Pennsylvania’s HB 1013 is Bad for Homeschooling
Eleven states include a portfolio option in their homeschool law. Under this option, homeschool parents put together a portfolio of each student’s work which is then reviewed and evaluated by a qualified individual. CRHE supports such evaluations because we believe accountability is healthy and good for homeschooling families and communities. Portfolio evaluations add not only accountability for homeschool parents, but also encourage parents to receive input and advice about their children’s education. These two actions help to promote the quality of homeschooled students’ education.
Unfortunately, only 1 of those 11 states — Pennsylvania — ensures accountability for the individuals who evaluate homeschooled students’ annual portfolios. PA is the only state that actually requires the supervisor of the home education program (the parent) to provide the superintendent of the local school with both a portfolio of the student’s work and a written evaluation of the student’s educational progress composed by a teacher or other professional.
Even more unfortunately, a bill that just passed the PA House of Representatives — HB 1013 — would eliminate this requirement. On July 1, HB 1013 cleared the House and has now been referred to the Senate Education Committee. HSLDA, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, has thrown their support behind HB 1013, specifically stating that it would “Eliminate the public school superintendent’s review of portfolios” and urging their members to “Contact members of the House Education Committee and urge them to vote for HB 1013!”
The Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP) has also rallied behind HB 1013’s irresponsible advocacy of accountability removal. CHAP created a Change.org petition in support of the bill, falsely stating in the petition that “studies also indicate that homeschoolers in low-regulation, mid-regulation, and high-regulation states (such as Pennsylvania and New York) all perform approximately equally in standardized testing, and in every case outperform public school testing results.” Accurate reviews of what those studies actually say can be viewed here.
CRHE profoundly disagrees with HSLDA, CHAP, and advocates of HB 1013. We believe that eliminating PA’s requirement of portfolio review would be irresponsible and would take away an important tool that can protect homeschooled students and encourage those students’ teachers to ensure a quality education. We hope that all states will adopt a portfolio review requirement because we believe that checks and balances between state, government, and child are both common sense and integral to children’s best interests. Testimonies by homeschool alumni give voice to what happens when such checks and balances are neglected. Kierstyn and Teresa’s testimonials, in particular, reveal how badly things can go when there is no accountability included in a state’s portfolio requirement.
CRHE applauds Pennsylvania’s current homeschool statute as the only homeschool statute in the country that provides accountability for portfolio evaluators. We urge the PA Senate Education Committee to reject HB 1013 to ensure this fact does not change — for the sake of both homeschooled children and homeschooling parents.
HB 1013 is sponsored by Representative Mark M. Gillen, who can be reached at his home office at (610) 775-5130 or at his capitol office at (717) 787-8550.
TAKE ACTION AGAINST HB 1013
Please take a stand for PA’s homeschooled children and against HB 1013 by emailing or calling the following 11 members of the Senate Education Committee. Their contact information is provided in the links below. There is also a sample email template to help you craft your own message to each senator based on your personal homeschool experience.
Also, please spread the word on social media that HB 1013 is bad for homeschooled children! If you’re using Facebook or Twitter, use the hashtag #HB1013.
Contact Information for PA Senate Education Committee Members:
1. Senator Mike Folmer, Committee Chair: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=1080
2. Senator Andrew E. Dinniman, Committee Minority Chair: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=1049
3. Senator Lloyd K. Smucker: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=1185
4. Senator Joseph B. Scarnati III: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=283
5. Senator Patrick M. Browne: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=76
6. Senator Jake Corman: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=251
7. Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=173
8. Senator Robert M. Tomlinson: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=151
9. Senator Daylin Leach: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=991
10. Senator Rob Teplitz: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=1628
11. Senator Anthony H. Williams: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?id=153
Sample Email to Send Each Senator:
Dear Senator ______,
My name is ________. I am a former homeschool student and graduate. I was homeschooled for ____ years. I am writing to you today in opposition to HB 1013 — the “Homeschool Portfolio Evaluations” bill sponsored by Representative Gillen and currently referred before the Senate Education Committee on which you serve.
It might seem strange to you that I, as a homeschool student and graduate, would oppose this bill when you have likely heard so much support for it from HSLDA, CHAP, and other homeschool organizations as of late. So let me explain: All those “homeschool” lobbyists are lobbying for the voices of parents and extremists, not actual homeschool kids or alumni — like me — who have first hand experience of what it is like to be homeschooled without a good system of checks and balances to ensure a kid receives a good education. As someone who has that first-hand experience actually being homeschooled, let me assure you that PA’s law – that requires portfolio review and quality assurance — is one of a kind. Literally: no other state has such a good law. And HB 1013 would eliminate this unique and positive aspect of PA’s homeschool oversight.
I could tell you stories of real homeschool students and alumni from other states who suffered because those states did NOT have a law like PA’s. So for the sake of homeschooled children and graduates everywhere, I urge you to not put your own state’s homeschool kids at risk. Please vote to protect us homeschoolers by voting against HB 1013.