December 18, 2001, meeting called by Rep. Rohrer to negotiate compromise on diploma question

[Note: The following is an excerpt from Howard Richman's testimony about House Bill 2560 presented on June 13, 2002, at the informational meeting of the House Education Committee. The footnotes at the bottom appeared as part of Howard's written testimony that was submitted to the committee to accompany his spoken testimony. Howard was speaking as executive director of Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency]

This bill is designed to take away our diploma option.8 I was involved in the formulation process and I know. Not only does it eliminate the specific provisions mentioned in the Department's policy [which recognizes these organizations to give diplomas to graduates of home education programs], such as evaluators, portfolios, and due process hearings,9 but it specifically prevents the Department of Education from enacting any "policy" which provides even so much as a "suggestion" to a home education program.10

During the formulation of this bill I let Rep. Rohrer know exactly what language we would need to protect recognition of our diplomas. On December 18 he called a meeting to forge a compromise between us and those who favored parent-issued diplomas. At that meeting, we agreed to accept their parent-issued diplomas so long as they also recognized our organization-issued diplomas. Rep. Rohrer included the compromise language in the January 22 draft11 and the very next day I e-mailed him thanking him for listening to our deep concerns.12 However, he did not stick to the compromise reached. The next draft of the bill, and every succeeding draft, including the one in front of you today, ended recognition of our diplomas.

During a meeting in my state representative's office, we put a conference call through to Rep. Rohrer's office and I asked his assistant, Jim Cox, why he had taken out the language that would have protected our diploma. He said that he did so in order to prevent a "hierarchy" of homeschool diplomas. In other words, those who favor parent-issued diplomas knew that if they didn't eliminate our diploma, their diploma would be lower on the hierarchy!

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Footnotes:

8See Appendix C for a more complete discussion of the affect of HB 2560 upon the homeschool organization diploma option.

9 See Appendix D for the PA Department of Education application form which outlines their policy.

10The specific language which prevents the Department from adopting such a policy is the following paragraph from page 11 of HB 2560: “(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant by implication or otherwise to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any of its officers, agencies or subdivisions any right or authority to control, manage, approve, supervise or make any suggestion, rule, standard, regulation, policy, procedure or requirement as to the control, management or supervision of a home education program.”

11The relevant language from the January 22, 2002, draft was the following: “(d) The Department of Education shall maintain a list of non-profit home education organizations whose standards and procedures for evaluating home education students' portfolios in grades nine through twelve meet the graduation requirements of this section. The department shall also maintain a list of distance learning programs whose standards and procedures for grades nine through twelve meet the graduation requirements of this section. Diplomas awarded by these home education organizations, distance learning programs, or by the supervisor of a home education program to any student who has met the requirements of this section shall be recognized as a valid high school diploma.”

12In my January 23, 2002, e-mail to Rep. Rohrer (cc’d to Jim Cox) I wrote: “Thank you so much for listening to my deep concern about how the bill would affect our diploma program. I am very appreciative of this draft....”


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