Decoding the Opposition’s “Alternate Facts”

During the April 6, 2017, public hearing on SB640 (UIL/”Tebow”) in the Senate Education Committee, a few of our group’s representatives testified in opposition to the bill. We received a lot of pushback from the legislators who weren’t interested in hearing an opposing opinion than their own. During the senators’ “discussions” (aka lectures) with our group representatives, a few of the committee members misstated facts or made statements that we were not allowed to address during the hearing. We’d like to take a moment to rebut or clarify those statements now. Here’s the videos:

  1.  Van Taylor misunderstands Dual Credit Requirements – Senator Van Taylor seems to be confused about the difference in standardized tests for high school students and entrance exams into higher learning institutions. He mistakenly says that homeschool students have to take standardized tests to be allowed to participate in Dual Credit at their local college. All students, including dual credit students, take an entrance exam as part of their admission’s requirements for higher learning. This is not just a homeschool requirement.  It is also not a “norm” test. It is an entrance exam equally administered to all applicants to a college and it is not a reason to justify additionally testing homeschoolers for participation in UIL. Public schoolers do not take standardized tests to participate in UIL or to be eligible under No Pass No Play. See the requirements for the Alamo Community College System Dual Credit requirements in Bexar County (one of the largest in the State) for both private/public schooler and homeschoolers. There is NO difference.

2. Video of Larry Taylor suggested that students being homeschooled could be “abused” – Senator Taylor states students are abused by not receiving a “proper” education and, therefore, the standardized testing provision in the bill is a good mechanism to prove otherwise. In this video, Senator Donna Campbell also thinks there should be a testing requirement for homeschoolers to measure “accountability”. If homeschoolers can be tested under this bill, what’s to stop the government from saying, “Well, these homeschool students don’t mind being tested, so what’s the problem with making all homeschool students do it? We have to test their academic performance to ensure they’re not being abused.” Mr. Taylor was alluding that some failing public school students would drop out of school to homeschool so they could cheat the system by still participating under UIL. I’d like to point out that same public school student was being “abused” by the public school system, not by the homeschooling one and it’s no reason to add testing “accountability” to homeschoolers.

3. In this video, Donna Campbell questions Read King about his homeschooling P.E. program – Newsflash: We don’t need public schools to provide Physical Education classes or opportunities; and as homeschoolers, we don’t have to prove “in a measurable way” how our kids are being taught PE at home, especially since it’s not a legally required course of instruction for homeschool/private school. Some public schoolers only requirement to pass PE is to show up to class. Is that her definition of “measurable”?

Below is the public school required coursework, per the Texas Education Code:

 

 

Here is the homeschool required coursework, per the Leeper decision:

4. In this video and this one, Senator Larry Taylor misunderstands the difference between standardized tests like STAAR and what is required under No Pass No Play. Again, this is misinformation. As we discussed in an earlier post from April 12th: 

“In section 411 of the UIL Constitution, it states that public school 9th graders should be promoted from the previous grade. 10th-12th graders need only to earn the required credits that count toward graduation (see below).

Presumably, that grade must be above a 70% to be considered a passing grade, although TEA/UIL allows that a school can set a stricter standard (see below). Under SB640, homeschoolers would be required to pass a standardized test every two years, as well as pass all their courses. This is an unequal standard with the greater burden placed on homeschoolers.

There seems to be some misinformation circulating, mainly from THSC and repeated by our legislators, about the STAAR requirement vs. No Pass No Play to be eligible to participate in UIL activities through the public schools.

STAAR is a Texas standardized test used for performance assessment and administered to students in 3rd grade, 5th grade, and 8th grade. It is not an annual test given to all students in every grade and does not influence UIL eligibility. UIL governs children from 7th-12th grade (and in some cases, 6th graders), thereby ruling out any governance of elementary children who participate in STAAR testing.  The final STAAR test is given to 8th graders. They must pass the test or follow the “grade placement committee (GPC)” guidelines to demonstrate grade-level proficiency (see below). Again, this doesn’t affect UIL eligibility because if an 8th grader does not pass the STAAR or cannot meet GPC standards agreed upon to show academic mastery prior to the start of 9th grade, the student may not be promoted to the next grade. The fact that a 9th grade student is enrolled suggests that they’ve already met promotion eligibility standards set by whatever school they matriculated from whether it was a private, public, charter, or homeschool. Why must homeschoolers be required to pass a standardized test to prove they have met some arbitrary standard?

