My family attended also -- husband, myself and our two teenage children. I took extensive notes, but will try not to bore everyone with too much information....
Attendance--I thought it was over 1,000 people, one of the legislators mentioned 1,200 towards the end of the meeting.
Red definitely outnumbered blue, red was a great choice, bright colors really grab the eye, while the "blues" blended in, esp. since the seating was blue.
- Jess Stairs (Education Committee Chairman)-- general welcome, intro of committee/panel members
- Rep. Sam Rohrer (Sponsor of the Bill and homeschooling father) -- gave a little info. about the 1988 H.E. Bill and the new Proposal
- Carol Saylor (Manheim Central SD Superintendent) -- supports and recognizes high achievement of home education/homeschoolers but wants to keep the current standards and requirements, wants to have accountability, due to "concerns" about lack of protection for children (mentioned immunizations, no testing or review under proposal, no knowledge of "felony" charges for home educating parents, etc.)
- Idetta Groff (School Board Member/Lancaster Area) -- mentioned the high homeschool numbers in her area (Amish/Mennonite population) and the fact that the children seem to do well, but also wants to keep the accountability because it is the State's responsibility to provide for an educated citizenry
- Chris Glicka (Home School Legal Defense Association)-- Freedom !! eliminate burdensome laws, he listed the unfair & arbitrary requirements by many school districts that are outside and above the law. Also said that HSLDA deals with many more cases of District problems and abuses in PA than in other states. Regulations do not make better students, parents have a fundamental (Supreme Court upheld) right (14th Amendment) to educate (or direct the education of) their children as they see fit
- Brian Ray (NHERI-research & stats, was also a public/private teacher) -- homeschoolers proven to have high academic and social achievement, this success is NOT tied to the amount of state regualtion. No cause and effect can be proven between high regulation and high achievement of HS'ers, however the less regulation an district has over the HS'ers in their district, the BETTER their own PS students perform
There were then some questions by the committee members -(I have notes on these if anyone has specific concerns I can let you know if they were addressed)
- Maryalice Newborn (PHEN) -- PHEN is the oldest support group in PA. They feel the proposed Bill upholds court findings regarding parental rights (and that they supersede governmental/state concerns).Took a survey and of reported Districts (~20% of total SD's), 92% exceed the law in requirements for HS'ing families. Only .09% of HS'ing families are found to have given/be giving an improper or inadequate education, at a great cost to districts. HB2560 will save state education money. People are moving from or refusing to move to PA because of the rigid HE law (she had 60+ confirming letters attached)
- Ellen Kramer (Catholic Homeschoolers of PA)-- present law is ambiguous and burdensome, and leads to abuse/ignorance by districts. ALL diplomas should be equally recognized (including parent-issued), Some kids are denied State Grant money for college, they cannot get the SD to sign a certificate EVEN thought they have fully complied with the law and their HE program has been approved after each year in high school
- Carol Lugg (North Central PA HS'ers)-- felt the law was fine, did not mind having to comply with the regulations (alltho' she did admit she would not mind if a few "hoops" were removed). Said she spent less than $400 a year per child (*note* this is a LOT of money to a low-income family, esp. if they have a large family--the woman next to me had SEVEN children, all close in age...that adds up to quite a bundle of cash, eh??). Carol uses a diploma program (I believe it is Richman's) and felt these programs offered accountability and maintained high standards, resulting in the high regard towards PA HS'ers.
- Howard Richman (PA Homeschoolers, PHAA)-- runs a family business that "helps" homeschooling families. Offers (for "moderate" fees) "recognized" (NOT accredited) diplomas, evaluations, testing, sells booklets/materials to families on how to comply with the PA law (booklets that recommend overcompliance). Howard is a former educator and part of the original committee that came up with the current PA Home Ed. law (which he "surprise !" just happens to make a living from). I was a bit "irritated" by his satements which came across as a complete lack of trust in the ability and integrity of home educating parents and implicated that the only reason HS'ers in PA do so well is because they are held accountable and FORCED to, otherwise we'd all be too "busy". Howard seemed terrified (and a bit angry) that the proposed law would eliminate diploma programs and would lead to a downfall in standards of HS'ed students in PA. He recounted a meeting in which he was told that his diplomas would be protected/included in the new law, and was upset when this offer was removed (I was later told, by more than one person who were in attendance at the above mentioned meeting, that this was not true, Mr. Richman has refused from the get-go to agree to any Bill that did not conform to his strict desires and has refused any offer of compromise-- he will not acknowledge the worth of a parent-issued diploma). Mr. Richman proposed keeping the current Bill as is, but allowing a new "alternative" law for others who do not use a diploma program (implication is that this second choice would be "substandard" to his diploma program).
