Roy and Nathan Fought the Good Fight. Now They Need Your Support. A Message from Mike Smith

Please read the message below from HSLDA.


Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

As I’m sure you know, we just went through the greatest threat to homeschool freedoms in the California Legislature since the founding of HSLDA, and our co-laborers in Sacramento—Family Protection Ministries—were there, leading the way.

It all began January 14 when homeschooling parents in Perris, Riverside County, were accused of abuse and neglect related to their 13 children.  They had filed a private school affidavit.  On January 19, FPM informed the homeschooling community of the threat to our freedom that lay ahead.

Immediately, the media began blaming homeschooling for these allegations.  The national media, including NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and Fox News, picked up the story with a common theme: homeschooling was responsible for the alleged abuse of the children.

Statewide Leadership

Roy Hanson, FPM’s executive director, and Nathan Pierce, FPM’s legislative liaison, immediately recognized that this story could lead to legislation being filed to regulate homeschool freedom.  They addressed this issue with their statewide leadership coalition, which is composed of FPM, HSLDA, Christian Home Educators Association, the California Homeschool Network, and the HomeSchool Association of California.

Roy formed this coalition in the late 1980s. One of the most crucial situations the coalition addressed occurred in 2008 when a case came down that declared homeschooling illegal in California.  That decision was ultimately reversed, and homeschooling was declared legal via the private school exemption based on an amendment that FPM had secured in the Montoya Act in 1998.

As soon as FPM became aware of the case in Perris, California, they began planning for the possibility of adverse legislation and how to defeat it. They met with key legislators and leaders within the homeschooling community.  Then, what FPM anticipated happened.  On February 16, two bills were introduced in the Assembly—AB 2756 and AB 2926—that sought to considerably reduce homeschool freedom in California.

The bills would have:
  • Required local fire marshals to inspect annually the homes of families that had filed a private school affidavit;
  • Required the collection of data from the affidavit to identify who was homeschooling and provide this information to the public;
  •  Required the local superintendent of public instruction to form a commission to study homeschooling in California and around the country for the purpose of recommending to the legislature how to further regulate homeschooling.

Effective Response

FPM responded on February 20 with their first of five critical and timely alerts. These messages mobilized the homeschooling community with a clear explanation of the threat and decisive action to be taken.  Then Nathan began to personally contact members of the Assembly, pointing out the fallacy behind this attempt to further regulate homeschooling.

All the while, he worked with the leadership coalition to move forward with the same strategy and goals.  This may have been the most important thing they did, and it was all behind the scenes.  It was critical that the statewide organizations spoke with a united voice against this legislation.  Much thanks goes out to the statewide groups and individuals for their outstanding efforts to defeat these bills.

Roy and Nathan worked long hours collecting, researching, writing, and organizing points that we could all use to oppose these bills.  Nathan did constant research to keep us informed of the twists and turns that the bills took on the way to a vote on April 25th, with continuing alerts which mobilized the homeschool community to action with letters, emails, personal visits, and phone calls to key legislators.

Groundswell of Support

They coordinated the key witnesses and planned talking points that could be made in the short amount of time we had for presentations at the hearing. In response to FPM’s encouragement, upwards of 3,000 of you showed up and an estimated 1,300 testified before the Education Committee, voicing your opposition to AB 2756. And, their efforts were critical in getting the more dangerous of the two bills, AB 2926, pulled from a vote.

Nathan represented all of us with his testimony against the bill, and three hours later, the final homeschooler had said; “Please vote no on AB 2756.”  When the chair asked for a motion to approve the bill, there was a deafening silence.  No member of the committee would make the motion; so, the chair declared AB 2756 dead by failure of a motion.  Because of the three-hour delay in calling for a motion, Nathan was the only person on our side left in the room at the time.  He quickly communicated the good news and the celebration began!

For three straight months, Nathan and Roy devoted extremely long and strenuous hours (above and beyond their normal demanding full-time workload) in the effort to defeat these bills.  It consumed their energies, at times resulting in fatigue and even sickness, that made it difficult to go on, but they persevered.

Here’s My Appeal

We, the homeschooling community, need to take a huge special offering to cover the added expenses resulting from this all-out effort to defeat these bills. Due to the efforts they expended in defeating this legislation, their resources have been depleted and are not sufficient to sustain the organization’s current operations.   And, going forward, they must add to their staff as the workload is too much for Roy and Nathan alone.

You might be saying, “but the battle is over, they can relax.”  Not so fast. They must continue to monitor all legislation that directly and indirectly impacts home and family freedoms, which is a monumental task.  More bills are introduced in the California Legislature than in the U.S. Congress, and they must review them all in detail to make sure intended and unintended consequences don’t negatively impact homeschooling and parental rights.  They must continue to visit legislators to maintain the relationships that made it possible to stop these two bills. Why?  Because the opposition is not going to go away.  Further efforts will be made in the legislature to tighten up on homeschoolers in California.

It is imperative that we all give generously to FPM.  This full-time ministry is solely supported by your donations—the homeschooling community.  They deserve our support.  They have led the way in defeating the greatest legislative threat to homeschooling freedom in California since I became involved in defending families in 1981.

Please make checks payable to FPM, addressed to:  FPM, P.O. Box 730, Lincoln, CA. 95648, or donate by credit card at http://www.fpmca.org/give.  Your gifts are tax deductible.

Thank you in anticipation of your support for YOUR legislative representatives in Sacramento.

Sincerely,

Mike Smith is president of HSLDA.