim the Biblical truth that ALL parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their own children, not the state. When private schools/parents accept “taxpayer funding” the government sets up “accountability” measures that will limit their Liberty, that is the real choice each must make.

1/23/2017 – Question:  Why shouldn’t NV Legislator’s regulate self-funded homeschooling if they vote for funding the ESA program that does come under government control?

Answer:  Parents have the fundamental right to direct the health, education, and welfare of the child which is upheld in Nevada statute, case law and by the US Supreme Court. Homeschool parents in Nevada who do not accept taxpayer funding have the ultimate right and responsibility to ensure that their children are educated within the framework of the child’s age and abilities, as determined by the parent. However, the court may intercede in the event of “education neglect” as allowed in NV statute. So, in Nevada the “best interest” of a child who is homeschooled is determined by their parents or guardians, not the government, which is in line with the views of delegates to the 1884 writing of the Nevada Constitution and upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Blog Update:  January 22, 2017 – Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer Emeritus

Click here for printable version of 1/22/17 update.

Self-funded Private Education vs. Government Funded School Choice:

The Liberty of Parents and Private Schools vs. Government Control

  1. Nevada’s “Education Savings Account” program now being proclaimed “the model” for other states in the publicly funded “school choice” debate.  Or is it? 

Background:  During the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session, State Senator Scott Hammond requested a Bill Draft Resolution (BDR) for a government funded alternative education option for Nevada K-12 students. The Friedman Foundation (renamed Ed Choice in 2016) assisted Senator Hammond in the writing of SB 302, the Nevada Education Savings Account bill.  What makes Nevada’s ESA unique from existing smaller programs in four other states (Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee) is that it is “universal”, meaning it is not “means” or “needs” tested and is available to all NV public school students enrolled for a minimum of 100 days regardless of family income level or school failure rates.

Authors of SB 302 proclaimed, “It allows parents to remove their children from their assigned public schools and access a portion or all of their children’s public education funding to pay for services like private school tuition, curriculum, learning therapies, tutoring and more.” [i] This new program passed the 2015 NV Legislature along strict party lines (all Republicans in support, all Democrats opposed).[ii] [1]  Currently, state legislatures in Texas, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and even President-elect Trumps’ new administration are mulling government funded ESAs to expand “school choice” in 2017 and the Nevada ESA program is the model for many of the proposals.

An Education Savings Account (ESA) program is different from a “voucher” they say, since money from the state’s Distributive School Account (DSA) is not being paid directly from the state to a religious private school (Blaine Amendments in many state constitutions prohibit the use of public funding for sectarian purposes).  Rather, the money (between $5,100 to $5,700 in NV) is to go from the state’s Distributive School Account into the Education Savings Account in the name of the child, whose parents then choose from government “approved” resources where to spend the money so that the child receives an education as compelled by state compulsory attendance laws.[iii]  This, proponents say, means the parent, not the state, is choosing the education modality for the child and the parent is then “empowered” to choose a private religious school or use religious materials for the education of their child. The NV Supreme Court upheld this in Schwartz v. Lopez.[iv]  However, this new “empowerment” called “school choice” is still controlled by government when compared to self-funded, private homeschooling that is rooted in the parent’s right to direct the education of their child, free from government control, in other words, Education Liberty.

[1] NOTE:  Two lawsuits were filed in NV District Court in late 2015 against the new ESA program.  Both lawsuits were heard before the Nevada Supreme court and a final decision was handed down on September 29, 2016.  Although the court ruled that the ESA law does not violate the Blaine Amendment in the Nevada Constitution and allows the Legislature to use public dollars to fund an ESA program, the Legislature did violate the NV Constitution by passing the ESA bill prior to passing the education funding bill.  The NV Constitution requires that the public schools be funded before any other budget item is approved in our bi-annual sessions.  Further, the court seemed to imply that money allocated by the Legislature to the public schools cannot be used to fund an ESA for a Nevada school-age child.  This has been a pivotal element of the Ed Choice ESA school choice initiative.  Consequently, a new “funding source” will need to be found and approved by the Nevada Legislature in 2017 if the program is to see the light of day.  Further, a new funding source may impact the rest of the mechanics of the NV-ESA program and raise a new threat to private and home school autonomy. http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/16-30306-NV-SC.Schwartz-v.-Lopez-09.29.16.pdf