- Bruce Eagleson (CHAP) -- the present law is complex and difficult to interpret, Districts enforce the law in an uneven, and often, unfair manner. HS'ers are known to be successful, devoted and diligent, but waste money and time in order to comply with a law that is not proven to raise performance, this $ and time is better spent on the HS'ed children within the families.
- Edi Thomas (Erie Co. Homeschoolers) -- also runs a diploma program but supports the new Bill. Feels many parents would still choose to use a diploma program and yearly evaluators, and this would be allowed and recognized under the proposal. She was not threatened by the new Bill and welcomed the freedom.
A few personal notes...meeting was informative & did not drag (too much). The kids in attendance were absolutely wonderful -- the 10 or 12 little ones near me were well-behaved and very quiet. The HSLDA guy was a bit long-winded but I could tell he was trying to get alot of information out in such a short time. The committee members asked some interesting questions, alltho' the guy asking about "religiously backed racism" made no sense. There was one woman legislator who had socialist leanings, she was very concerned about "state responsibility" in education. You could feel a bit of tension in the later session, esp. during Mr. Richman's statement, and at the end when he was visibly angry at a comment made by Maryalice Newborn (regarding "purchased" diplomas). Great comments by Rep. Bob Bastian, who has HS'ed grandkids) and by Rep. Paul Clymer (HS'ed teens rarely have drug/alcohol problems, are registering to vote & involved in gov't/society, and have a moral upbringing to care for others, along with strong family units/involved parents). On that note... Almost everyone had to admit that involved parents make for better students and one-on-one learning was the best, esp. for special needs children. Parental education level mattered very little in HS'ed children's achievement. I think the legislators were very favorably impressed by the large turnout and by the enthusiasm and passion that was evident in the audience. Special Needs was brought up a few times...there is an amendment to the Bill already in the works concerning these children.
For those who have cable and PCN...the meeting will be broadcast later tonight and I think tomorrow also---their website is PCN
posted on 06/13/2002 3:51:31 PM PDT
To: twyn1; ArGee
This is a great report. Thank you for posting and going to the meeting!
Thanks, twyn1. I wish I had heard the last presentations.
The issue really is freedom vs control. I have little to no sympathy for someone who wants to earn a living helping the state control people.
Freepers in PA, start letting your reps know you support HB 2560.
posted on 06/13/2002 5:59:25 PM PDT
He recounted a meeting
It's when he started that review that I really decided I had to get back to work. We were supposed to be talking about a bill, not about whether he had been treated with the respect he felt he was due. If that was all the more adult he could be then I was sorry for him - and embarassed for the "fellow" homeschoolers there.
Anyone need some whine?
BTW: I may not have mentioned that I moved to PA from Texas just about a year ago. None of the concerns voiced at our meeting are problems in Texas, which has a very freedom-oriented law. If the cowboys can handle it, certainly the farmers of PA can.
posted on 06/13/2002 6:04:31 PM PDT
That was Mary Hudzinski and not Edi Thomas. I heard the testimonies from Mary Hudzinzki, Mary Alice Newborne and Ellen Kramer will be on the web shortly if they aren't already. I just got in the door so I haven't checked it out yet. I was shocked at Howard Richman insulting Rep. Rorher and Dr. Eagleson. Carol Lugg is a Richman follower. I spoke with a corordinator from the Fisher campaign and he is very much supportive of homeschooling (and freedom too, of course.)
HB2560 Lobby site
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