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This page contains all the posts in the Issues and Legislation section listed by date posted or revised. To find posts on a specific topic, click on the categories to your right.

02/12/2015

Open Letter to Representative Bob Kulp — Wisconsin State Legislature

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.

Sincerely,

Larry Kaseman

Executive Director
Wisconsin Parents Association
Post Office Box 2502
Madison WI 53701-2502
wpa@homeschooling-wpa.org
Voice Mail 608.283.3131
 

01/14/2015

Contact Your Wisconsin State Legislators in January

Summary: We need to explain to Wisconsin legislators that Wisconsin’s homeschooling law is working well and should not be changed and that homeschoolers do NOT want favors from the government. In mid-January, WPA sent to all Wisconsin State Legislators a printed copy of the Open Letter. But it will be much more effective for Legislators to hear from their constituents and that means YOU. The more people who contact their legislators, the more secure our freedoms will be. YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

Why Contact Legislators in January?

• A new legislative session is beginning in early January. It’s a time when lots of new legislation will be introduced and legislators are asked to support various bills by cosponsoring them.

Any homeschooling legislation has the risk of being amended to increase state regulation of homeschooling. Our goal is to prevent homeschooling legislation from being introduced, period. This is much easier and safer than fighting a bill once it has been introduced.

• Many new legislators don’t know much about Wisconsin’s homeschooling law, and experienced legislators benefit from being reminded.

 

How Do I Contact My Legislators?

Get their contact information by going to http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/ and enter your land address in the box.

Meet in person with your Wisconsin State Senator and Assembly Representative. This is the most effective approach. Go to their district offices near your home or take a field trip to the capitol in Madison and tour the building while you’re there.

Call your state legislators’ offices. This is next most effective. If you’re reluctant to talk to a legislator or their aide, call outside of office hours and leave a message.

Send a personal letter by postal mail. Write your own, possibly including points from the open letter on the next page.

Send a copy of the open letter by postal mail. You can download and print it from the WPA website. At the top of the home page, click on "Issue & Legislation," then click on "Preventing Legislation" on the right side. Include a note saying something like “I am a constituent and a homeschooler. I’m sending this to tell you we don’t want ‘favors’ or any other homeschool-related legislation.” This is less effective than writing your own letter, but it’s still helpful.

Email your legislators. Because legislators get so many emails, this is the least effective approach but it is better than doing nothing. Be sure to identify yourself as a constituent and include your land address.

For more information on contacting legislators, see the WPA handbook, Chapter 30, pages 215-217.

What Do I Say?

• If possible, begin with an issue that you and the legislator agree about. Even if you are from different political parties and have different ideas and perspectives, there is sure to be something that has nothing to do with homeschooling that you agree about. Thank them for their work on that issue. But if you can’t find anything you agree about, skip this step.

• Explain that Wisconsin’s homeschooling law is working well and does not need to be changed. Make it clear that you do not want favors such as tax credits, tax deductions, permission to play on public school sports teams, etc. This may surprise your legislators because most people do want something from the government. The goal is to convince your legislators not to introduce any homeschooling legislation themselves and, when they hear another legislator raise the possibility of homeschooling legislation, to say, “Oh, I’ve met with and heard from homeschoolers, and I know that the current homeschooling law doesn’t need to be changed, and they don’t want any favors.” This will do a lot to prevent homeschooling legislation from being introduced.

 

In Addition

• Let WPA know what you did and how your legislators and their aides responded. Email WPA, leave a message on the WPA voicemail at 608-283-3131, or send a note to the post office box.

• Encourage other homeschoolers to contact their legislators. The more of us who work together, the more likely we will be to maintain our homeschooling freedoms.