 

  1. The ESA law has muddied the waters for homeschoolers in Nevada!

Many parents eager to receive state funding for the education of their children are saying that the new NV-ESA program is “just a different way of homeschooling”, it is not!  Further, some elected officials are now quick to venture into this new area of “public/private ventures” in order to give parents a “choice”, at tax-payer’s expense, in the education the child receives putting other’s freedom at risk.  Let me explain.

First and foremost, Nevada parents, who choose to use the ESA program, will NOT be “homeschooling” under NV statute. Two statutes, NRS 392.070(2) and 388D.020 allow parents, who receive NO MONEY from the state, to educate their children free from government control, although educational abuse and neglect statutes do apply as safeguards.[v]  Second, “homeschooling” is legally defined in Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 385.007(3) differentiating it from “home based education” through the NV-ESA.[vi] And while imitation is the best form of flattery, Nevada Homeschool Network (NHN) became alarmed when Senator Hammond introduced an amended version of his original ESA bill in April of 2015 that no one had been able to read prior to the hearing in the NV Senate Education Committee (this seems to be a pattern repeating itself in other states in 2016 and 2017 as ESA bills are being mulled over… but not available for public review).  The proposed ESA language threatened the autonomy of self-funded homeschoolers in Nevada.

NHN initially opposed the bill, SB 302, as introduced due to the Senator’s references to homeschooling in his verbal introduction of the bill.[vii]  Both public school and homeschool students (but not existing private school students) were to be able to access ESA funding.[viii]  Further, the Senator’s initial version attempted to use the NV homeschool law as the vehicle for this new program, blurring the distinction between a self-funded homeschool child and a child receiving a “home based” education through the government approved ESA program.  However, Senator Hammond agreed to work with NHN to address our concerns.  As a result, NHN offered an amendment to SB 302 that protected NV homeschooling but established an ESA “Opt-in Child.”[ix]

The amendment proposed by NHN created a fourth option for parents to meet the compulsory attendance law, NRS 392.040 (requires a child between the age of 7 and 18 to be enrolled in a Nevada public school or receive an exemption).[x]  In addition to a public school, a private school, or a homeschool; parents of children enrolled in a public school will be able to apply for a NV-ESA grant and the child approved for the ESA program will legally be classified as an “Opt-in Child”.  These children will receive their education from an “approved” Participating Entity (PE) under the oversight of the NV State Treasurer (NST) and to a lesser extent, the NV Department of Education (NV-DOE).[xi]

Proof of this “muddying of the waters” affect has since filled pages of articles, editorials, and blogs across the country on how the government funded ESAs will provide parents more “school choice”, including “homeschooling.”  But the “unintended consequence” is that government funded ESAs have also created the opportunity for critics of a parent’s right to self-fund and direct the education of their child FREE from government control to call for more regulation of “homeschooling” whether it is funded by the government or not.  For instance, merely by substituting the word “home-school” for an “ESA Opt-in Child”, a NV teacher’s union lobbyist is now proving our point by seemingly calling for tighter rules “on homeschooling” if the NV-ESA is to be funded as stated by John Vellardita, Executive Director of Clark County Education Association, “…means testing or tightening the rules for home-school parents could potentially be among the union’s proposals regarding ESAs.”[xii] Granted, Mr. Vellardita probably doesn’t even know the legal distinction but that was the very point we were trying to make to the Nevada Legislature two years ago!

