Good morning!

HB1183 (Lingamfelter) and HB375 (Carrico) were both heard in this morning’s House Education Committee meeting.

Membership of this committee (members present are in bold): Tata (Chairman), Hamilton, Landes, Lingamfelter, Rust, Fralin, Cole, Gilbert, Janis, Athey, Pogge, Massie, Loupassi, Shuler, Alexander, Ebbin, Ware, O., Shannon, McClellan, Tyler, Bulova, and Morrissey

HB1183 Testing Options (Lingamfelter):
This was the first bill heard this morning at 8:41. The amendment in the nature of a substitute was adopted. Del. Lingamfelter explained that this bill provides three additional options to have the progress of a homeschooled student measured. He then asked HEAV, Virginia Homeschoolers, and HSLDA to testify. Before all of the testimony was complete, Del. Hamilton, Del. Ebbin, Del. Morrisey, and Del. McClellan raised questions about several issues.

Del. McClellan found fault with the idea that anyone with a master’s degree could evaluate a student’s progress. Del. Hamilton and Del. Morrissey questioned the subjective nature of the student portfolios. Hamilton said he would not support the bill’s current language.

Scott Woodruff (HSLDA) noted the evaluation of a student is ultimately placed in the hands of an ‘expert’ of some kind, and many of the ‘experts’ detailed in the bill were actually required to be more qualified than school superintendents.

Because of the heated questions, Chairman Tata sent HB1183 back to subcommittee.

Del. Lingamfelter, HEAV, HSLDA, and Virginia Homeschoolers quickly left the committee room hoping to fix the bill so that HB1183 would not have to be sent back to subcommittee. Del. Lingamfelter suggested the following amendments.

Amendment 1: On line 37 strike “in” and insert “academic discipline.”

Amendment 2: Within the little “(ii)” on line 36 after “progress,” insert, “including but not limited to:”; strike “(iii),” insert “a”; strike “(iv),” insert “b”; strike “(v),” insert “c.”

These amendments addressed the concerns raised by the committee members. All homeschool organizations agreed to this amendment.

Del. Tata later brought HB1183 back before the committee. Del. Lingamfelter explained the proposed amendments and it was voted to add the amendments to the bill.

Del. Alexander expressed that he still had concerns and said there should be consistency to the evaluation, adding that he would like to see the state Board of Education set the progress levels.

Del. Morrisey said the word “or” should be inserted into line 34. This was accepted by the committee.

HB1183 was reported 20 to 1. (Alexander was the only member who did not vote to report.)

HB 375 Sports Access (Carrico):
Unfortunately, I was out of the committee room for several minutes discussing HB 1183 with Del. Lingamfelter, HSLDA, and Virginia Homeschoolers while HB 375 was being heard. I missed the first few minutes of the testimony about this bill. I do know, however, that several representatives of the VHSL spoke against the bill while I was away. When I returned to the room, Del. Fralin was addressing the committee.

Del. Fralin said that the issue raised by the VHSL was an interesting one because the state has given jurisdiction to the VHSL to make decisions regarding students. Del. Hamilton expressed concern that this bill would create an uneven playing field for public school students and homeschool students.

It was moved that HB375 be reported. This billed failed to report, 12 to 10 (Landes, Lingamfelter, Fralin, Cole, Gilbert, Athey, Pogge, Massie, Loupassi, and Morrisey voted to report).

A motion was made to PBI (pass by indefinitely) the bill. The vote to PBI HB 375 was successful, 12Y, 8N. The bill failed.

-Whew- What a meeting! That’s all for now. I’ll be sending an overview of the status of all of our bills later today.