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Election 2020

It’s election season. And, that means we are all bombarded with information. To be sure, there is much to decide–everything from candidates for public office (federal, state, local), to judges (in the three most populous counties the vote is whether judges should be retained in office), to ballot propositions (laws and ordinances proposed for direct adoption by the voters).  There’s a lot at stake. How do you plan to cast an informed vote?  One tool we recommend highly is www.azvoterguide.com. Our friends at Center for Arizona Policy have surveyed the candidates on a variety of important issues. You can review candidate responses–or, if they elected not to respond, you can view their public position. The website allows you to customize a voter guide for you, focusing on the local candidates and issues that appear on your ballot. The guide may not answer every question you have, but it is a very good starting point for your own research. Here are a couple of specific thoughts: Judges: One of the most asked questions is: “How do I find out information about the judges that appear on the ballot?” Judges play an important, and often controversial, role in public life–but they do so in a way that is fundamentally different from elected lawmakers. Unlike elected officials, judges are forbidden from taking public positions on issues that are likely to come before them as they decide cases. This is the reason why this week Judge Amy Coney Barrett–as every nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States before her–declined to answer questions about her specific position on issues, yet readily answered questions about her judicial philosophy. When you look at the responses from judges to the survey at azvoterguide.com, you will see that many judges did not respond. Other judges responded with a statement of their judicial philosophy.  There is also a system for rating the performance and competence of judges in Arizona called the Judicial Performance Review Commission, which relies on surveys from attorneys and litigants who have appeared before the judge being evaluated. Learning of a judge’s approach and temperament is challenging, even for attorneys, so every piece of information you can glean is valuable.  It’s not a perfect system. At the end of the day, there is no reason to cast an uninformed vote on judges. If you are unable to locate information that satisfies you that a judge should be retained in office you can simply not cast a vote for or against that judge. Ballot Propositions: This year there are two statewide ballot propositions on the ballot: Proposition 207 (legalizing recreational marijuana) and Proposition 208 (new taxes for increased public education spending). In the voter guide you will see that our friends at CAP are urging a “no” vote on both measures.  Our Take: No on 207: The AFHE Board has decided to also recommend a no vote on 207. This is the second time in four years that legalizing recreational marijuana has been on the ballot in Arizona. Arizona voters said no to legalization in 2018 (by contrast, medicinal use of marijuana was approved by the voters in 2010). Like it was in 2018, the effort to legalize recreational marijuana is overwhelmingly funded by marijuana dispensaries.  AFHE exists to support home education because children are important. They are so important that parents make tremendous sacrifices to give their child the best education at home they possibly can. Ultimately, we are not persuaded that legalizing recreational marijuana use in Arizona will help children in any way. And there are many ways that it could be harmful. Take these examples:
  • In the states that have legalized marijuana, use by people younger than 21 has risen dramatically.
  • The human brain is still developing until the early-to-middle twenties and marijuana use has been shown to stunt and impair that development.
  • Prop. 207 would decrease the penalties for underage use of recreational marijuana, sending the message that it is not a big deal and fueling a culture of underage use.
  • Prop. 207 places strict limits on law enforcement’s ability to stop impaired driving.
  • Many neighborhoods will have a surge in marijuana growing, because HOA’s will no longer be permitted to place restrictions on marijuana home growth.
  • In other states, recreational marijuana has adversely impacted the availability of marijuana for medical reasons such as chronic pain.
As a final matter, Prop. 207  will take away the ability of lawmakers to make changes to its provisions–even for emergent priorities like public safety, public health, or financial downturns. This problematic feature of our state Constitution that hamstrings the ability of our elected representatives to respond to our needs is known as “voter protection.” Voter protection is a good reason to be wary of any law proposed at the ballot.  For more information on what is at stake in the vote on Prop. 207 please visit www.no207az.com. However you come down on this issue, and on the other decisions on the ballot in 2020, we wish you the best as you exercise the wonderful privilege of voting, and demonstrate civic engagement and responsibility to the young learners in your home. Peter Gentala Board President
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54th Legislature Wraps Up

Sine Die

by Allison Gentala, AFHE Government Affairs

May 28, 2019

As the school year wraps up for many of us, so does the 1st regular session of the 54th Legislature at Arizona’s State Capitol. Much like school years, sessions are exciting and fun, but we’re always ready for a break at the end. This legislative session was largely uneventful for homeschool freedom—which is exactly the way we like it!

A bit of History: The session opened on January 14 and adjourned sine die at 12:58 am on May 28. This year’s legislative session was longer than average, but by no means the longest. In 2013, the 51st Legislature 1st Regular Session lasted 151 days as Governor Brewer pushed for Medicaid expansion. Previously, in 2009, the 49th Legislature 1st regular session ran 170 days due to budget disagreements. As if that wasn’t enough, summer of 2009 was full of special sessions where lawmakers were hard at work for an additional 71 days. But the record for the longest session was set back in 1988 by the 38th Legislature 2nd regular session, which ran 173 days, as the impeachment of Governor Evan Mecham was underway.  

