For the second time in just a few weeks, the rights of Tennessee's home school community (past, present and future) are at risk of being chopped into tiny bits by our very own legislature. (The first time can be read about here.)
This time it's the Department of Education taking aim at all those who have received a high school diploma under the Category 4 - the Church-related School provision of our state law. This provision allows for the utilization of Church-related Umbrella Programs, as home school governing bodies.
According to a recent ruling by the DoE, suddenly all Cetegory 4 diplomas - which have been being issued since - are now WORTHLESS.
Home School Legal Defense hasn't gotten it up on their site yet, but here is the memorandum received this morning.
From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
May 5, 2008
Tennessee: Calls Needed on Diploma Bill
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
We need your help now!
Tennessee homeschoolers are facing both a tremendous opportunity and a potentially devastating threat by legislation being considered this afternoon by the House Education Committee in Nashville.
Our friend, Representative Mike Bell, has proposed an amendment to House Bill 1652 which would require the state to recognize high school diplomas issued by homeschools and church-related schools. This amendment was necessitated by the current policy of the Tennessee Department of Education that diplomas from church-related schools are worthless and are insufficient for employment and admission to schools beyond high school. This is an opportunity to remedy an injustice and discrimination against the thousands of students being taught by their parents through church-related schools.
In reaction to Representative Bell's amendment, the Department of Education has proposed its own amendment which would prevent the vast majority of parents from even teaching their high school level children. This amendment would require that all parents conducting a homeschool and all teachers in church-related schools (Category IV Schools) have a bachelor's degree in order to teach students in grades 9-12.
This is a threat to your basic freedoms which must be stopped today!Today at 3:00 p.m., the House Education Committee will hear House Bill 1652 and consider these amendments. Please take time right now to contact members of the Committee and express your support for Representative Bell's amendment and your opposition to the Department of Education's amendment.
ACTION REQUESTED:(1) Please call or email (both would be better) at least one member of the House Education Committee with this message:
"Please support Representative Mike Bell's amendment to House Bill 1652 which would eliminate discrimination against graduates of church-related schools in Tennessee. Please oppose the amendment offered by the Department of Education which would require all homeschooling parents and teachers in church-related schools to have a baccalaureate degree in order to teach grades 9-12."
The contact information for members of the House Education Committee is set forth below.
If your last name begins with A-I, please call the following members:
Chair Les Winningham (615) 741-6852 email@example.com
Vice-Chair Tommie Brown(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary Joe Towns, Jr.(615) email@example.com
Harry Brooks(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Coley(615) email@example.com
Barbara Cooper(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
If your last name begins with letters J-R, please call these members:
Dolores Gresham(615) email@example.com
Beth Harwell(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
John Hood(615) email@example.com
Phillip Johnson(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
Ulysses Jones, Jr.(615) email@example.com
Ron Lollar(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
If your last name begins with letters S-Z, please call these members:
Mark Maddox(615) email@example.com
Michael McDonald(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerald McCormick(615) email@example.com
Richard Montgomery(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Turner (615) email@example.com
John Mark Windle(615) firstname.lastname@example.org
To find the name and contact information for your state representative, use HSLDA's Legislative Toolbox at http://capwiz.com/hslda/dbq/officials .
(2) Please forward this email to other homeschooling families who are not members of HSLDA and ask them to contact a member of the House Education Committee as well. If you have any questions or concerns about that this bill would do, please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information.
Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel
There's a meeting at the legislature today to consider a bill that will right this wrong step.
Here's a summary page of the laws of homeschooling in Tennessee.