Download Open Letter to Legislators 2015

01/05/2015

Open Letter to Wisconsin Legislators

January, 2015

Open Letter To Wisconsin Legislators

From: Wisconsin Homeschoolers Working Together Through WPA

Subject: Why We Do Not Want Tax Credits or Other "Favors" for Homeschoolers

To maintain our freedoms and responsibilities, thousands of Wisconsin homeschoolers have been working together since 1984 through Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA), a state-wide grassroots organization that welcomes all homeschoolers. Through discussions, newsletters, resolutions, and conferences, we have come to the following conclusions:

Virtual charter school are not homeschools, even though they sometimes market themselves as homeschools. Please keep in mind that virtual charter schools are public schools. They receive tax dollars and are subject to state regulations that apply to public schools. Homeschools are not public schools and do not receive tax dollars. Regulations that are applied to virtual charter schools should not be applied to homeschools.

The current homeschooling law is working very well. Since this law was passed in 1984, approximately 150,000 formerly homeschooled young people have smoothly entered or re-entered conventional schools. Approximately 25,000 homeschool graduates have found employment and/or attended college. Despite strong efforts, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the teachers unions have not found evidence that homeschooling does not work.

Wisconsin needs thriving homeschools as alternatives to conventional schools. Without alternatives, Americans would lose their freedom of education. Homeschoolers save Wisconsin taxpayers approximately $250,000,000 per year in per pupil costs.

Programs that give public moneys to homeschoolers would undermine our freedom to homeschool, as would legislation that attempts to guarantee our rights and freedoms. Government "favors" would require that homeschools be accountable to the government, which would make homeschools more like public schools. Our goal is to make your job as easy as possible and our homeschooling as successful as possible. No new homeschooling legislation is needed, and essentially any legislation would have drawbacks and risks.

Therefore, we do NOT want:

• Vouchers for private schools, including homeschools.

• Legislation that guarantees homeschoolers access to public school courses and/or extracurricular activities, including the right to play on public school sports teams.

• Tax credits or tax deductions for homeschooling expenses.

(When individual families want or need something specific from their local school district, they can make arrangements with local school officials, as families have been doing since 1984.)

In addition, we do not want legislation or constitutional amendments that supposedly guarantee parental rights. Parents already have rights and responsibilities. They come from God or nature, not the government. Proposals that supposedly guarantee parental rights backfire because they give the government a way to define and control fundamental rights.

Increased regulation of homeschooling is unnecessary and would undermine homeschools that are working so well. The current law holds homeschooling parents accountable. Increased regulation would force homeschools to become more like conventional schools. In addition, "hard cases make bad law." In other words, a law designed to take care of the worst possible hypothetical case is almost certain to be long, difficult to enforce, and more likely to prevent good people from doing good than bad people from doing bad.

We appreciate Wisconsin’s homeschooling law and do not want it changed. Homeschoolers are unusual in this regard. Many people do want money or other benefits from the government. But, trust us, we don't. Legislators who want to do something for homeschoolers can help us most by understanding our position and not introducing, cosponsoring, or supporting legislation relating to homeschools, including legislation that might be thought to help us. Thank you.

For more information or to discuss these ideas, please contact us.

wpa@homeschooling-wpa.org   or 608-283-3131

 

Download Open Letter to Legislators 2015

12/19/2014

Homeschoolers and Curfews

Homeschooling parents and children out in public during conventional school hours in the Green Bay area may be questioned by police as part of their effort to reduce truancy by enforcing the county’s 1998 daytime curfew ordinance. (This is not an attempt to target homeschoolers. Also, the ordinance applies only to Brown County.)

Continue the work homeschoolers working together through WPA have done for many years to prevent problems such as this by opposing curfews.

Please share this information with others.

 

Continue reading "Homeschoolers and Curfews" »

11/23/2014

Stop the Spread of Dangerous, Incorrect Information About Form PI-1206.

Tell other homeschoolers: You are required to file form PI-1206 even if you begin homeschooling after the third Friday in September. (An organization based outside Wisconsin says on its website that families who begin homeschooling after the third Friday in September do not have to file the form.)

Tell other homeschoolers: You are required to file form PI-1206 ONLINE each year you are homeschooling. (The organization based outside Wisconsin states on its website that filing a paper version of the form is an “option.”)