Just as people often confuse “virtual charter schools” attended by public school children “at home” with “parent funded/directed homeschooling”, government funded ESAs will added another layer of confusion in the minds of everyone!  This “muddying of the waters” will bring into question just who IS ultimately responsible to provide education to children, the parent(s) or the state?  Thankfully, US Supreme Court decisions through the years have agreed that parents have the fundamental right to direct the education of their child and are therefore ultimately responsible for the education of the child.[xiii]  Despite these decisions; elected officials, “think tanks”, journalists, and others have a tendency to infringe on these rights with support for “well-meaning” but none-the-less invasive government programs without regard for Education Liberty.

 

  1. Applications, approvals, regulations, and requirements – let’s understand a government funded ESA (not to be confused with a parent-funded “Coverdell” ESA).

To qualify for the NV-ESA program, a child must first be enrolled full-time in a public school or public charter school for not less than 100 consecutive days just prior to applying for the ESA grant.[xiv]  Current private school and/or homeschool children are not eligible.  However, these children may enroll in a public school for 100 days to become eligible relinquishing their private school or homeschool status.

Once approved for the ESA, parents may then choose an approved Participating Entity (PE) to provide education to the child.  A Nevada private school (licensed or exempt), a regionally or nationally accredited private online school, an “eligible institution” defined as a NV college or university, a state or regionally certified tutor or tutoring agency, or a parent may all apply to become a Participating Entity.[2]  It is the “Participating Entity” (or a combination of PE’s) that will provide an education to a NV Opt-in Child.  The Nevada State Treasurer is responsible for annually approving all ESA Opt-in students as well as Participating Entities and curriculum purchased through the ESA program.[xv]

The approved PE provides the education to the child, meets applicable state requirements (including annual testing of the child with any norm-referenced national standardized test in mathematics and English language arts), and is paid from the ESA by the parent for their services.  A parent who has been approved as a PE may purchase approved curriculum and materials (the current State Treasurer is saying, as long as the curriculum is “educational” it will be approved), the annual standardized test for the child, and/or pay fees associated with services provided by other approved Participating Entities (including transportation costs) using the funds in an ESA.  Parents may not pay themselves for teaching the child, or anyone else directly teaching the child, who is not an approved Participating Entity, nor pay for additional “non-educational” expenses such as private athletics participation.[xvi]

[2] On December 1, 2016, during a National Summit on School Choice through ESAs, Mr. Grant Hewitt, Chief of Staff for the Nevada State Treasurer noted a problem with the definition for “Participating Entities” in the new law.  Currently, there are no “state or regional certification systems” for tutors or tutoring agencies.  Thus, only a NV certified teacher may be approved by the State Treasurer.  This creates greater restrictions than intended by the bill’s author for the ESA program. Mr. Hewitt’s testimony begins at the 35:27 minute marker on this video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=jxhgaYjMuqE&app=desktop

 

  1. Aside from all the “hoops” to maneuver through, an ESA sounds great, right? Then why should self-funded homeschool parents be concerned with government funded school choice?

Whenever state funding is involved in the education of a child there must be accountability to the tax-payer for the use of that money.  New state imposed “accountability measures” on both the public school system and public charter schools, over the last several years, is what (at least in part) has spurred the government funded school choice movement due to the failure of public schools to meet these accountability standards.  Self-funded homeschooling in Nevada assures the parent who takes full responsibility for the education of the child (including the financial burden) of their fundamental parental rights free from government control.

