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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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Protecting Child Safety and Homeschool Freedom

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

On March 24, 2020, HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) Senior Counsel Darren Jones published the blog post Harvard Summit to Discuss Regulating Homeschooling. AFHE has received numerous questions from our members and the Arizona homeschool community about this summit to be hosted by Harvard University’s Child Advocacy Program, with concerns about the potential impact on homeschool freedom. On behalf of AFHE, I’d like to provide some background as well as action you can take.

Child safety is crucial

AFHE believes every child should be safe and free from abuse. Abuse of a child should always be reported. It’s the law. Under Arizona’s mandatory reporter law, all parents must report to law enforcement and state child safety officials if they have a reasonable belief that their child is being or has been abused. Additionally, all adults are mandatory reporters for children for whom they have temporary custody or care (e.g. teachers, physicians, Sunday school teachers, etc.).

Learn more about reporting child abuse in Arizona at dcs.az.gov.

Parental rights protect children

We believe parents have the right to be the primary decision-makers for their children. Therefore, we also believe parents have the right to make educational decisions for their children. Regrettably, abuse occurs within every education option. However, research shows homeschooling has the lowest rate of abuse among the various education options studied. Limiting or regulating homeschool freedom has not been shown to have any correlation to improved child safety.

Find research and more at homeschoolingbackgrounder.com

About the summit

AFHE has been aware of the summit at Harvard for several months. We have been in ongoing communication with state homeschool leaders from across the country as we seek ways to best protect homeschool freedoms here in Arizona.

The agenda for the summit is clear. The individuals hosting and speaking are already working aggressively across the nation to promote regulatory policy state by state. Many of these speakers are connected to an advocacy group with the express purpose of regulating homeschooling.

Truant families are not homeschool families

AFHE has been monitoring the actions of this group for quite a few years. Their tendency is to paint truancy abuse cases as a homeschool issue. In some cases, an abuse suspect may claim they homeschool in order to avoid added charges of truancy, but that doesn’t mean they were in fact homeschooling.  In Arizona, we have a legal process for a parent to homeschool their child. Only those who have filed an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool with their County School Superintendent’s office and who provide instruction to their children in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, math, science, and social studies are legally homeschooling. This separates homeschool families from families who have truant students.

Learn more about Arizona homeschool law at afhe.org/az-law

Three ways you can help protect homeschool freedom

1. PARTNER WITH AFHE

Our volunteer government affairs team is on-site at the Arizona State Capitol weekly during each legislative session. We attend stakeholder meetings and interact with legislators throughout the year.

AFHE members receive a legislative update every session and have the opportunity to affect important legislation through action alerts when necessary. Your membership and tax-deductible donations supports a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the Arizona homeschool community and preserving the freedom we currently enjoy.

Your support makes this important work possible!

JOIN OR RENEW – AFHE Membership 
afhe.org/membership

DONATE – Make a tax-deductible donation to AFHE
afhe.org/donate

2. VOTE IN NOVEMBER

Be sure to get out this November and vote for candidates who support parental rights and school choice. It’s not unusual for the academic world to entertain radical anti-family and anti-freedom notions. Electing committed men and women who respect the freedom of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children is crucial.

One helpful resource for researching candidates is the Voter Guide from Center for Arizona Policy, which will be published closer to the election.

3. PRAY

Pray for wisdom and discernment for all involved … for our elected officials, leaders, legislators, and for those who work to protect homeschool freedom.

“Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION REVIEW
Together, we can protect and preserve homeschool freedom in Arizona.

 

 

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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