The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers) opposes HJ 92.
Text summary of HJ 92 (Rust) as introduced:
Study; religious exemption to compulsory school attendance; report. Requests the Department of Education to (i) survey each local school board to determine (a) how the school board makes the determination that a student is eligible to be excused from attending school by reason of bona fide religious training or belief pursuant to subdivision B 1 of § 22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia, (b) whether the initial determination pursuant to clause (a) is reviewed, (c) whether the school board requires the initial grant to be renewed and, if so, how often, and (d) whether the school board monitors the educational progress of students who have been excused from attending school by reason of bona fide religious training or belief or requires the student’s parents to report on the student’s educational progress, or both, and (ii) make a recommendation to the General Assembly on how, if at all, § 22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia could be amended to better carry out the requirements of Article VIII, Sections 1 and 3 of the Constitution of Virginia.
Reasons for Opposition:
- HJ 92 is a waste of taxpayer’s dollars and resources as a study is unnecessary. The answers to the questions posed are already known.
- There is no statistical evidence to support changing or revising the Religious Exemption code which has been in existence since 1976.
- HJ 92 will ultimately deny religious freedom to Virginia families. HJ 92 is written to justify the dissolution of the Religious Exemption (RE). It suggests the application of educational monitoring, by the local school board, of students educated under the RE, despite the fact that such monitoring is not permitted by or performed under current code. To add such regulation or oversight would effectively end the RE, making it no different from the home instruction statute (§ 22.1-254.1). The home instruction statute is incompatible with the religious beliefs and practices of some religious groups in Virginia, and does not allow them to educate as their faith dictates. For example, Amish communities practice formal education through 8th grade (focusing thereafter on work skills), but would be required under the home instruction statute of the compulsory attendance code to educate through 12th grade.
- The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in its ruling in Wisconsin v Yoder that the benefits of universal education do not justify a violation of the First Amendment.
- HJ 92 is founded in a false premise. Article VIII, sections 1 and 3 of the state constitution, which are referenced, require the state to provide a free, accessible and high quality education but do NOT mandate that it be accessed by all families.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers opposes HJ 92.