When NHN first became aware of the push to utilize public funding for the education of children in a non-public school in Nevada we issued a position statement opposing the use of such funds for homeschooling in Nevada which in part reads,

  • Whereas, NHN is concerned that alternative education funding programs intending to benefit a student with a government controlled “choice in education” will jeopardize homeschool autonomy from government oversight; now, therefore,
  • NHN is opposed to adoption of any alternative education program in this state that utilizes taxpayer funding, either directly or indirectly, on behalf of a child who is being homeschooled pursuant to NRS 392.070, including government controlled voucher programs and Education Savings Accounts. [xvii]

Our chief concern was and remains with the “controls”, including future controls, the government will put on the private school, education provider, and/or parent who accept ESA funding under the guise of “accountability” for the use of tax-payer money, essentially creating a system that ultimately requires children to be educated to the satisfaction of the government, not the parent.  Two points need to be made:

a)  Could private schools, education providers, and parents who accept government funding through an ESA, now in actuality, be considered a “public school” under federal or state law? There a differing opinions on this.  However, the Nevada Supreme Court said in the recent decision on Swartz v. Lopez, “Sb 302 does not alter the existence or structure of the public school system.  Nor does SB 302 transform private schools or its other participating entities into public schools.”[xviii]

b)  But the court also acknowledged the Legislature’s responsibility in establishing requirements for the operation of the ESA program, “We recognize the ESA program imposes conditions on the parents’ use of the funds in their account and also provides State oversight of the education savings accounts to ensure those conditions are met.”[xix] It is the “conditions” of State oversight, which may be changed by the State Legislature, that pose the greatest concern and establish the fact that the government, not just the parent, serves to monitor the child’s education within the ESA.

If the NV-ESA program is ever funded by the NV State Legislature, Participating Entities receiving ESA funds will be held accountable to the tax-payer for the education of the child. Under existing NV statute “Exempt” Private Schools and Homeschools are not “accountable” to the state beyond modest “notification” requirements precisely because they receive no tax-payer funding from the state.[xx] While “accountability” in the 2015 NV-ESA law is currently quite low (assuming you don’t mind your child being enrolled in a public school for 100 days, all the paperwork, submitting your child an annual nationally standardized test in all grades, and submitting results to the state for inclusion in the State Longitudinal Data System), these accountability measures will remain as is only depending on who controls the Legislature and the Governor’s office at any given time.  This is the “slippery slope” for self-funded homeschoolers and raises more questions: 

c)  While NV homeschoolers currently enjoy the hard-won freedom to direct the education of their children free from government control with the passage of the Homeschool Freedom Bill in 2007[xxi], will parents providing a “home based” education utilizing an ESA be as dedicated to the academic success of their children as traditional, self-funded homeschoolers have proven to be over the past 35+ years?

Dr. Brian Ray, National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) provides the following information on students being educated via a self-funded, private homeschool:

Academic Performance

  • The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50thpercentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015).
  • Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
  • Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.
  • Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.
  • Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
  • Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges. [xxii]

d)  If private schools, education providers, and parents receiving tax-payer funds are increasingly “regulated” by the state either due to fraud or abuse of the program, or an ESA Opt-in child simply doesn’t perform well on an annual test; what will stop the state from trying to regulate self-funded homeschoolers and private schools not accepting government funded vouchers or ESAs as well?

Matthew Gerwitz, a homeschool parent in Florida addressed the concerns of freedom loving homeschool parents across the nation in 2015, “Even if school vouchers (or now ESAs) were offered with the best intentions, they could never remain that way because government, by default, seeks to control,” he said. “School vouchers are a bad idea that should be avoided at every level — especially among homeschoolers.” “There is no need to eat the ‘king’s meat,’” Gerwitz continued. “Homeschoolers do not need the good graces of government to do what’s right by their kids; non-homeschoolers need to learn to stop depending on the government as surrogate parents. Vouchers are completely unnecessary if parents do their jobs.” [xxiii]

History shows us that as control of state legislatures change from election to election so do the laws and regulations citizens and businesses must operate under dependent on “who” is in control of state government. As Kathy Thomsen said in 2010, Drafters of school choice legislation attempt to convince patrons that laws can be crafted with appropriate language to assure complete autonomy that protect private schools. Abundant evidence proves such assurances cannot be trusted.”[xxiv] Education Liberty is at risk each time state legislatures are in session.