AFHE’s Involvement

The 54th Legislature is closely divided. There are 31 Republicans and 29 Democrats in the House, 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the Senate. While AFHE is a non-profit and stays bipartisan, legislators do not. The close vote margin makes it difficult to both pass favorable legislation for homeschoolers and to oppose legislation that jeopardizes homeschool freedom. We are grateful there were no bills limiting or regulating homeschoolers this session and no special situations for homeschoolers requiring legislation to rectify or clarify.

AFHE’s legislative team spent the session watching bills, meeting new legislators, joining school choice coalition meetings, and getting homeschool information packets to all legislators. Additionally, throughout the session, our government affairs team responded to questions from lawmakers about how pending legislation might affect homeschooling.

In addition to legislative work, AFHE’s Government Affairs Team also works to build relationships with elected officials outside the Legislature. This year we have been gradually meeting with county school superintendents and mailed each one a homeschool information packet. It’s important to know that many bills pass or are killed by one or two votes. Although as a nonprofit organization which is bipartisan, AFHE does not support candidates. We do, however, support homeschool freedom and parental rights. If you want to be a part of protecting this freedom and rights, we encourage you to research the candidates and be certain to cast your vote every election cycle in accordance with your views in these areas.

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Together, we are making a difference to preserve homeschool freedom!

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Homeschool Graduation: Is a Finance Class Required?

by Allison Gentala, AFHE Board Member, Director of Government Affairs

Over the years, Arizona lawmakers have sought ways to ensure that high school graduates are well prepared to face the world that awaits them. In order to accomplish this, bills have been passed adding tests or classes to the graduation requirements of Arizona high school students.

In 2015, HB 2064 was passed requiring all public school students to pass a civics test in order to graduate from high school starting in 2017.

In 2019, SB 1184 is before the legislature and would add the requirement of a finance class to ensure that students know how to balance a checkbook, make a budget, and understand the consequences of debt.

While both of these new graduation requirements are wonderful for preparing students to launch well into adult life—and we would encourage you to equip your students with this knowledge—neither are required of homeschoolers.

Homeschooling is not regulated by the Board of Education

Privately funded education is not subject to oversight by the Board of Education. Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) §15-203, in listing the powers and duties of the Board of Education, says that “the state board of education shall exercise general supervision over and regulate the conduct of the public school system and adopt any rules and policies it deems necessary to accomplish this purpose.” No power is given to the Board of Education to supervise or regulate homeschool.

Homeschooling has its own legal definition found in ARS  §15-802, which states homeschool is “a nonpublic school conducted primarily by the parent, guardian, or other person who has custody of the child, or nonpublic instruction provided in the child’s home.”

Graduation requirements for homeschoolers

The parent sets the graduation requirements for their homeschooled student, creates the high school transcript, and issues the diploma. If a student is college bound, it is helpful to research college entrance requirements for a school your child is likely to attend and plan their high school courses accordingly.

The AFHE Legislative Team is actively watching legislation that may impact Arizona homeschool freedom. We hope updates like this are beneficial to our community.

Learn more about Arizona homeschool law

Do you have questions about homeschooling in Arizona and the law? Check out AFHE’s AZ Law page.

We invite you to send in your questions to homeschool@afhe.org and we may use some of them for future blog posts.

You can support the legislative work AFHE does on behalf of Arizona homeschoolers through a one-time or recurring tax-deductible donation. DONATE HERE

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2019 Legislative Session

Happy new year from AFHE’s Government and Legislative Affairs Team. It’s amazing that we are almost to February!

As most of us are back into our homeschool routines after the holidays, ninety Arizona legislators have convened at the State Capitol, some of them for their first session. The new legislative session began January 14, but most legislators began preparing weeks in advance.

This will be the first regular session of Arizona’s 54th Legislature. Arizona lawmakers will be working countless hours this session, hopefully to further establish Arizona as one of the best states in which to live, work, and raise a family.

As we head into this new session, we remember the legislators who have devoted years to preserving homeschool freedom in our state. A special thank you to President Steve Yarbrough, who recently retired from the legislature. He has served in key leadership roles in both House and Senate, including as President of the Senate. Senator Yarbrough is an incredibly effective advocate of school choice and a dear friend to the homeschool community.

We are proud of the two bills AFHE supported the last two sessions. In 2017, we successfully urged the adoption of HB 2389, which requires government entities in the state of Arizona to recognize a homeschool diploma and transcript in the same manner as a public school diploma for employment. And, in 2018, we supported HB 2536, which extends the same college credits to homeschool students that public school students receive at our JTEDs (Joint Technical Education Districts such as West-MEC and EVIT). Both bills were sponsored by Representative Rusty Bowers, who was selected in November by the Members of the House of Representatives to lead their chamber as the Speaker. Speaker Bowers was the recipient of AFHE’s Friend of Homeschool Freedom Award in 2017, and we are glad to see him continue to lead with a commitment to excellence.

Arizona lawmakers have filed hundreds of proposed bills for the new session. The AFHE Legislative Team is already searching and reading through these bills to ensure the protection of your homeschool freedoms as well as those of the next generation.

We look forward to a wonderful session and want to invite you all to join us in prayer for continued success in our mission to preserve the freedom to homeschool in Arizona.

Allison Gentala
AFHE Board Member
Director of Government Affairs