Tell other homeschoolers: You can trust information from WPA because WPA took the lead in the development and passage of Wisconsin’s homeschooling law in1984 and has successfully maintained homeschooling freedoms in Wisconsin for over 30 years despite many challenges from school officials and other opponents of homeschooling.

Tell other homeschoolers: To protect your family and your homeschooling freedoms, support WPA.

SUMMARY

An organization based outside Wisconsin has posted inaccurate information about homeschooling in Wisconsin on their website. If homeschoolers take action based on this information, critics and opponents of homeschooling will be able to claim that homeschoolers are not obeying the law. This could easily lead to increased state regulation of homeschooling in Wisconsin, which since 1984 has had one of the best homeschooling laws in the country. Wisconsin homeschoolers are NOT required to take state-mandated tests, are NOT required to submit their curriculums for review and approval, are NOT required to report to school officials, etc. Homeschoolers in most other states are required to do one or more of these. Let’s work together through WPA to maintain our freedoms. Let’s not allow dangerous and incorrect information from outside Wisconsin to rob us of our freedoms.

See below for an explanation of these statements.

 

Continue reading " Stop the Spread of Dangerous, Incorrect Information About Form PI-1206." »

09/02/2014

WPA Gets DPI to Change Language on Enrollment

Good news! As a result of the serious analysis and careful negotiations that WPA has done over the past several weeks, today the DPI agreed to change the language on its website concerning when enrollment in a homeschool occurs.

It has agreed to remove language that says that a child is officially enrolled in a homeschool when their parent or guardian files form PI-1206. This change is another important action by WPA to maintain our homeschooling freedoms and parental rights.

As we know, enrollment in a homeschool begins when a parent decides to homeschool their child and begins to fulfill the requirements of the Wisconsin homeschooling law. Enrolling is distinct from filing form PI-1206, which means reporting the enrollment in a homeschool as of the third Friday in September, the 19th this year.

Therefore, if public school officials threaten you with truancy if you don't file the form before the third Friday in September, calmly and diplomatically tell them what the law says and that now the DPI has changed what it used to say about enrollment and filing form PI-1206.

Thank you to the courageous homeschoolers who, in recent years, knew their rights and refused to file the form early. One such homeschooling mom had to face police at her door and calmly explain what the law said. (She was a new homeschooler who had read her WPA Newsletter and the WPA handbook.) Without this kind of knowledge and action on behalf of parental rights, we surrender our homeschooling freedoms inch by inch.

For the details of how WPA was able to get the DPI to change its language, see the chain of WPA requests and the DPI's responses below. These details and language should be useful to parents who are working to counter unreasonable demands by their public school district.

Download WPA and DPI Exchange on Homeschool Enrollment

08/28/2014

WPA Key to Wisconsin Court Case That Supports Homeschooling Freedoms and Parental Rights

WPA was contacted by a homeschooling father who had been a member of the Amish community. As a result of a divorce settlement, a Wisconsin Circuit Court Commissioner had ordered that his homeschooled children attend a public school. The father asked WPA for help in appealing this ruling.

Continue reading "WPA Key to Wisconsin Court Case That Supports Homeschooling Freedoms and Parental Rights" »

How Questions about School Enrollment Affect Parental Rights

   The extent to which we maintain our parental rights and responsibilities depends on how we think, act, and react, especially when dealing with public officials, including school officials.

Continue reading "How Questions about School Enrollment Affect Parental Rights" »

How New Homeschoolers Can Deal With Challenges from School Officials

Summary: School officials sometimes challenge parents who remove their children from a public school to begin homeschooling. Here’s how to minimize the chances of this happening to your family and what to do if it does. Note that how you respond depends on when you are beginning homeschooling.

Continue reading "How New Homeschoolers Can Deal With Challenges from School Officials" »

Resolution: Maintain the Distinction Between Homeschooling and Public Virtual Charter Schools

At the annual WPA membership meeting during the WPA conference on May 3, 2014, at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, WPA members passed this resolution.

Continue reading "Resolution: Maintain the Distinction Between Homeschooling and Public Virtual Charter Schools" »

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