No legislation can be written that can’t or won’t be reversed or added to in successive legislative sessions. Now that the NV Legislature shifted from Republican back to Democratic control in the 2016 election, this has raised considerable doubt for the future of the NV-ESA program due to the funding problems created by the NV Supreme Court decision in Schwarz v Lopez plus the fact that Democrats unanimously opposed the 2015 ESA bill .[xxv]  Further, as the public-at-large questions how ESA dollars are spent, additional “controls” are more likely than not to be put in place restricting the freedom of private schools, providers  and/or parents accepting the funding.

 

  1. What might be other “negative” consequences to public funding of private education?

If Nevada’s Republican Governor and the Democrat-controlled 2017 NV Legislature do decide to find funding elsewhere in the state budget for the ESA, the program will be adapted with new tighter controls according to Nevada Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams.[xxvi]  This will raise even more questions.

a)  Will tax-payers then have a new “subsidy” or entitlement program to worry about?

b)  Will taxes be continually raised to fund public/charter schools AND now government funded school choice as well?

c)  Will the general public be supportive of tax dollars being spent on private schools, education providers, or in their neighbor’s home or will they consider ESAs and vouchers to be redistribution of wealth?

d)  Are vouchers and ESAs and their “accountability strings” just another form of public education due to the requirement of an annual nationally norm-referenced assessment for the child?

e)  Would tax-credit scholarship organizations or tax-credits for parents who choose to educate their children outside of the public school system be less government dependent and less intrusive?

These questions remain to be answered as the saga of “government funded school choice” unfolds in the years ahead.  But studies are now indicating, despite all the claims of “excellence”; former public school students currently attending private schools in states with voucher programs ARE NOT testing any better than their public school age-mates.[xxvii]  This should be of great concern; the autonomy from public education that private and home schools currently have in most states is at great risk.  Homeschoolers should fully understand that accepting funding from the government will bring limits to the moral decisions parents make about education provided to their child.

And now the federal government is looking to fund “school choice?”  As Jane Robbins of American Principals Project points out, “While efforts to shatter the government monopoly on education are laudable, extreme caution must be exercised to ensure – if this is even possible – that when government money follows the child, government regulations don’t follow as well.”[xxviii] A “Trojan Horse” may indeed be in our presence.

 

  1. Do “school choice” advocates really care about YOUR children? Or is it all about “breaking the monopoly” of the Constitution-required provision of a public school system?

In NHN’s discussions with Ed Choice during the 2015 NV Legislative session it became abundantly clear they do not understand the “liberty issue” that self-funded homeschool parents have advanced nationwide for the last thirty-five years.  Ed Choice, Excel in Ed[xxix], The Heritage Foundation[xxx], (check the donor lists for these groups) and many other “think tanks” are apparently willing to see homeschools and private schools become collateral damage in their quest to acquire the holy grail of school choice.  Ed Choice has expressed that “some accountability to the government” is “reasonable” if schools, education service providers and/or parents accept tax-payer funding, all in the name of “breaking the public school monopoly.”

Truth be told, advocates of government funded school choice seem to have no problem with ALL parents being held accountable to the government for the education of the parent’s child, just ask them.  Further, government funded assistance programs undermine the liberty of private schools and homeschools to make the educational decisions for the children they teach.  School choice advocates say, “It’s only a test, and it’s reasonable to require a test to ensure the child is being educated.”  Our response is no, it is not if the test doesn’t reflect the material the child has been taught. A “national” test promotes the existing public education model, making all citizens conform to this model is not “choice”, nor is it FREEDOM.  If homeschool parents or private schools want to use “nationally norm-referenced tests” to see where their child stands in relationship to public school students that’s fine, but we don’t support the concept of state mandated testing for all children to “prove” the “correct” education is being provided, that is where this is all leading whether parents or schools accept public funding or not.

