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2004 Legislative Summary

Homeschool High School Diploma Bill
HB 675 Patroned by Del. Rob Bell of Charlottesville, this bill will change Option 1 under the homeschool statute requiring a parent to have a baccalaureate degree to homeschool and replace it with a provision allowing a parent with a high school diploma to homeschool his or her children. Over the past 20 years, it has been proven that, regardless of a parent’s educational background, there is very little difference in the child’s scores on national standardized tests.  Furthermore, Virginia is the last state to use the baccalaureate degree as a threshold to homeschool.  Better than 60 percent of states use the high-school diploma.  We would like the General Assembly to bring Virginia more in line with these states. The rest of the states do not use any threshold. After much heated debate, the bill passed the House and Senate, and then was vetoed by Governor Warner. FAILED (Update Feb. 16, 2004)

Child Abuse Prevention And Training Act
SB 584, the Senate version of the CAPTA bill patroned by Senator Bill Bolling and HB 1135 patroned by Delegate Bob McDonnell, will require all child protective service workers to inform parents of the allegation at the initial point of an investigation of alleged abuse. It would also require training for these workers in the constitutional rights of children and families, including Fourth Amendment and parental rights. Federal funds would be provided for the training. PASSED (Update May 12, 2004)

PSAT and AP Tests
HB 480 Patroned by Delegate Richard Black, this bill would have permitted “a student who is homeschooled, upon the written request of a parent, to take the battery of achievement tests that have been approved by the Board of Education for use in the public schools, including the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) and Advanced Placement tests in the public schools. [The student would have to] take the same achievement tests on the same day, at the same time, and under the same testing conditions as public school students.” Though the patron intended to duplicate what had been achieved in his local district, time was insufficient to gather additional research to garner support in the General Assembly. Therefore, the patron had the bill “stricken from the docket,” i.e., removed from consideration. FAILED (Update May 12, 2004)

Tax Credits
HB 1036
Patroned by Delegate Chris Saxman, this bill would have created a tax credit to promote educational opportunities for children who are at risk of educational failure. Tax credits [would] be awarded to business entities for eligible contributions made to eligible, nonprofit organizations offering tuition-assistance grant funding. The contributions would be awarded as grants for students’ tuition in public and nonpublic schools. Though homeschoolers would not have benefited from this bill directly, a representative from the promoting institute told me that a strong possibility exists that future versions of this bill might include homeschools. (HEAV opposes vouchers, but supports tax credits.) FAILED (Update May 12, 2004)

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