There are two House bills and two Senate bills under consideration in the Utah Legislature which are aimed squarely at challenging the right of parents to choose home education for their children.
The obvious strategy of these pieces of legislation is twofold. First, our legislators are moving to classify home-schooled children (among others) as "at risk" children. Senate Bill 43 lowers the mandatory age at which a child must start school from six to five years of age. There is a home-school waiver written into the bill. However, this waiver would only be available from the State Board of Education and not the local school board.If your child does not begin kindergarten at age 5, he/she is automatically labeled as an "at risk" child. Senate Bill 25 also aims to take control of our children away from us and the local school board and put it under the jurisdiction of the state board.
Second, the authors of these bills are moving quickly to eradicate the rights and responsibilities of parents to impart the values and morals of their world view to their children. The state wants to ensure that no child is denied the benefits of being properly indoctrinated with their "politically correct" (read anti-Judeo/Christian) agenda.
House Bill 39 tightens the noose a bit further by specifically targeting home-schooled children (as well as others with such childhood ailments as asthma, etc.) as being "at risk" children.
This begs the question: "At risk" of what? At risk of not skipping submissively down the path of political correctness, moral relativism, disrespect of God and parents? At risk of consistently outperforming their public school peers in all standardized testing?
This bill will provide an additional $539,000 in federal funds to Utah schools but only by creating a new subclass of children not currently on public school roles - home schoolers, most notably.
House Bill 76 lowers the boom on parental discretion in your child's education. It is called the "Education Neglect Bill" and again takes aim at home-schooled children. When parents decide to pursue their constitutionally protected option to educate their children at home, they must, in the state of Utah, sign and return a letter exempting their children from the public school system in which they reside.
These letters have gone into compiling a list of alleges "at risk" children who are now being targeted. This bill authorizes state education authorities already trained to mandate the inclusion of federally recommended "services" to the home school. The wording of the bill reads "to make your Homeschool educationally correct."
If a home-schooling parent declines the recommendations, these agencies will begin court proceedings to charge the parents with educational neglect and possibly remove the children from the home.
The implications of the above pieces of legislation are clear. If these bills pass, a mortal blow will have been struck to our ability to choose the values we wish to impart to our children. The battle for our children's souls and minds is under way.
Responsible parents and citizens who do not wish to relinquish their responsibility to guide their children must protest these insidious bills to their respective legislators. To do anything less is to surrender the battle without a fight.
Kevin R. Hill