But Nevada homeschool parents can find a silver lining in the court battle over the ESA program with this nugget of information from the Schwarz v. Lopez decision,

“And although the debates surrounding the enactment of Article 11 reveal that the delegates discussed the establishment of a system of public education and its funding, they also noted the importance of parental freedom over the education of their children, rejected the notion of making public school attendance compulsory, and acknowledged the need to vest the Legislature with discretion over education into the future. See Debates &Proceedings of the Nevada State Constitutional Convention of 1864, at 565-77 (Andrew J. Marsh off. rep., 1866); see also Thomas W. Stewart & Brittany Walker, Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts: A Constitutional Analysis (2016) (Nevada Supreme Court Summaries), http://scholars.law.unlv.eduffivscs/950, at 12-15 (discussing the history of Nevada Constitution Article 11, Section 2).”[xxxi]

The fact that delegates to the Nevada State Constitutional Convention of 1864 recognized and declared “parental freedom over the education of their children” and “rejected the notion of making public school attendance compulsory” should give Nevada HOMESCHOOL parents security in fighting any attempts to regulate or control homeschooling beyond that which is currently provided in law in future Nevada Legislative Sessions.

Although School Choice advocates like to say, “government funded school choice empowers parents”, they seem to have little understanding or regard for the fundamental rights of parents to direct the health, education, and welfare of the child FREE from government control.  “School Choice” is about government control of the education provided to a child.  It is not about education provided through private schools or homeschooling free from those controls.  NHN has developed an excellent chart, Education Choice Options in Nevada, showing who controls the education of the child dependent on what “choice” of education modality the parent makes. [xxxii]

 

  1. Several state legislatures are now considering ESA bills, is yours?

Homeschool parents in states considering education reform bills need to fully understand that state-funded ESA grants have accountability strings attached.  Parents who choose to NOT accept state funding must be vigilant in protecting their state homeschool and/or private school law!  The success of homeschooling is without question but now imitators seek to capitalize on the hard work of parents who have dedicated their lives to their children via self-funded, private homeschooling.  We must continue to educate parents in the biblical and moral “choice” to educate their children either through homeschooling or private schools without accepting funding from the state or federal government… or we risk losing that right entirely.

  • IAHE Action, facing the threat of an ESA program in Indiana, has many excellent blog posts expressing their concerns with ESAs.[xxxiii]
  • Idaho homeschoolers (CHOIS & ICHE) are gearing up for a possible fight in their state in and have an excellent article on this topic as well, Coming Soon: FREE MONEY.[xxxiv]
  • Oklahoma homeschool leader, Cindy Nicolai (Constitutional Home Educators Alliance) presented an excellent “Pinocchio” analogy at the 2016 HSLDA Leadership Conference on why homeschoolers should avoid government funded school choice. [xxxv]
  • To date, Homeschool parents in Texas, Missouri, Michigan, Connecticut, and other states are also grappling with potential government funded school choice bills.

 

  1. The battle for homeschool freedom continues…

In the 2001 article, Charter Schools: The Battle for Homeschool Freedom, homeschool champion Christopher J. Klicka said, Freedom is the answer. Freedom, I believe, is more important than “freebies.”[xxxvi]  How succinct!  And lest we think that today, after 3 decades of success, no one could possibly object to parent funded and controlled education Dr. Brian Ray reminds us otherwise in his recently published article, Despising Homeschooling: Contorting Rights on the mindset of the “education elites.”[xxxvii]  We must continue the battle for Education Liberty for the sake of future generations.

To that end, NHN and NV homeschoolers will remain adamant in defending the homeschool law and protecting themselves from being lumped in with “Public School at Home” students (virtual charter schools) and now “ESA Opt-in” children.  As stated earlier, NV homeschoolers are not accountable to the public school system or state government because we receive no money from the state.  Further, NV homeschool parents take “full responsibility”, including the financial burden, for the education of their child.  NV homeschoolers will not abdicate the right and responsibility to educate our own children, as we see fit, to the government.

