Open Letter to Representative Bob Kulp — Wisconsin State Legislature
From: Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA)
Re: Homeschoolers’ Opposition to Legislation to Allow Homeschoolers to Participate in Public School Sports
Dear Representative Kulp:
I am writing to emphasize WPA’s position on homeschooling freedoms, and specifically on ways that these freedoms would be undermined by any legislation to allow homeschoolers to participate in public school sports. You appear to have a different understanding of homeschooling freedoms than the vast majority of Wisconsin homeschoolers do.
Several homeschoolers who are part of the Central Wisconsin Homeschoolers Facebook Group emailed WPA concerning your Facebook posts beginning on Tuesday, February 10, in which you identify yourself as a State Representative and ask how many of them would like to have their homeschooled high school age kids participate in public school sports. You misrepresented WPA’s position by stating “I understand their [WPA’s] hesitancy.” As I explained to you on February 9 in a phone conversation and an email, WPA has never been hesitant on this issue. We have strongly opposed such legislation since it was first introduced over 15 years ago. (See here and here ) You also made unsupportable claims about your power as an elected representative to control legislation and prevent increased regulation of homeschooling. You stated: “I will make certain that there is not ‘bill creep’ on this in a way that takes any freedoms from home schoolers.” No legislator has this power once a bill is introduced. (For example, see Assembly Rule 15 here.)
WPA’s positions include the following:
• Accepting tax dollars or other favors from the government consistently leads to increased government regulation.
• Homeschoolers have worked together through WPA for over 31 years to gain and maintain one of the best homeschooling laws in the country. We do not want to risk losing our freedoms by being required to take state-mandated tests, make our curriculums conform to public school common core standards, report to public school officials, have the DPI review and approve our homeschools, etc.
• The vast majority of homeschoolers are clear that they do not want to trade their homeschooling freedoms for the possibility of a very few homeschoolers participating in public school sports.
• The claim is misguided that increased state regulation of homeschoolers would apply only to those who participate in public school sports. Many examples show that regulations that initially applied to only a small subset of a larger group before long were applied to the whole group.
• WPA disagrees for two reasons with the claim that because state regulation of homeschooling has not increased in the states that allow homeschoolers to participate in public school sports, Wisconsin homeschoolers do not need to worry. First, states that allow homeschoolers to play public school sports already had in place greater state regulation of homeschooling than Wisconsin has, so there was no need to increase state regulation in those states. Second, the fact that regulation hasn’t been increased in the past doesn’t guarantee that it won’t be in the future. Since it is much easier to increase state regulation of homeschooling than to decrease it, if regulation were increased, it would no doubt be a burden to homeschoolers for a long time, possibly indefinitely.
• Neither legislators nor anyone else can guarantee that present or future legislation will not lead to increased state regulation of homeschooling. There are at least three reasons. First, once legislation is introduced, it is very difficult to control. Amendments can add to, delete from, or totally change a bill. Second, virtually all statutes have unintended consequences. Third, preventative legislation is not an option. Laws cannot state, “No legislation shall be passed that, on the basis of this statute, will increase state regulation of homeschooling.”
Your misunderstanding of WPA’s position on homeschooling freedoms is not surprising since you are a co-sponsor of AB 1. This bill reauthorizes and extends state regulation of students in private schools that accept government money, thereby allowing more state involvement in private schools than the vast majority of homeschoolers are willing to accept. By co-sponsoring AB 1, you are supporting both requiring these private school students to take tests that may be aligned with Common Core Standards, and requiring them to submit large amounts of personal data for the statewide public school student identification database.
Wisconsin homeschoolers do not have to take state tests and are not included in the database because we realize you can’t have homeschooling with minimal involvement by the state in your homeschool and at the same time ask for or receive so-called favors such as permission to participate in public school sports.