by Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs
Success Builds for Sports Access and Curriculum Description Bills; VaHomeschoolers’ Meeting with Virginia PTA President-elect
HB 947, patroned by Del. Robert Bell (R-Charlottesville), which would allow homeschooled students an opportunity to try out for sports and other programs at their local public high schools, has reached another new milestone.
This afternoon the bill received a favorable vote (59-39) on the House floor, which means it is now headed for the Senate. The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is very pleased with the outcome of our efforts on this legislation — but we give most of the credit to homeschooling families, who attended House subcommittee and committee hearings to show their support and to allow their children to testify, and who have been contacting their delegates to explain why this bill matters to them.
If your delegate voted in favor of HB 947 (check the link above to find out), it would be a nice gesture to send him or her a quick thank-you via email, letter, or phone call, to express your appreciation.
The sports access bill moves on to the Senate next, where it will go through the same process it has in the House: it will be assigned to the Senate Education and Health Committee, and will likely begin its Senate journey with a subcommittee hearing. If it survives the subcommittee, it will be put before the committee, and then be debated on the Senate floor. Governor Robert McDonnell has already said that he will sign the bill if it gets to his desk.
Opponents of the bill, including the Virginia High School League, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, the Virginia School Boards Association and the Virginia Education Association, will continue to lobby hard against it. Homeschooling families who would like to see sports access become law should telephone their Senators later this week or early next week.
Curriculum Description Bills Making Progress
Two bills aimed at clarifying the curriculum description requirement of Virginia’s home instruction statute have met with success in the General Assembly. HB 1208, patroned by Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg), received strong support on the floor of the House of Delegates this past Thursday, garnering a vote of 77 delegates in favor and 23 opposed.
An identical bill, SB 564, patroned by Sen. Dick Black (R-Leesburg), was placed on the Senate’s “uncontested calendar” (a system for voting for non-controversial bills in a single bloc) this past Friday, thereby receiving unanimous support. These bills have each “crossed over” to the opposite House, where they will first be considered at the committee level. We expect that because they are identical bills, they will quickly be approved in committee and move on to success on the floors of the House and Senate, and finally be sent to the Governor, who already has indicated his support.
VaHomeschoolers supports both curriculum description bills.
Meeting with Virginia PTA President-elect
VaHomeschoolers’ Director of Government Affairs, Amy Wilson, along with Priscilla Martinez, a former board member and current volunteer on our Government Affairs Committee, met today with Brenda Sheridan, who is President-elect of the Virginia PTA as well as a member of the Loudoun County School Board. The meeting was kindly arranged by John Stevens, the former Chair of the Loudoun County School Board, who assisted local homeschoolers when they brought him their concerns about how the school division was handling transfer credits by former homeschoolers who wished to return to public high school.
We had a very cordial breakfast meeting, during which VaHomeschoolers conveyed our view that both organizations share the important goal of empowering Virginia’s parents to work towards the best possible education for their children, in whatever way is right for their families. We agreed that while there may be specific issues (such as homeschool sports access) where our organizations take different legislative positions, we hope to work together whenever possible to support excellent educational options in for Virginia’s families. VaHomeschoolers is grateful to Ms. Sheridan for meeting with us, and looks forward to continuing to build a positive professional relationship.
- Identify your Senator
- Reasons to support HB 947
- Full text of HB 947 (sports access)
- Full text of HB 1208
- Full text of SB 564
If you have any questions or concerns about this legislation, or any other legislative issue, please contact Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.