We encourage homeschool leaders and parents across the country to do the same; understand that your children do not belong to the state, but are in fact, your prodigy, and as such your responsibility.  We must stand up to the powerful financial influences that intend for government to retake control of ALL education provided to children in the United States.  School choice vouchers and ESAs are just the first steps towards this ultimate but often unstated goal of education reformers.

  1. Concluding Thoughts
  • Perhaps voucher/ESA grant programs will be beneficial in spite of the government controls placed on them and will provide some parents more options in the education of their children for those willing to accept the yoke.
  • While NHN supports the concept of ESA’s for parents who voluntarily choose to use them, self-funded HOMESCHOOLING without government funding/controls – “Parent Responsibility-based Education”, must remain intact.
  • However, the line of demarcation between “private” and “public” education is fast disappearing and it is not inconceivable that government will once again seep into our “private” lives because of those looking for financial assistance from the government to educate their own children.
  • The waters are becoming muddied as evidence by those parents who are demanding “their fair share” of tax-payer money, desiring to use government funding to educate their children at home and yet insist they are the same as self-funded homeschoolers and not “just” parents providing a government approved home based education.
  • NHN Officers continue to be watchful and strive to educate parents, leaders, and public officials; self-funded, private homeschooling is an Education Liberty issue in our state.

On a personal note, I began homeschooling my children in 1990 at which time I joined other parents fighting for homeschool freedom in Nevada, one of most restrictive states to homeschool in at that time.  As a result, I know all too well how easy it is for elected, appointed, and/or employed government bureaucrats to say that ALL education of children in the state must be regulated by government.  We must not go back to Egypt!

Please, please take the time to educate yourselves on the differences between homeschooling and government-funded education programs.  Continued homeschool FREEDOM/LIBERTY is dependent on staying informed and engaged.

 

_____________________________________

[i] Ed Choice, Robert Enlow President. From their website; https://www.edchoice.org/school-choice/types-of-school-choice/

[ii] Nevada State Legislature, 2015, Final Votes on SB 302; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/78th2015/Reports/history.cfm?ID=705

[iii] Ed Choice, from their website page on the Nevada program; https://www.edchoice.org/school-choice/programs/nevada-education-savings-accounts/

[iv] Nevada Supreme Court, ”The parent decides where to spend that money for the child’s education and may choose from a variety of participating entities, including religious and non-religious schools.”, page 24, Swartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.2016, http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/16-30306-NV-SC.Schwartz-v.-Lopez-09.29.16.pdf

[v] Nevada Homeschool Network, Nevada Homeschool Laws; http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/legal/nevada-homeschooling-laws/

[vi] Nevada Revised Statute, 385.007 (3), https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-385.html#NRS385Sec007

[vii] Hammond, Senator Scott, Nevada Senate Education Committee Hearing on SB 302, 04.14.2015; http://nvleg.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=14&clip_id=4302

[viii] 2015 NV Legislative session, Senate Bill 302 As Introduced 04.14.2015; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/78th2015/Bills/SB/SB302.pdf

[ix] Nevada State Legislature, 2015, SB 302,  Amendment No. 639; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/78th2015/Bills/Amendments/A_SB302_639.pdf

[x] Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 392.040; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-392.html#NRS392Sec040

[xi] Nevada State Legislature, 2015, SB 302, As Enrolled; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/78th2015/Bills/SB/SB302_EN.pdf

[xii] Editorial, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12.17.2016; http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-advancing-parental-choice

[xiii] Klicka, Christopher J., Decisions of the United States Supreme Court Upholding Parental Rights as “Fundamental”, HSLDA, 10.27.03; https://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000075.asp

[xiv] Nevada Revised Statutes – NRS 353B.850, http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-353B.html#NRS353BSec850