“No Pass No Play” is the rule that TEA and UIL uses to determine participation in public school extracurricular activities, again for 7th-12th graders (see below). It’s based on students passing their required classes set forth by the Texas Education Code that earns accumulated credits towards high school graduation.”

5. Here Donna Campbell thinks “talented” homeschoolers should be able to show off their athletic abilities, but presumably they’re only able to do that in a public school setting.  You aren’t permanently homeschooled, Senator. You can choose to put your kid in public school. Also, public school isn’t the only place to excel in extracurricular activities. It’s actually the opposite. Public school athletes are leaving the school programs and prefer to compete with organizations like AAU. They get better, more intimate training and opportunities for higher visibility to scouts. NOTE: The irony of passing SB3 (“school choice” subsidies) was to say public schools are failing, but now they want to encourage homeschoolers to use it for athletics opportunities. What does that say about the priority of the Texas education system?  You’re now inviting the public school rot into our community by allowing an opportunity for failing public school students to find ways to get around meeting eligibility standards, thereby, negatively associating homeschoolers with cheating behavior, poor academic performance, and subsequently, inviting more oversight on homeschooling families. Here are two great articles about the homeschool athlete and alternatives way to get them to college teams. It brings up great ways students (not just homeschoolers) can work directly with organizations like the NCAA Eligibility Office to be able to participate in collegiate sports without having had competed through your local public school.

6. Video of Donna Campbell stating homeschoolers should be allowed to participate because they pay taxes. My 65 year old neighbor who is a retired public school teacher also pays taxes, but she doesn’t get access to the school resources either. Neither do other private schoolers. Does this mean private schoolers now have a case for violation of equal protection under the law?

7. Donna Campbell said in this video and this one she didn’t understand why opposers of SB640 don’t want others to have choice when it’s an “opt-in” program. Let me explain it in way that a conservative, pro-life senator might relate – Planned Parenthood could make the same statement and as conservatives we oppose them, too. For us, it’s not about trying to keep others from exercising “rights”, but an effort to preserve those rights. As parents, we already have choice. We can choose to homeschool or choose public school. If you want “both” then perhaps you need to enroll in K-12 which is a public school online from home. You’re still not considered a homeschooler, and there is no need to make all the other concessions for homeschoolers. It harms no one. So choose. Which is more important – liberty or sports? In order to expand their spectrum of “choice”, they want to endanger our homeschool liberties. They already have a choice.

 

 

 

 

 

HB640 Public Hearing Testimony

On April 6th, the Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on SB640, also known as the UIL “Tebow” bill. A few of our group’s representatives went to testify in opposition to the bill and we received quite a lot of pushback from the legislators. You’ll be interested to see the follow-on comments from the legislators after their testimony. We’ll break down their comments in an upcoming post, but I wanted to let you hear for yourself the uninformed and frankly, down right hostile, comments made by some of your legistlators to citizens who were publicly testifying on behalf of many Texas families who oppose this bill. Keep in mind, there was a two minute time limit for each testimony given. You’ll hear the beeper go to indicate their time was up. In the cases like Read King, the legislators spent the next 14 minutes lecturing him on how he was wrong in his opposition.

 

Senator Kel Seliger’s Words on SB3 Vote

A big thank you to Senators Carlos Uresti and Royce West who voted NO today during the Senate Education Committee vote on SB3. Senator Kel Seliger is also appallingly the only Republican legislator who honored his conservative roots by rejecting public subsidies for private education and growing state spending and regulations. Thank you, Senator Seliger, for voting NO!

Texas Senate Education Committee Vote on SB3

Thank you to all those who voted NO on SB3. With the exception of Sen. Kel Seliger, Republicans just showed how utterly irresponsible and reckless they are willing to be with public funds in the name of #SchoolChoice and #EducationReform. Sen. Kel Seliger's comments were brilliant and he should be highly commended.https://www.facebook.com/AliceL.Linahan/videos/426372644379500/

Posted by Alice Linahan on Thursday, March 23, 2017

 

Republican legistors have acted foolhardy and capriciously with public monies in the name of “school choice” and “education reform”. Contact your state legislators and let them know you do not support SB3 or any bill that promotes government subsidies for education (including any bill that would add new regulation and accountability to Texas homeschool families)!

