For Immediate Release: Children’s right to an education must be carefully safeguarded
01/22/2020–The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, has raised concerns that a parental rights bill in Florida, House Bill 1059, could have a negative impact on homeschooled children. HB 1059, which is sponsored by representatives Erin Gall (R) and Daniel Perez, will come before the House Education Committee on Thursday. A duplicate of this bill, sponsored by State Senator Kelli Stargel (R), is scheduled to be introduced in the Florida Senate later this week as well (SB 1634).
Florida’s homeschool law, which was first passed in 1985, includes an annual academic assessment and authorizes school districts to review a portfolio of students’ work. CRHE is concerned that HB 1059 could overturn these safeguards, perhaps inadvertently. HB 1059 states that “the right to direct the education and care of his or her minor child” is “reserved to the parent … without obstruction or interference from the state … or any other government entity.”
“Parents’ right to choose how to educate their children must be balanced with children’s right to receive an education,” says Samantha Field, CRHE’s government relations director. “HB 1059 eliminates that balance.” Field warns that under HB 1059, requirements designed to protect children may be overturned as unlawful “interference” by a government entity.
While many homeschooled children receive a good education in a safe home environment, this is not always the case. Field herself was homeschooled in Florida, but her parents and others in her local community used an “umbrella” school to skirt the requirements of the state’s homeschool law. “I know first hand how important the requirements in the homeschool laws are because I experienced what life was like without them,” she said. “Of the children I grew up with, my sister and I are the only ones who have managed to scrape our way toward an education that allows us to pursue personal fulfillment and happiness. Everyone else is unemployed, dependent on government assistance, in jail, or dealing with the huge gaps in their ‘education.’”
CRHE warns that HB 1059 would create a heavy legal imbalance between the rights of children and the rights of parents in the state of Florida, leaving significant unchecked power in the hands of abusive parents that would prevent minor children from accessing help in a crisis. The impact on homeschooled children, they warn, will be especially significant.
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.
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