[xv] Schwatz, Dan, Nevada State Treasurer, ESA website; http://www.nevadatreasurer.gov/SchoolChoice/Home/

[xvi] Nevada Revised Statutes – NRS 353B.870; http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-353B.html#NRS353BSec870

[xvii] Nevada Homeschool Network, position statement, 01.18.2015; http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Alternative-Education-Funding-Programs-NHN-Position-Statement.pdf

[xviii] Nevada Supreme Court, page 18, Schwartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.16, http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/16-30306-NV-SC.Schwartz-v.-Lopez-09.29.16.pdf

[xix] Nevada Supreme Court, page 25, Schwartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.2016, http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/16-30306-NV-SC.Schwartz-v.-Lopez-09.29.16.pdf

[xx] Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 394.211; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-394.html#NRS394Sec211 and NRS 388D.020; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-388D.html#NRS388DSec020

[xxi] Nevada State Legislature, 2007, SB 404; https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/74th2007/Reports/history.cfm?ID=977

[xxii] Ray, Brian D., PhD,  Research Facts on Homeschooling, NHERI, 03.23.2016; http://nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html

[xxiii] Barry, Dr. Susan, Why Homeschoolers Don’t Want School Vouchers, Breitbart, 05.28.2015; http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/05/28/why-homeschoolers-dont-want-school-vouchers/

[xxiv] Thomsen, Kathy, The Trojan Horse of “Choice”, Idaho Observer, 2010; http://www.proliberty.com/observer/20100417.htm

[xxv] Whitaker, Ian, Is the ESA program dead in Nevada?, Las Vegas Sun, 11.21.2016;  http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/nov/21/is-the-esa-program-dead-in-nevada/

[xxvi] Rindels, Michelle and Mello, Felicia, Associated Press/Las Vegas Sun,11.09.2016; https://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/nov/09/blue-wave-sweeps-democrats-back-to-control-in-neva/

[xxvii] Dynarski, Mark, Report on Negative Effects of Vouchers, Brookings, 05.26.2016; https://www.brookings.edu/research/on-negative-effects-of-vouchers/

[xxviii] Robbins, Jane,  New GOP Platform: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Concerning, The Pulse, 07.19.2016; http://thepulse2016.com/jane-robbins/2016/07/19/first-look-at-gop-platform/

[xxix] Excel in Ed, Jeb Bush, http://www.excelined.org/

[xxx] The Heritage Foundation, website on Education; http://www.heritage.org/issues/education

[xxxi] Nevada Supreme Court, bottom of page 19, Schwartz v. Lopez, Case No. 69611, 09.29.2016, http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/16-30306-NV-SC.Schwartz-v.-Lopez-09.29.16.pdf

[xxxii] Schnorbus, Frank and Dragon, Barbara, Educational Choice Options in Nevada, Nevada Homeschool Network, June 2016; http://nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Nevada-Parental-Choice-Options.2016.June_.pdf

[xxxiii]IAHE Action Blog, Indiana; http://iaheaction.net/blog/

[xxxiv] Peters, Barry, Coming Soon: FREE MONEY!, Christian Homeschoolers of Idaho State Connection,  Fall 2016; http://chois.org/chois-connection/current-issue/

[xxxv] Nicolai, Cindy, The Truth About ESAs, HSLDA Leadership Conference, September 2016, https://media.wix.com/ugd/70a8b6_01fde200e2da4403acf1991494cbbecb.pdf

[xxxvi] Klicka, Christopher J., Charter Schools: The Battle for the Soul of Homeschooling, Homeschool World, 2001; http://www.home-school.com/Articles/charter-schools-the-battle-for-the-soul-of-homeschooling.php

[xxxvii] Ray, Brian D., PhD, Despising Homeschooling: Contorting Rights, National Home Education Research Institute, 09.2016; http://archive.aweber.com/nheri2010-1/Gv6r8/h/Despising_Homeschooling_.htm