Our Members Testify Against SB3

Several of our members testified against SB3 at the Senate Education Committee public hearing on Tuesday. You can find video of their testimony below.

Here’s one of our directors, and homeschooling mom, Faith Bussey testifying against SB3.

Texas Homeschool Mom, Faith Bussey's testimony at the Senate E…

Texas Homeschool Mom, Faith Bussey's testimony at the Senate Ed hearing against SB3 Education Savings Accounts (ESA)s. Yes, SB3 is a part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative Machine's transformation in Education.Below is Faith's written testimony:"My name is Faith Bussey, and I am a homeschool mom of three. When my husband and I decided to become a homeschool family, our income was below poverty level. We had to make some hard choices, like living in a small home that we could actually afford, one car that I could drive occasionally but not too far because of gas prices, no smart phones, no cable, hand-me-down clothes for me and the kids, two haircuts a year, curriculum bought at Half-Price Books, and a full time babysitting job to make ends meet. We so believed in this calling, that we were willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. After a few years, I helped start a homeschool group and then a co-op that served over 100 families from all backgrounds. To my knowledge, we had no millionaires, but we did have single moms who we worked with so that they could provide for their little family and still homeschool their children. We so believed in their calling, that we were willing to do whatever it took to find free market, community, and faith-based solutions to help them make it happen.The scariest words these families have heard are: “I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.” When the government steps in to help the private sector, the free market loses. When public money can be used to subsidize the private sector with or without strings attached, freedom loses. Parents lose because costs go up, and government grows because subsidies increase demand. This is basic economics, y'all. Most people, including most legislators, don't know that homeschoolers don't have accreditation or State-Approved Vendors for curriculum or hoops to jump through now. For those saying this bill won't affect those who don't take the money, are you aware that Texas has more homeschooling freedoms than any other state in the union? Are you aware that all those other states with Voucher and ESA bills didn't increase regulation on homeschoolers because those states already *had* regulations? This means we have more to lose if our legislature opens the door to try to “help” us. As a Christian, Conservative, limited-government, homeschooling mom, I implore the members of this committee to vote down SB3. Don't try to give a free private education to the people who weren't willing to make the sacrifices our families made. If you truly want to help us and help those other families, find ways to let us keep more of the money we earn. Find a way to let us live in the property we bought without having to pay for it yearly with our firstborn to keep it. Find a way to simply Leave. Us. Alone."

Posted by Alice Linahan on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

 

Here is testimony by Andy Prior, a track coach, and our Public Spokesman.

Texans for Homeschool Freedom – Andy Prior Testimony Against #SB3Excellent Testimony! Be sure to click "Like" and "Share"!

Posted by Alice Linahan on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

 

Director of Texans for Homeschool Freedom, Ginger Russell, gives her testimony to the committee.

Texan's for Homeschool Freedom Director, Ginger Russell's Testimony at the Senate Ed hearing on Jeb Bush's #ExcelInEd funded SB3 Education Savings Accounts (ESA)s

Posted by Alice Linahan on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our member and homeschooling dad, Read King, testifying below against SB3. Notice near the end Sen. Van Taylor questions Read on his homeschooling law facts and asserts that he doubts Read would be able to provide him with the homeschool laws of the other states. Sen. Taylor, who is a co-author of SB3, and sits on the Senate Education Committee, shows his unbelievable ignorance of Texas homeschool law.

Texas Homeschool Dad Read King testimony against SB3 #ESA

Interesting exchange at the end. Why didn't Sen.Van Taylor want to go into understanding Texas Homeschool Dad Read King? Was it because Read King was in opposition to Pro-Common Core Jeb Bush's #ExcelInEd funded SB3 Education Savings Accounts (ESA)s. Yes, SB3 is a part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative Machine's transformation in Education.

Posted by Alice Linahan on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Here is Geren King, son of Read King (above), and a homeschool student, testifying against SB3. This was Geren’s first time ever publicly testifying and we couldn’t be prouder! Way to go Geren!

Texas Homeschool student Geren King testified against #SB3. The Education Savings Account (ESA)s. #StopJebEdinTx #Txlege #Txed

Posted by Alice Linahan on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our member and homeschool mom, Angela Blackburn testified on Tuesday.

