SACRAMENTO —They came by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, easily exceeding the capacity of the legislative committee hearing room and making their presence felt throughout the State Capitol. And at the end of a very long day, homeschooling families scored a major victory — defeat of a bill with serious privacy and safety implications.
For more than three hours, families and freedom advocates streamed in front of microphones to state their opposition to California State Assembly Bill 2756. Pacific Justice Institute was also represented and voiced its opposition. Large numbers of opponents made the trek from Southern California, the Bay Area, and every other part of the state. The opponents included a number of professionals, state-credentialed teachers, and self-described progressives and liberal Democrats.
AB 2756 originally sought to require fire inspections of all homeschooling families. Not surprisingly, firefighters objected to this sweeping new job requirement, and the bill was amended. It then sought to mandate state disclosure of the names and addresses of homeschool families. Currently, this requirement only applies to private schools with six or more students.
Just prior to yesterday’s hearing, the author of the bill, Asm. Jose Medina, announced he was dropping the public disclosure requirements, but still insisted that the State needed to gather more data on homeschoolers.
After hours of hearing from concerned families, Asm. Medina made a last-ditch plea for the bill by invoking James Madison. The irony was not lost on listeners aware of the fact that homeschooling was the norm during the founding era.
Nor was it lost on attendees that, while countless families traveled across the state and waited for hours to make their voices heard, many with small children in tow, the lawmakers on the committee disappeared during the proceedings and did not have a quorum to take a vote at the conclusion of the testimony. Later, it was revealed that no member of the committee was willing to make a motion for a vote, so the bill was defeated without any legislator having to take a firm position.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “This is a victory worth celebrating. For many years, PJI has been a leader in defending homeschoolers in California, including the landmark defense of homeschooling in Jonathan L., and we were honored to stand with them throughout this process. All is not lost in California; when we stand together, we can still make a difference.”