It has come to our attention that some believe HB 1591 does not affect homeschoolers. They said they have read the bill, but do not understand why IAHE Action has concerns because they do not see homeschoolers mentioned. We can understand their confusion. At first glance, it does not appear to include homeschoolers.
Fortunately, we knew about this bill last summer when a concerned homeschooler from Columbus contacted IAHE Action after Representative Lucas informed her he intended to include homeschoolers. When we first read the bill, it was not obvious that it affected us. Nevertheless, we sent it to HSLDA for a legal opinion.
HSLDA informed us that, indeed, this bill will allow a homeschooler to become an “approved service provider.” The yet to be determined criteria and procedure will be developed by the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) and approved by the state Treasurer. No one really knows the standards a person must meet to receive money under this account, but there is currently nothing that would prohibit a parent educating their child at home to receive an EOA voucher. HSLDA has warned homeschoolers about the danger of vouchers for many years. This bill requires teaching certain subjects and allows a list of government-approved vendors from which to choose.
IAHE Action understands education policy, Education Reform, School Choice, the School to Prison Pipeline issue, and the General Assembly, so we knew if homeschoolers received taxpayer dollars, regulation was not far behind.
Michael Petrilli of Fordham Institute recently wrote that if you oppose vouchers because the private schools aren’t accountable, you should “think again” — the best voucher programs, supported by Betsy DeVos, have strong accountability measures. Unfortunately, they have removed the link, but you can read another statement linking ESA/EOA/Vouchers to accountability above.
At a minimum, it would include assessments and data collection. This has been the goal of Teachers unions and some members of the General Assembly for many years. Unfortunately, we are now hearing it from our “friends.” The bill sponsor said, “There would be growth assessments to make sure the parent is giving the taxpayers their monies worth.” For the first time in Indiana history, the State will have inserted itself between a homeschool parent and a homeschool child should this language become law. Being accountable to God for the education and upbringing of your child is no longer sufficient. You will now be obligated to relinquish control of your child’s education in order to receive taxpayer money. They are returning your taxpayer money with strings attached. That sure doesn’t sound like freedom.
A simple amendment added to a bill can change everything. This tale is from Well Versed by James L. Garlow. The opening story explains the DEEP IMPACT of one “small” amendment. While it does not expressly deal with homeschooling, it does convey just how a few words can radically change the entire trajectory of a law.
A small amendment authored by Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) in 1955 in an innocuous federal tax bill silenced Pastors for the next 60 years. Because two individuals opposed LBJ’s re-election to the Senate in 1954 through their not-for-profit organizations, the future president passed an amendment without discussion by voice vote on what pastors supposedly could say from the pulpit regarding politics for the next 60 years. LBJ only intended to silence two individuals, but this one “little” rule affected all 501(c)(3) non-profits.
Here’s the dirty little secret, “Johnson’s legislative aide would later admit that they did not have churches and pastors in mind, only these two businessmen and their organizations.” (Karla Dial, “Aiming for Goliath,” Citizen Magazine, August 2008, p. 26.)
So we shouldn’t listen to what legislators “say”, but watch what they do! And words mean things!
Keep circulating the petition to increase homeschoolers’ awareness of this ESA/EOA/voucher issue. The House Education Committee Chairman told IAHE Action he would not hear the bill. Unfortunately, the language can be placed in another bill as an amendment, which we hear is a real possibility. You may read the letter we sent Representative Lucas about his bill, HB 1591.