This year, Family Protection Ministries (FPM) and Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) sponsored the biggest Capitol Day event ever! On January 18th, nearly two hundred people gathered in Sacramento to kick off Capitol Day with an informative and inspiring day of training.
An impressive slate of speakers entertained, motivated, and provided valuable information about the inner workings of California government, advocacy, and Biblical principles. Speakers included California Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones, Jeremiah Lorrig of HSLDA’s Generation Joshua, Brian Eschen from
Institute for Principle Studies, missionary and pastor to the Capitol Frank Erb, and John McGowan from CHEA. Nathan Pierce and Drew Olender of FPM were also featured.
Each session throughout the day provided valuable information about private home education and the importance of advocacy. Attendees were engaged and challenged with the information they received. It was wonderful to see families attend together—grandparents, parents, teens, and young children—all learning about the necessity and the means to advocate for private home education.
Things looked a little different for day two. The main Capitol building is currently under renovation, so attendees gathered in the Capitol Swing Space where legislators currently have offices. Everyone was eager to do their part in delivering important information about private home education to each legislator’s office. We at FPM really appreciated the patience of the participants as we worked through the growing pains of having more than twice the usual number of attendees!
In the end, all 120 offices received a packet containing information about how private home education legally works in California and documenting its excellent results. Many groups were able to get walk-in visits with a legislator or staff member, providing those offices with an in-person connection with an actual homeschool family. Some families were even able to personally meet with their own representative!
FPM staff took feedback from participants as they completed their office visits. It was wonderful to hear about how the visits went, and how many young people were given the opportunity to speak up and advocate for their own education! The information gathered during this debriefing time will help build a valuable database of information about which legislative offices have staff that are friendly to private home education.
A huge thank you to CHEA for their dedicated partnership with us. They have partnered with us for many years and we appreciate everything they do to get this event up and running.
Thank you to all the families who sacrificed their time to come for training and to do the invaluable work of delivering packets to every legislator’s office. Making and building those connections is vital to defending our homeschool freedoms. We also want to thank all our volunteers who pitched in and made the training day run so smoothly. Most of all, we want to give glory to God, our Creator and King. We always want our Lord Jesus to be honored in what we do.
Next year, we hope to secure a larger facility that can accommodate more attendees without having to put anyone on a wait list.
We already have the dates for next year’s Capitol Day. Save the date for January 17-19th, 2024 for training and Capitol visits! Applications for Capitol Day 2024 are currently being accepted and several families have already applied. Sign up soon to join them for this one-of-a-kind advocacy event!
Capitol Day: Keynote Speakers
Senator Brian Jones shared his experiences as a pastor and his fight for freedom in different areas of life both privately and publicly. He challenged people not to leave the state, but to stay and engage in California culture and actively work to make a difference. He spoke of his faith and the importance of speaking the Gospel in a bold way.
Jeremiah Lorrig of HSLDA’s Generation Joshua emphasized that speaking, interacting, and building relationships with legislators does have an immense impact through stories of past freedom advocates. What he shared was truly inspiring and especially highlighted the need to protect and fight for freedom.
Brian Eschen of Institute for Principle Studies (IPS) pointed attendees towards Scripture as a basis for understanding a Christian’s role in government. He emphasized the need to return to Scripture for guiding principles. He outlined the need to understand our role as citizens, and the role of government, through a Biblical lens.
Frank Erb, pastor and missionary to the Capitol, reminded us that our state legislators are people just like us! He emphasized showing them compassion and respect; the stressful environment of the Capitol is difficult for them. They need prayer. We should think of them as we do any other person who needs the love of Christ—rather than judging them as just some opposing politician.
Advocate of The Year!
FPM’s Advocate of the Year Award recipient is Jennifer Avila! Her hard work in homeschool advocacy over the last few years has been exemplary. Not only has she attended Capitol Day multiple times, she has regularly visited her legislators at their district offices.
Jennifer became involved in homeschool advocacy when the Turpin case cast homeschooling in a negative light in the national media. Her first involvement in advocacy was in 2018 with the hearings for AB 2756. She was near the front of the line when thousands of people came to speak against that bill. As regular supporters of FPM know, that bill was defeated in large part due to efforts from homeschoolers like Jennifer who showed up that day.
Since that memorable occasion, Jennifer hasn’t slowed down. Over the last few years, she has visited her representatives’ district offices numerous times, working hard to build relationships with both the legislative staff and the legislators themselves. Along with those local visits, Jennifer has attended two of FPM’s Capitol Day events and visited capitol offices. She encourages people to do district visits, saying they are far easier than the capitol office visits. Jennifer believes that participating in advocacy is a civic duty and she knows FPM can’t do it alone.
District Office Visits: The Next Step
Capitol Day was a huge success, but it’s only the beginning of homeschool advocacy. One of the most important ways we can continue advocating for private home education is by building relationships with legislators at the district level. This means having families reach out to their representatives at their local district office and share homeschool successes.
Maintaining relationships with our representatives is key. When they have a positive personal relationship with homeschoolers, they tend to be more open to helping us oppose bad bills when they surface. District visits are a more laid back version of our Capitol Day visits; legislators aren’t running from one hearing to another and tend to be more open to a meeting with constituents. Think of it as a field trip opportunity for your kids or homeschool group!
Legislators have a completely separate staff in their district offices than in their capitol offices, which is why it is important to visit both. If you are interested in visiting your representative, we would love to guide you! Please visit our website and we’ll get you started prepping for a district visit:
FPM’s new podcast!
Did you know that FPM has an official podcast? Each week, join Nathan for legislative updates, homeschooling stories, and other exciting topics. Head on over to your favorite podcast site and give it a listen!
You can listen to all episodes of The Frontline podcast our website at fpmca.org/podcast, or listen on the go with Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or Audible. You can also watch the video version of our podcast on our YouTube channel.