THSC Review - August 2013 * Volume 17, Issue 3 - page 21

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Texas Home School Coalition Review
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When it comes to freedom, there are always battles. Some battles are
fought in the trenches, at sea, or in foreign lands. Other battles are waged
in courtrooms amid a sea of papers. They are fought on native soil at state
capitals, and although the battle may not be bloody and the wounds may
be invisible, they are battles nonetheless—battles for our freedom.
These are fights Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) is committed
to winning. During each legislative session THSC works diligently to pro-
tect the freedom of parents to direct the care and education of their
children.
The THSC Watchmen
“I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be
silent.”
Isaiah 62:6
Aptly named for their cause, the THSC Watchmen worked diligently
to represent home schoolers’ concerns at the Texas Capitol during the
2013 legislative session. These home school graduates represented THSC
as articulate, confident, well-informed, living and breathing examples of
home schooling success. During their time of service, under the direction
of THSC president Tim Lambert, the Watchmen labored to educate leg-
islators regarding THSC’s views on hundreds of bills, clarified questions
regarding how the various bills might affect home schooling families, and
persuaded them to see things from THSC’s point of view. The Watchmen
sifted through 9721 pieces of legislation, tracked more than 125 bills, and
killed twelve different bills that would have harmed home schooling
and/or parental rights on a wide variety of fronts. They were instrumental
in keeping the home school community aware of the dangers of SB 303,
which would have given the final authority for doctors to make certain
end-of-life decisions for sick children without informing the parents. Calls
from the home school community flooded offices of representatives after
the Watchmen sounded the alarm.
Another bill the THSC Watchmen brought to light would have allowed
fourteen-year-olds to consent to their own immunizations. In the Texas
House of Representatives, the Watchmen’s work forced the author to
dramatically limit the scope of the bill. In the Senate, the bill did not have
enough time to gain traction and died in committee. The Watchmen also
expressed their concerns related to House Bill 772, which would have re-
corded the immunization records of all Texas families unless the family
opted out of the system, leaving those families vulnerable to accusations
of child abuse for not immunizing their children.
THSC worked to create and lobbied hard for legislation that would
have amended current law and allowed home schoolers to participate
in University Interscholastic League (UIL) events with public school stu-
dents. This would have given thousands of home schooling students ac-
cess to public school activities and facilities that their parents help fund
through property taxes. The bill, often called the
Tim Tebow Bill
, passed
the senate by an overwhelming majority but died in committee when
Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock of Killeen singlehandedly blocked the pas-
sage of the bill by preventing it from coming up for a vote under House
rules. Although the bill did not pass this session, the
Tim Tebow Bill
made
more progress this session than it ever has before and likely would have
passed had there been a different chairman heading the Public Educa-
tion Committee.
Another continuing battle is the one for the Texas Parental Rights
Restoration Act. HB 2547 would have raised the standard of evidence
from “preponderance” to “clear and convincing” when overruling the
rights of fit parents. The bill died without debate or a vote in the Texas
House. In the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, Chairman West blocked
a vote on SB 1194 by Senator Campbell, which was the Senate version
of the TPRRA. While it is disappointing that TPRRA did not pass, signifi-
cant progress was made this session. In the previous session there was
no corresponding Senate bill. This session, hearings on the TPRRA were
held in both the House and Senate, and more witnesses testified than
did two years ago. More and more legislators are becoming aware of
the problem, and support for the THSC position is growing. Work on this
issue will continue as bills are re-filed next session, and legislative candi-
dates will be educated on the issue during the next campaign season.
To Fight Another Day
In regard to parental rights, THSC had a substantial impact through
its work to defeat bills proposing to expand the number of families that
could be sued under the Grandparent Access Statute. Sponsored by the
Family Law Foundation (FLF), Senate Bill 1148 was effectively killed by
overwhelming opposition from parents and families across Texas. The
bill went too far in allowing non-parents to sue fit parents. It would have
allowed a judge to overrule the constitutional right of fit parents on the
basis of testimony from anyone, instead of an expert, regarding what
would “significantly impair the physical health or emotional well-being
of a child.” The bill would have directly impacted low-income parents,
who are less able to bear the financial burden of protecting their parental
rights. THSC contended that parental rights are for all parents, not just
those who have the financial means to defend them. In an effort to save
the bill, Senator West, who carried the bill, sought a compromise pro-
posed by FLF. However, the compromise was rejected by THSC because
it still expanded the number of families exposed to such lawsuits and
removed the requirement for expert testimony. HB 391, the House ver-
sion of the FLF’s bill, died in the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil
Jurisprudence. Had THSC not been there to sound the alarm on these
bills, they may well have passed, to the detriment of the fundamental,
constitutional right of parents throughout Texas.
Victories
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