Texas Homeschool and Public School Mom, Angela Blackburn's testimony at the Senate Ed hearing on Pro Common Core Jeb Bush's #ExcelInEd funded SB3 Education Savings Accounts (ESA)s. Yes, SB3 is a part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative Machine's transformation in Education.

Posted by Alice Linahan on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our homeschooling mom, Traci Hooks, testifying below. 

Texas Homeschool Mom, Traci Hooks' testimony at the Senate Ed hearing against Pro Common Core Jeb Bush's #ExcelInEd funded SB3 Education Savings Accounts (ESA)s. Yes, SB3 is a part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative Machine's transformation in Education.

Posted by Alice Linahan on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our member Erin Greene, a former teacher, and a mom testifies on Tuesday.

Texan Mom and former Teacher , Erin Greene Testimony at the Senate Ed hearing on Pro Common Core Jeb Bush's #ExcelInEd funded SB3 Education Savings Accounts (ESA)s. Yes, SB3 is a part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative Machine's transformation in Education.

Posted by Alice Linahan on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

 

SB3 Senate Ed Committee & the Bogus THSC Testimony

 

The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on SB3, the “FakeESA” school choice bill, on March 21st. The committee listened to ten hours of testimony from both supporters and detractors of the bill; Included amongst those who testified were Jeremy Newman and Tim Lambert from Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC). THSC has worked all this legislative season to convince our legislators that they can speak for all homeschoolers in Texas and has done so through what can only be described as dubious means. In its latest effort to obfuscate the truth, THSC conducted a phone push poll through a third party company, Ragnar Research Partners, who called some Texas homeschoolers and asked questions that were clearly biased toward getting a response of being pro-ESAs. We are aware that many folks who were called by this company did not respond to the poll questions; many were given nebulous answers when they challenged the caller on who they were and who was behind the poll. Needless to say, it sounds like the poll did not go well and we can only assume the quantitative results were less than accurate. But that didn’t seem to deter THSC who included their poll “results” during their testimonies to senate committee members on Tuesday. They stated that 71% of homeschoolers support ESA’s. Listen to that testimony by Lambert and Newman here.

or here: Lambert & Newman Testify in Support of SB3

 

Here are 3 reasons why that poll was bogus.
1. You couldn’t possibly know that 71% of ALL homeschoolers support ESAs. There is no real data on how many homeschool families there are in Texas. Ragnar Research Partners certainly didn’t call all of them to ask what they thought of ESAs. Ragnar can say that of those who completed the poll, 71% said they support ESAs. But that would also be biased, because you have no idea how many responded. What if 7 people answered out of the 1000 that were called? Now you’re missing the qualitative data that could say a majority of your responders were so offended by the poll they refused to participate, so the 71% result could mean nothing.
2. The questions were biased – When you ask someone whether they support having savings accounts made up of your own tax money set aside for their child’s education, who wouldn’t agree to that? But that’s not what this ESA is. It’s a taxpayer subsidy of OTHER PEOPLE’s money, not your own. So again, that quantitative data is meaningless if 71% of those polled agreed with your skewed questions. 29% still DISAGREED with supporting ESAs. What that poll data really says is that 71% of those who agreed to answer your question support a version of education savings accounts. (Disclosure: To date, we have not seen the poll results, all of its questions, or any of the data related to the poll like how many people participated vs. how many were called. We don’t believe that information has been made public by THSC or Ragnar.)
3. Who supplied the polling company with the names and contact information of homeschoolers? We have been told that THSC commissioned the poll. Did THSC give your information to a third party? Did you agree to have your information shared?
COMMITTEE RESULT: The committee voted today to move the SB3 committee substitute out of committee to the senate floor for consideration. We have not yet seen what the substitute bill looks like. The committee votes were as follows:
Sen. Larry Taylor – YES
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. – YES
Sen. Paul Bettencourt – YES
Sen. Donna Campbell – YES
Sen. Bob Hall – YES
Sen. Don Huffines – YES
Sen. Bryan Hughes – YES
Sen. Kel Seliger – NO
Sen. Van Taylor – YES
Sen. Carlos Uresti – NO
Sen. Royce West – NO

Call your senators and reps and tell them NO to SB3!