Updated: Jun 7
When it comes to homeschool legislation in Florida, HEF works diligently to protect our long standing, strong home school law. This has always been our number ONE priority. Additionally we have added numerous opportunities for home schoolers through the years including extra curricular activities, FLVS participation, free dual enrollment and more. A full time lobbyist in Tallahassee is vital for all of our protection.
This was never more apparent than in the last few weeks. HB 1 was introduced and could have completely changed home education law as we know it. HEF has worked with both the House and Senate over the past month offering proposed language and different perspectives. We are happy to report that “God has made a way when there seemed to be no way.” The House has rewritten HB 1 separating the two groups of parents teaching their children at home while offering a new opportunity to parents. The Propose Committee Bill (See the Bill Here) keeps all of our current homeschool laws separate and secure, but also opens the door for parents to chose access to a universal education savings account (ESAs ).
Taking government funds, sooner or later, will bring more oversight and loss of personal freedoms. Our compromise gives parents a choice to continue home schooling as usual or take funding and be limited in the methods of evaluation. It may seem like a slight difference, however, looking ahead it is a major victory not to give up or compromise any of our current homeschool laws. The Personalized Education Program is the new option for parents who want to teach or direct their child’s education at home. The new option for parents who choose government funds will be available to 20,000 families the first year and increase annually. It will provide about $8,000 per student in funds to be used for educational purposes. Initially the scholarships will go to the lowest income families, which means anyone who applies will have to submit their most recent income tax forms to the SFO of their choice. The parent will be required to use a nationally norm-referenced test for the annual evaluation and submit it to the SFO which in turn will submit the scores to a state university for compiling the scores and reporting on the progress of the students in the program.
SB202 will be heard in committee on Tuesday, February 21, and the House bill PCB on Thursday, February 23.
There are a couple of things we hope to get into the final language, but we are very pleased that almost all of our suggestions have been taken.
Thank you for the prayers; keep them up. We do not need any further action or calls at this time.
Brenda Dickinson and HEF