By Tony Perkins
Well, that didn’t take long! Less than two weeks after we warned families to be on alert about new regulations for homeschooling, a Virginia district made prophets out of us. In a serious swipe at parents’ rights, the Goochland School Board tried to slip a new rule past homeschoolers that would have given the district the right to question homeschoolers about their religious beliefs. Starting at 14, students would be hauled before the Board and interrogated about the sincerity of their faith and whether they really want to be homeschooled.
Goochland insisted it was doing this — not to interrogate kids — but to “update procedures” on the religious exemptions for homeschoolers. But “updating procedures” shouldn’t require a religious cross-examination. “The School Board reserves the right to schedule a meeting with the parent(s) and, in the case of a student age 14 or older, with the student… The purpose of the meeting is for the School Board to determine whether the request for exemption is based upon a conscientious opposition to attendance at a public school or at a private, denominational, or parochial school due to bona fide religious training or beliefs. Such meeting will be conducted in a closed meeting of the School Board.”
Fox News’s Todd Starnes, who broke the story about the District’s subversive tactics, said at least one family took Goochland to task. Parents of seven children, the Pruietts saw right through the charade. “When I spoke with the school superintendent about this issue, he stated that part of the rationale in changing the policy was to allow the board to ascertain if a home-schooled child really wants to be home schooled so that they, ‘can be given the opportunity to go to public school.’”
And the Pruietts weren’t alone. On Tuesday, people packed into the Goochland School Board meeting to speak out against the idea—bolstered by national groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association. To their credit, the Board members listened and ultimately relented, voting to drop the policy altogether. Unfortunately, this is just a sign of things to come for homeschooling families across the country, as the numbers continue to grow and threaten the government’s grip on children.
In Virginia, at least, State Senator Richard Black tweeted that he plans to keep this from ever happening again. “I have introduced legislation to stop this sort of intimidation of Virginia’s homeschooled students.” Let’s hope other legislators follow his lead and put an end to this notion that the government knows better than parents.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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