It’s time for a legislative update. As of Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 there are approximately 1278 pieces of legislation floating through the Missouri state capitol. Some are recycled from previous years and some are duplicates, but there are some very busy legislators with writers cramp in Jefferson City.
Let’s first address the most recent threat to homeschooling freedoms, SB 706.
Jane Cunningham’s office did respond to our requests for edits and your phone calls and emails regarding language in her Race To The Top bill, and how it may affect homeschooling freedom. While her office may not have been happy to have had to address questions, the process is set up to be transparent and accountable to the voters, and it appears that contact from concerned parents/voters/homeschoolers has been productive for homeschooling freedom.
A preliminary copy of a revised SB706 shows the offending language has been removed from the edited bill. It is not yet posted on the General Assembly website, so the threat isn’t completely eliminated until the revised bill is approved, but this is a step in the right direction. There are still many other problems with this bill, but none that affect homeschoolers at this time. This bill is one to keep an eye on and we will do so. Since transparency is and should be crucial in the legislative process, we hope Senator Cunningham’s office will make available, publicly, the bill before it makes its way through the approval process. It is imperative for the taxpayers to have a chance to examine this legislative work before it is approved by lawmakers.
SB460, introduced by, Senator, Robyn Wright-Jones is all about compulsory school age and this one moving, slowly, but moving. It has been referred to the Senate Education Committee after its second read. This one requires any child to attend kindergarten when they reach the age of five or earlier if their birthday falls early enough in the school year.
SB483, Senator, Scott Rupp’s bill for scholarships for academically advance public high school students has been approved out of committee and will move on to the senate for debate/approval.
SB527, Senator, Rob Schaaf’s, let’s “consider” homeschoolers for scholarships, bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.
HB1206, Rep. Jay Barnes, homeschooling sports participation bill has been referred to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.
Since my last posting, HSLDA has flagged a couple of bills.
HB1610, Rep Jamilah Nasheed has resurrected this bill from last year. In fact, this is the bill, in 2009, that raised compulsory school age for homeschoolers to 17, unless 16 or more high school credits were earned toward graduation. She is now trying to raise the age to 18. This does affect homeschoolers. This bill was introduced on February 1st and has been assigned to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.
SB643, Senator Keaveny’s, compulsory school age bill requires children to attend kindergarten at the age of 5 years old in St. Louis City and Kansas City schools. This bill does have language that excludes homeschool students.
Understand that this is a big year for education reform in Jefferson City. While most bills do not specifically address homeschooling, yet, the reform will have far reaching affects in the long term and all parents need to follow what legislators are doing in this regard. Most of the legislation models the Obama administration’s Race To The Top agenda and will ultimately result in loss of local and parental control of your child(ren)’s education.