Virginia Capitol Building at Homeschool Day at the Capitol - Vaccine legislation

Sports Access Fails with Disparaging Remarks

Sports access, introduced by newly elected Delegate Marie March (R-Floyd Co.), passed the House then failed in Senate Education, but not before insulting remarks caught the attention of HEAV’s lobbyist Ann Hoopsick and many homeschoolers. During the discussion of HB 511, Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) opposed sports access by reminding the committee that a former senator once said homeschoolers who lie on the couch all day should not be able to compete with students who are required to attend school all day.

Spontaneous moans rose from the audience resulting in the chairperson scanning the room to remove the offenders. HEAV’s lobbyist immediately left the meeting and went to Senator Howell’s office to ask for an apology–not only to the senator’s homeschool constituents but to the statewide homeschool community.

HEAV called on homeschool parents to respond to the senator’s demeaning remarks to hard-working homeschool students and self-sacrificing homeschool parents. We asked parents to email or call Senator Howell’s office to report on their students’ academic successes so the senator would understand that her perception of home education was inaccurate.

The next morning, HEAV’s lobbyist returned to speak with Senator Howell personally and give her accurate homeschool information and statistics. She refused to hear anything about home education. Her only response was to have homeschoolers stop calling and sending emails. It was disrupting their work.

Thank you to those who contacted the senator and took a stand for home education and fellow homeschoolers. We may never win the votes of some legislators, but we can make sure they have the facts and know that we are watching what they do.

Read email messages sent to Senator Howell and copied to HEAV with permission to use.

“We all make mistakes, but this was a doozy!” wrote one homeschool mom who responded to a demeaning statement about homeschoolers during the final meeting of the Senate Education Committee.

OUTCOME OF ADDITIONAL BILLS OF INTEREST TO HOMESCHOOLERS

Passed Legislation Effective July 1, 2022

  • Tax Deductions for Teachers (HB 103) – Homeschool and public school teachers, among others, were included in a $500 tax deduction bill. Homeschoolers were amended out of the legislation before the bill passed.
  • Driver’s Licenses (HB 1050) – Students can obtain a driver’s license by means other than coming before a judge.
  • Mandatory Parent/Student Component (SB 78) – An additional 90-minute parent/student component will be included in classroom driver education courses for student drivers.

Failed Legislation

  • Religious exemption for immunizations (HB 306)
  • Income tax credit for homeschoolers and private school students (HB 784)
  • Instate college tuition for active-duty military dependents (HB 1333)
  • Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts (HB 1024)

Because of your prayers and financial support, HEAV can protect your rights and advocate for better homeschool laws. If you’re not an HEAV member, would you join us in carrying on this vital work?

Best regards,

Yvonne

READ THE EMAILS SENT TO SENATOR HOWELL.

Senator Howell,

Good afternoon. I am writing as a former public school teacher (a decade of experience) and current homeschool mom. I also own an educational evaluation and consulting business, so I have extensive experience with homeschoolers from a wide variety of backgrounds.

It is incredulous to say homeschoolers can “lay on the couch all day.” Could they? Sure. In theory. Have I EVER met such a family? Absolutely not.

That’s like saying teachers can just sit behind a desk all day. Can they? Sure. Do 99% of them? No way.

Learning experiences for homeschoolers are hands-on and rigorous. As an educational consultant, I have had the opportunity to watch hundreds of homeschoolers advance academically in many ways, both in and outside their homes. Co-ops, sports, art classes, volunteer opportunities, and course content are just a few ways homeschoolers spend their days.

Your comments are inflammatory and out of touch. I am shocked that you could be so callous. I hope that you rescind your comments and make this right. You represent all of your constituents, not just those in the public school system.

Jenna

Senator Howell,

The idea that homeschool students sit on the couch all day is ill-conceived and demonstrates a complete ignorance of homeschooling.

I have homeschooled my four children since 1995. My oldest began community college classes at the age of 12 and received 50 college credits by age 14. At 14, she entered VCU College of Engineering with a full four-year merit scholarship. She was accepted to VCU, as well as the University of Richmond. While at VCU, she was awarded a national scholarship for $7500 – the Goldwater Scholarship. She graduated summa cum laude and went on to medical school, finishing her fellowship at Duke University. She currently works as a diagnostic radiologist at VCU Health.

