Holding the Line: 2022 in Review
“And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”(Galatians 6:9)
Merry Christmas from Nathan and Betsy Pierce and the staff of Family Protection Ministries! As you gather with friends and family for the holidays, we hope that you have joyful times together, thanking God for the blessings He has given you. Here at FPM, we give thanks to God for your partnership in prayer, volunteer hours, and financial support. We were so encouraged by the turnout at Homeschool Freedom Day in February and everyone who got involved with this year’s legislative battles. This important work could not be done without your help!
As we look forward to the upcoming Christmas season, we cannot help but ponder the greatest gift ever—the Lord Jesus—given as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Our great God is our model for giving. As we strive to grow in our faith, seeking to model our heavenly Father, let us also strive to give as He did!
This past legislative season saw the California Legislature pushing bills increasingly hostile toward traditional family values and the Biblical truths on which our great nation was founded. The bedrock of Christian principle is being intentionally eroded before our very eyes. We must stay strong as government authorities press in, seeking to supplant parental authority with their own.
Despite this onslaught, God has miraculously preserved 100% of our private home education freedoms this legislative session! We are so grateful to God for His provision each moment.
A new, two-year legislative season began December 5th, ushering in a brand-new slate of legislation, though we anticipate seeing many of the same issues brought forward. This midterm election has replaced approximately 25% of California’s Legislature with brand new delegates. While there is a possibility of new allies, the wave of new legislators presents additional challenges. We will need to invest many hours researching new legislators and evaluating where they stand on parental rights and private home education. Additionally, as the number of homeschooled students has grown, so has the amount of media attention around it. We have faith that God knows what next year will bring; He has led us and blessed us with protection for many years, and we continue to follow His lead.
2022 Legislative Victories: 3 Major Bills We Successfully Amended
SB 70 would have required children to complete 1 year of kindergarten before entering 1st grade in a public school, and would have gone into effect with the 2024-25 school year.
Current Status: SB 70 passed both houses of the Legislature, but was vetoed by the Governor, citing budgetary concerns. In a release concerning the veto, Newsom stated “With our state facing lower-than-expected revenues over the first few months of this fiscal year, it is important to remain disciplined when it comes to spending, particularly spending that is ongoing. We must prioritize existing obligations and priorities, including education, healthcare, public safety, and safety-net programs.”
FPM’s Work: SB 70 is the latest in a long line of similar bills introduced over the past 40 years with the goal of lowering compulsory school age. Nathan spent many hours over the past 3 years working with the sponsor of SB 70 to exempt private homeschoolers from the bill. Ultimately, we were able to obtain an amendment exempting all private schools including homeschools from mandatory kindergarten. Kindergarten continues to be optional for private school students.
AB 452 would have created a notification system ensuring every parent, including private homeschoolers, were informed of laws regarding safe firearm storage. The plan was to create an extensive reporting program, requiring each family to answer directly to the Superintendent of Education for oversight. This bill would have changed private school law affecting homeschoolers and opened the door to a multitude of future new burdensome requirements on individual families.
Current Status: This bill was amended to our satisfaction and passed by both the California State Senate and Assembly and signed into law by the Governor.
FPM’s Work: We worked with the author’s office to determine the impact and threat level for homeschool families. We also worked with the author’s office to include an amendment protecting private and homeschools from this requirement. Ultimately, we were able to have all private schools exempted from the requirements of this bill, as well as removing the entire section requiring homeschool families to answer to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
AB 1737 aimed to create a series of new requirements for homeschool co-ops. It addressed abuse in summer camps and other children’s programs by creating new requirements for these “camps” concerning safety and reporting, requiring all adult volunteers and workers complete extensive child abuse reporter training at their own cost and create new applications and paperwork requirements for these programs. It also aimed to create a commission to determine further future regulations. We were concerned the bill would negatively impact or even shut down homeschool co-ops as many, if not all, could never meet the requirements.
Current Status: While the bill was scaled back extensively, it still ended up dying on the Senate floor without being passed.
FPM’s Work: We worked with the author’s office, determining the impact and threat level for homeschool families and refining the definition of “children’s camp” to help avoid erroneous reporting requirements that could have shut down many small groups and camps targeted by this legislation. Initially the author was uninterested in our requests for amendments. However, together with the California Library Association, we were able to get the bill amended to scale back its requirements.
The Battle Against SB 866
SB 866, introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), originally aimed to allow minors aged 12 and older to consent to vaccination without parental approval. This dangerous bill would have immediately forced children to make their own decisions about vaccines – in many cases under tremendous pressure from authority figures and without parental counsel. The child’s decision could be made without a parent’s knowledge or consent, leaving parents with no chance to present relevant information about their children’s health. After significant pushback from FPM and others, the bill was amended to allow children 15 and older to consent to vaccination, but the bill remained a dangerous threat to the family institution and parental rights.
