This past February 2021, we at FPM and CHEA hosted Capitol Day once again. In past years, our Capitol Day was comprised of private homeschoolers who went on tours of the Capitol building, received Capitol Office Visits training, and visited legislators’ offices. As with so many events in our lives, Capitol Day looked vastly different this year.
The goal of Capitol Day is to provide information about private home education to our California state legislators and their staff in a friendly, professional manner. This also allows legislators and their staff the opportunity to visit with actual homeschool families.
With the Capitol building in Sacramento being inaccessible to us, we were immediately faced with the question of how to facilitate this connection when we could not meet in person!
In order to accomplish our goals, FPM brainstormed with CHEA and came up with two separate, but linked, events-Virtual Capitol Day and Advocacy from Home.
Capitol Day serves several purposes:
- It informs any newly elected legislators and their staff, and reminds the veteran legislators, of the benefits of private homeschooling.
- It strengthens our working relationship with them on a professional level.
- It leaves them with a way to contact us if they ever have any questions about home education.
Before these events, packets that would traditionally be hand delivered to Capitol offices by private homeschoolers were mailed to both legislators’ Capitol and district offices. These Homeschool Information packets help explain private home education as well as provide research showing that privately home-educated children do very well compared with students from the public schools.
During Virtual Capitol Day, FPM’s Nathan Pierce encouraged our attendees to engage in homeschool advocacy. He trained them in practical advocacy through writing letters to their state legislators and about the importance their letters could have.
Weston Potter, a homeschool graduate, college graduate, and FPM employee specializing in legislation, gave a presentation about internships at legislators’ offices, sharing some of his personal experiences as an intern at the state capital.
Brian Ray, an international expert regarding homeschooling, shared about his research through the years and its importance in advocacy.
California Assemblyman James Gallagher, a homeschooling father of five, spoke about civil liberties. His inspiring talk outlined the importance of being vigilant and working to defend our rights.
The second part of the event, Advocacy from Home, then gave participants the opportunity to put what they had learned into practice! Participants wrote letters to their assigned senator and/or assembly member from the district in which they live, or from another district. We provided sample letters and encouraged them to craft their own letter, sharing some of their personal experiences in homeschooling with the legislator as well as their desire as a homeschooling family to keep private homeschooling free of additional regulation.
Many legislators believe that one letter represents the view of 100 others who did not take the time to express their position. Out of our 120 state legislators, these homeschool families were able to send letters advocating for private homeschooling to over half of them!
Participating in Advocacy from Home is vital! New legislators and their new aides may not yet be familiar with private home education. In fact, a significant number of the legislators and their aides have no idea how private homeschooling works, either legally or practically, or that there are homeschoolers in their districts. More than ever it is critical that we reach out and help our state legislators understand that homeschooling is already thriving in California, and that there is no need for further regulation.
Efforts are still underway to get a personal letter written to each member of the California Assembly and Senate. If you did not participate in our Virtual Capitol Day event, it’s not too late to be a part of Advocacy from home. You can be an advocate for private home education! Our website has great resources to walk you through the practical steps of writing to your assembly member or senator.
As we begin to look ahead to Capitol Day 2022, we hope that Coronavirus restrictions will be lifted and that we will be able to gather together in person!
If you are interested in joining our mission to write a letter to all of our state legislators, please let us know at www.fpmca.org/contactus and we will direct you to the resources you need to write an effective letter, or possibly even arrange a district office visit. Once coronavirus restrictions lift, you can even arrange a field trip to visit your legislators’ district offices with other private homeschoolers!
Capitol Day was not only essential to informing our representatives about private home education, but it was also a fun and educational experience. Our thanks go to CHEA, and to all who participated in Capitol Day 2021 and to each of you who support our work. God’s hand was on us at Capitol Day. We trust that He will continue to bless the work that you all do to protect private homeschooling freedoms as He multiplies the fruits of your labors both now and in the future. We are continually working hard to preserve our God-given freedoms in the California Legislature. You will not want to miss our next Capitol Day, which will take place early next year in 2022. We will announce the dates for Capitol Day 2022 as soon as they are available.