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
DONATE – Make a tax-deductible donation to AFHE
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.
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.