Our second son also entered VCU College of Engineering with a full four-year merit scholarship at age 14, having completed 40 credits at community college. He graduated cum laude and continued his education at Penn State with a SMART scholarship, receiving his Ph.D. He now works for DoD at the Night Vision Lab.

Our third and fourth children – twins – also went to VCU with full four-year merit scholarships. Our son will graduate cum laude in May from the College of Engineering with a major in computer science. Our daughter majored in psychology, graduated summa cum laude, and is now at VCU working on a Master’s in addiction studies.

These children did not accomplish any of these things by sitting on a couch.

The “couch” comment is rude, inaccurate, and shows total ignorance of homeschooling and a total lack of respect for homeschoolers. Mrs. Howell owes an apology to each and every homeschool student and their parents.

I was the coordinator for the first College Fair at the HEAV Homeschool Convention in 2015. Thirteen colleges came to recruit our homeschool students. By 2019, we had over 50 colleges attending our convention’s College Fair. These colleges did not come to recruit couch potatoes.

Pam Proffitt

Senator Howell,

I am very disappointed to read your remarks about homeschoolers lying on the couch all day.

My older daughter is a high school junior, taking rigorous courses that include AP Calculus and dual-credit courses (for high school and college credit) in art, literature, and history. She took dual credit chemistry as a sophomore last year. She will enter college in 2023, nearly if not completely finished with her freshman year required credits. She has not achieved these distinctions by lying on the couch.

My younger daughter is in eighth grade but is taking high school-level Spanish and Algebra 1 classes. She’s considering whether she wants to plan to finish high school in three years. If she wants to, she will be able to do it. She has not already begun earning high school credits by lying on the couch all day.

Please make a public apology for this gaffe. We all make mistakes, but this was a doozy.

Maria Keffler

Senator Howell,

As your constituent, I was very offended by your statement in opposition to homeschool students being allowed to join public school sports by saying they just “lay on the couch all day.” I’d challenge you to come visit a day in the life of my three currently homeschooling boys (soon to be five.) I’ll put our schedule up against anyone. And then secondly, I’d put up our academic achievements compared to public school students as well, which will prove we do way more than “lay on the couch all day.”

I ask for your apology personally and publically for speaking entirely out of line towards something you obviously know nothing about in an effort to push an anti-homeschool agenda.

All the best,
Shane

Senator Howell,

I’m writing in regard to the comments you made about homeschoolers in the Senate Education Committee last week. I am very concerned about your opinion of homeschoolers. Allow me to discuss a little about our homeschool (and, for that matter, almost every family that I know who homeschools their children.)

Contrary to the comment that homeschoolers sit on couches all day, my children and I maintain a rigorous home education plan. We fostered and then adopted our children – all of them have special needs due to the trauma they previously experienced. I advocated for my children to homeschool so they would receive one-on-one attention and flexibility for their needs.

When my children came to our home, they were extremely delayed in every area – speech, gross and fine motor skills, social skills, skills of daily living, and more. Suffice it to say, after three years of formal home education, they are now well above their peers in every area. They score in the 93-98th percentile on standardized testing (whether that is even the best measure of assessment is up for debate.)

My children are active in various social groups, play the piano, read at three grades above their “grade level,” have phenomenal social skills with all age groups, and are able to explore areas of interest to them in our afternoon times. They are learning woodworking, gardening, caring for chickens, cooking, budgeting their money, exploring nature, drawing and painting, and more. They are thriving and are excited to learn.

I am fully confident that all of these successes are attributed to the home education environment we provide. Please understand that comments such as yours give others a poor understanding of what home educators really do. We sacrifice greatly to provide an incredible education, and we LOVE what we do. Might I also say that this is not limited to my family, but rather, this is the rule – not the exception. Homeschoolers score 31 to 37 percentile points above public-school students’ standardized scores.

We would appreciate an apology for this comment. I would invite you to attend some home school events, like the Home Educators Association of Virginia’s Convention in June, to dive in and understand just how incredible this community is!

Thank you so much for your time and your understanding!

Homeschool Parent

HEAV,

Honestly, I usually just sit on the sidelines because I don’t have the time to invest in this sort of thing. However, I did watch the video clip and am disgusted by Sen. Howell’s remarks. I emailed the address below to request a public apology. Thank you for all you do to support home instruction!

Dawn

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