How Did HEF Begin?

Craig and Brenda Dickinson were among the pioneers in the home education movement. There were no laws in Florida legalizing home education when they began in 1981. Registering as a private school was the only legal option. However, some families who were registered with private schools were being charged with truancy and threatened with loss of custody.

In 1984, Craig began to draft legislation for the home education law and approached Rep. Daniel Webster (Orlando), who also wanted to home educate his children, to sponsor the bill. They worked in the face of opposition for the next eight months to educate and win support for this controversial issue. Despite overwhelming odds, the bill miraculously passed the Legislature in one session. Gov. Bob Graham’s staff placed the bill on a recommend veto list; however, Craig was able to address the concerns and the bill was signed

Craig worked diligently to fight attempts to add regulation to the law. In 1990, he defeated six proposals to change the requirements. However, hidden in a large bill, a measure passed designed to prevent child abusers from home educating. This law would have required every parent’s name to be cleared through HRS Child Abuse Registry before being "permitted" to home educate. Home education in Florida would have virtually ceased, but Craig intervened and worked with the Department of Education to develop an affidavit to allow home education to continue.

At this time, Craig was the voluntary advocate for home education. After the 1990 session, it became obvious a full-time advocate was necessary. Craig and Brenda invested time and money into touring the state to inform support groups of the need; after much work the Home Education Foundation was established.

In 1992, Craig was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma cancer and passed away in 1993.

With the loss of her husband and the challenge of raising and educating two children, Brenda considered dissolving HEF and the overwhelming responsibilities associated with advocating. However, she felt directed to continue the work and has been the full-time home education advocate since 1993.

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