FPM organized and notified people across the state, working with local and statewide groups to mobilize opposition campaigns against this bill. Letters were delivered to every legislator multiple times, with a range of arguments tailored to them individually. Nathan met with legislators, staff, lobbyists, and activists from other organizations working to cast doubt on the author’s narrative in an effort to defeat SB 866. Many legislators publicly questioned the author and his understanding of the bill’s attack on parental rights and authority over children.
One letter that Nathan wrote and delivered in a meeting was directly referenced by one high-ranking committee chairman to explain his opposition announcement. He pointed out that SB 866 could impact other parental rights (such as education decisions). It could easily be used to remove the right of parents to choose homeschooling if their children wished to try another education option. This influential legislator had a significant impact on the bill, giving other legislators motivation and political coverage to oppose the bill.
Concern that SB 866 attacked the family structure was at the forefront of its opposition. The incremental steps toward giving minors autonomy outside their parents’ protection were both an immediate and long-term threat. The bill eroded parental authority and responsibility over children’s health and gave the final choice to the child and state government.
After months of hearings and vigilance from FPM supporters, SB 866 died. It remained on the Assembly Floor without being passed to the Governor before the legislative deadline. In the end, it was publicly opposed by numerous Democrats in the Assembly, ensuring it would not pass its second house. This led the author to move his bill to the Inactive File without bringing it up for a vote.
The author was adamant that opposition to his bill was borne out of “extremist anti-vax sentiment.” He was roundly disavowed of this claim by members of his own party who pointed out the main concern was primarily over the erosion of parental authority and the overreach of government, not vaccinations.
Thank you to everyone who called their representatives, shared our emails and posts, and prayed for this victory. Your efforts made all the difference in preventing this dangerous bill from becoming law.
Homeschool Advocacy: 3 Simple Ways YOU Can Get Involved!
A significant number of legislators and their aides have no idea how private homeschooling works, either practically or legally, or that there are homeschoolers in their districts. We have developed a program called Advocacy from Home, where private homeschoolers are trained to advocate for our freedoms. This is done through homeschool families building a relationship with their state legislators and delivering Homeschool Information packets at their district offices. These visits go a long way toward helping legislators see homeschoolers are good, law-abiding citizens living and working in their districts. The 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 public schools.
So how can you get involved? It’s simple! Here are 3 ways you can make a positive impact on California legislators:
Call: Sign up for our Email Alerts and get notified when to call your state representatives!
Write: Compose a letter to your state legislators introducing yourself as a private homeschooler or about a specific bill.
Meet: Set up a short meeting, in-person or virtually, with your state representatives.
Our Important Financial Need
As seen from the sheer amount of legislation we sort through here at FPM, it’s vital we stand firm in our defense and do not allow any government overreach into private home education. We can only do this with your help. When it comes to defending private home education in California, Family Protection Ministries is the watchman at the gate, on the alert, watching for attacks that would seek to destroy parental rights and home education freedom. But every watchman needs supplies and outside support to have the strength to identify threats and act on them. Will you help us financially so we can continue investing in the current and future freedoms of our children and grandchildren?
FPM is 100% donor-funded. We are completely dependent on the Lord leading you to support this vital work. FPM is unique; there is no other ministry in California completely dedicated to monitoring and acting on legislation affecting parental rights and private home education. We so appreciate the faithful, regular support that some of you have continued to send despite the economic impact of inflation and the soaring costs of basic necessities. We are deeply grateful for you!
Truly bad ideas are coming out of California these days, and Governor Newsom is seeking to expand his influence across the nation. It is more critical than ever that organizations such as FPM are at the forefront, seeking to stem the tide of bad legislation. We must stand up for good ideas, based on traditional family values outlined in Scripture.
We can only go as far as you are able carry us! This past year, we lost several regular supporters and have not gained many new donors. With this drop in revenue and the ever-increasing cost of doing business, we have a pressing need now, especially for increased monthly donations and generous one-time gifts. Inflation affects non-profits, too! Our ability to function has been impacted by soaring costs. Though our budget has never been stretched tighter, the need to stand firm in the truth and shine the light of Christ into the cultural darkness has never been greater.
When we give, it is not only to the benefit of those we give to, but it benefits us as well. When we give sacrificially, we are stretching our faith and investing in God’s Kingdom. The apostle Paul wrote,
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”(Philippians 4:17)
When times are tight, it is tempting to scale back our giving. As followers of Christ, though, we can be generous, knowing that we are dear children of the greatest giver of all, whose birth we are celebrating this season. Jesus promised,
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”(Luke 6:48)
We realize many of you have been deeply affected by COVID-19-related issues and the runaway inflation currently plaguing our nation. We completely understand the financial hardships associated with this time; we are praying for all of you!
Family Protection Ministries is totally dependent upon God’s provision through individuals, families, and groups supportive of private home-education for our financial support. Your end-of-the-year giving has always been critical for sustaining this ministry. Would you partner with us so we can continue leading the fight for our God-given liberties in 2023?
We are praying that you may stand confident in the Lord’s faithfulness in the coming year. May you look forward with hope, knowing that our great God has every circumstance in His caring hand and that His plans will prevail.