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Homeschool Freedom Threated in Puerto Rico (September 30, 2005)
Background - Spanish Summary

On September 23 we received the following urgent email from Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Senior Counsel (and Practical Homeschooling magazine columnist) Chris Klicka:


On September 16, 2005, a duplication of the worst proposed homeschooling law in the history of home education was introduced in the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico. PC 1954, was submitted by Representative Garcia Caban, and has been referred to the Education and Culture Committee for consideration. The same bill was introduced in 2002, but did not get out of committee.

Representative Caban chose the most restrictive provisions from the worst homeschool laws in the United States. If the proposed bill becomes law the burden on homeschool families will be immense.

The following is a list of requirements that will be imposed on homeschoolers if PC 1954 becomes law:

  • The curriculum or study plan shall comply with the basic elements in the schools of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as determined by a five-member board appointed by the Governor. The board members must have at least ten years teaching experience.

  • Parents will have to maintain a register containing evidence of materials used with educational purposes, writing samples, worksheets, exam grades, uniforms, students' jobs, vaccination record, and a register of days and hours of study.

  • Each homeschool student will be evaluated by way of an interview annually by licensed psychologist or teacher certified by the state.

  • The homeschool board will decide whether academic progress of the student is "poor" based upon an evaluation by a licensed psychologist or teacher certified by the state of the annual register and test results from the annual examination of the students.

  • Each student will have to annually take uniform examinations created, approved, provided, administered and supervised by the board and the department of education.

  • The homeschool board, amongst its powers, will employ a teacher or supervisor that will make a home visit to the families four times a year.

  • The department of education will have the authority to establish regulations to regulate the homeschool programs and the date on which the uniform exams will be taken.

  • Parents must have a college degree OR be supervised by a certified teacher.

  • Should the parents not hold a college degree, they must be supervised by a private tutor that must be a certified teacher, or a private school, but the parent must still submit to all of the above requirements as part of the homeschool program requirements. The supervisor must have weekly contact with the homeschool family.

  • An annual affidavit to apply for homeschooling must be submitted 60 days prior to the beginning of school year.

  • The annual affidavit will require such information as: names and ages of the children with their social security numbers, vaccination evidence, and a certification that the teacher and all adults living in the home have not been convicted of breaking a "moral depravation law" within the last five years.

ACTION TAKEN: Due to the threat to freedom posed by PC 1954, a coalition of homeschoolers has been formed in Puerto Rico to work with Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and its members. The purpose of the coalition is to defeat this bill, or any other that might be introduced to restrict homeschool freedoms in Puerto Rico.

Coalition members include:

Ann Esteras - Caguas
Eric y Nancy Morales - AHEC Dorado
Edna Rodriguez - Gurabo
Jose y Millie Escudero - AHEC Manati
Hector y Carmen Torres - AHEC Bayamon
Jose Sanchez - AHEPA San Lorenzo
Maria Rivera - GAMEH Gurabo
Jose y Jenny Curet - ORPEC Guaynabo
Carlos Perez - HSLDA Rio Piedras

This group will hold meetings and communicate all the relevant activities through the various support group leaders and HSLDA.

We are in contact with several of the key homeschool leaders in Puerto Rico, including attorney Carlos Perez-Sierra and veteran homeschooler Jose Curet. We will coordinate with the leaders in Puerto Rico to mount opposition to this bill. However, one of the keys to defeating PC 1954 is to have every homeschool family in Puerto Rico actively working to defeat this bill. Amending the legislation is not acceptable; we must defeat PC 1954.

"It's an outrage that this bill has been reintroduced. This is an affront to freedom loving people, especially homeschoolers," said Michael Smith, President of HSLDA.

ACTION REQUESTED (by all friends of homeschooling):

Pray that God will preserve home education by the defeat of PC 1954. Pray for unity among homeschooling leaders and support groups as they work together to oppose this bill.

ACTION REQUESTED (for homeschoolers living in Puerto Rico):

  1. Please immediately contact your territorial organization or local support group. Networking with other like-minded homeschoolers is crucial at this time.

  2. Monitor the HSLDA website (www.hslda.org) for up-to-date information regarding PC 1954.

  3. Be prepared to attend a hearing at a moment's notice before the Education and Culture Committee in San Juan. We will provide detailed information if a hearing is scheduled.

  4. Pass this information on to any of your friends and family who are homeschoolers or who may be concerned about family freedom in Puerto Rico.

Background

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