Education is about choices.
And if you’re one of California’s almost 200,000 homeschoolers, or if you’re interested in becoming one, you already know that your toughest job isn’t necessarily choosing your curriculum…It’s in the Legislature.
You need to stay informed about laws that impact your ability to choose how your child is educated.
The State of California currently has several bills before the Legislature which are aimed at the growing homeschooling community. Though homeschooling is largely regulated by states, there are also a couple of bills at the federal level you should know about.
We know that you’ve got lessons to plan, projects to help with, and field trips to go on… you’re busy! So, to help keep you informed, we’ve researched the bills currently working their way through the Assembly and written you a handy summary complete with links to the actual bills so you can investigate on your own.
Purpose: Student Data Collection
This bill wants to use available data to “improve education and workforce opportunities for all students” by using data on test scores, type of education (special needs, advanced courses, etc.) to help develop better educational programs for California’s kids.
While the state already has access to a lot of this information, it’s not in a central database with your kid’s name on it. This bill would assign your student a unique number in a central database and track things like:
- academic performance
- attendance in special education or gifted programs
- whether your student gets a free or reduced lunch
- whether they graduated or dropped out
The bill also requires a review committee of “education stakeholders and experts” that will use the database to develop better educational programs.
The committee will have an expert on privacy issues, but there should be concern over whether or not the database can be kept private and safe. The bill notes that additional legislation is needed to address privacy concerns.
Important to know: The bill does currently state that “Home-based private schools shall not be required to collect or submit data for the database.” However, the bill doesn’t exempt private schools that aren’t home-based, which may leave some homeschoolers vulnerable.
Current Status: AMENDED IN SENATE MAY 23, 2019, active bill, pending referral.
Bill: AB 2756
Purpose: Mandatory Fire Inspection/Privacy concern
All schools, public and private, including homeschools, would be required to:
- submit to mandatory fire inspection.
- Private schools would have to include the nature of their school on their affidavit.
The intent of this bill is apparently to prevent child abuse (ex. the Turpin case in Perris, California) by requiring all homeschools to submit to an inspection by the Fire Marshal. In other words, requiring a mandated reporter to come into your homeschool.
Important to Know: In America, private homes cannot be investigated by the government without just cause.
Kids aren’t at a higher risk of abuse just because they’re homeschooled. This bill assumes otherwise.
Current Status: FAILED IN HEARING on 4/25/19
Bill: AB 2926
Purpose: Homeschool Regulation
AB 2926 would establish an advisory committee to make recommendations about imposing extra requirements on homeschools.
This bill will give the state the power to:
- regulate private homeschooling, possibly including home visits to observe instruction, as well as home inspection (at the place of instruction).
- impose health and safety inspections on private homeschools.
- attempt to mandate a specific curriculum, whether or not homeschool parents consider it appropriate.
- require privately homeschooling parents to be certified teachers.
Current Status: PULLED, BUT STILL ON THE WATCH LIST
Bill: SB 972
Purpose: Student Health/Suicide Prevention
All schools, public and private, would be required to add a suicide prevention hotline number on the back of their student IDs.
Current Status: Inactive bill, chaptered.
That was a lot, wasn’t it?
But we’re not done yet…
Pop quiz: What’s the percentage of California students that are enrolled in a charter school over a traditional school?
California leads the country with a whopping 11% of students enrolled in charter schools.
That percentage only seems to get larger every year…so it’s no surprise that this next set of bills, largely supported by the California Teachers’ Association, targets the ever-growing charter school community.
Bill: AB 1505
Purpose: Limiting the creation of new charter schools in individual school districts.
AB 1505 gives local school districts the sole authority in the approval of new charter schools.
- Traditional schools will be allowed to consider a negative financial outcome as a reason for the denial of a charter. Since state funding follows the student, any charter school that opens automatically negatively impacts the traditional school in that district.
- New charters would be denied the ability to appeal to the county and state Boards of Education if a denial is issued. Currently, the law does allow charters to appeal if a district won’t approve of them.
- Charter renewals would be changed to a period of 2 to 5 years; the current renewal period is 5 years.
Current Status: PASSED THE ASSEMBLY, GOING BEFORE THE SENATE
Bill: AB 1506
Purpose: Limits the number of charter schools allowed to operate, both at local and state levels.
AB 1506 would:
- cap the total number of charter schools in California at the number of charters operating as of January 1, 2020.
- new charters would only be allowed in a district if a currently-operating one closes.
- cap the maximum number of students allowed to attend a charter at no more than 10% of all students in the district.
This educational homeostasis is a very blatant attempt by the California Teachers’ Association to keep the charter school movement from growing any further.
Current Status: ACTIVE BILL, IN FLOOR PROCESS
Bill: AB 1507
Purpose: Charter schools must operate in the school district which approved them.
This bill is actually worth supporting.
AB 1507 gets rid of the loophole that some small school districts have used to create charter schools – and charge them for services – while those charters are actually operating outside that community.
In other words, you can’t create a charter in Anaheim and have it actually exist in Brea, and cause the Brea district to lose students…and funding.
This is important: the originating district loses absolutely nothing – in fact, they gain money – while impacting another district’s enrollment.
Since the charter is actually not in their community, there’s no incentive for them to make sure it’s operating in good faith and providing a top-notch education.
Current Status: Active Bill – In Committee Process
Purpose: State Education Voucher Program
HR610 establishes homeschoolers as eligible for federal grants.
Homeschooling kids could get financial aid? That’s good, right?
Not so fast.
This bill would likely mean that “homeschooling” must eventually be legally defined by the Federal Government.
This might not matter as much to a charter school, which is already a public school, but private homeschools will definitely be affected. The legal definition of “homeschooling” will most likely include requirements like:
- use of Common Core standards
- supervision by a state-credentialed teacher/parent must have teaching credentials
- faith-based curriculums may be restricted
- homeschool styles may be restricted
- homeschoolers required to be accountable to State and Federal governments
Current Status: INTRODUCED 2017-2018
Bill: SB 756
Purpose: No New Charters for Two Years
This bill caps off the anti-charter bills by putting a moratorium on the creation of any new charter schools in California for two years…unless the charter reforms in the previous bills are passed.
Current Status: INACTIVE
Purpose: Terminating the Department of Education
The shortest bill we reviewed, this one just calls for the termination of the Department of Education on December 31, 2018.
Current Status: INTRODUCED 2017
Hey, you made it to the end of the summary. Whew!
Hopefully, this post gave you an idea of what’s going on in California’s legislative arena this year.
It’s a lot to take in, and a lot to keep an eye on, but you already know about the connection between knowledge and power.
You know that hard work pays off. After all, you’re a homeschooler.