2017 was a milestone year for homeschooling in Arizona. There were 1079 bills introduced at the State Capitol. The legislature passed 353 bills. Eleven were vetoed. And of the 342 bills signed into law, only a handful were granted a ceremonial photo op with the Governor. HB2389 was one of those.
Why was HB2389 important for the ongoing success of homeschooling in Arizona? We faced a serious situation that needed a legislative remedy.
Over the years, AFHE has assisted many homeschool graduates who were unfairly treated because government agencies didn’t accept their diplomas and transcripts. Taking the GED was not a solution, because many employers view the GED negatively. Using the GED as a credential is like admitting we gave our children a subpar education. Over three decades of research and experience strongly suggest the opposite! A homeschool education is, in fact, a great education!
So we successfully negotiated with the Arizona Board of Regents and the three state universities to recognize our homeschool diplomas, transcripts, and GPAs along with our SAT and ACT scores when awarding scholarships.
We reached agreement with the Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training, giving graduates with homeschool diplomas and transcripts access to some 163 Arizona agencies which provide jobs as peace and correctional officers.
And we reached agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services that they would accept the homeschool diploma and transcript. Homeschool graduates who had been demoted or lost their jobs were fully restored.
Even with all these successful policy negotiations we knew they could easily be undone by the stroke of a governor’s pen or a simple policy change. AFHE sought a more permanent solution to translate these individual victories into a law which would govern all state agencies.
Our arguments before the legislature were simple and straightforward. Parents and students who followed the state’s compulsory attendance laws should not be penalized by state regulatory agencies concerning employment, university access, and scholarships. We explained that Social Security, the Veterans Administration, the US Department of Education, the US Department of Defense, and various Congressionally-enacted laws already acknowledge the homeschool diploma and transcript.
HB2389 is two sentences consisting of 54 words. Its strength is not in its length but in its placement in law. By assigning it to Title 1 of state statutes it became incumbent on ALL arms of government in Arizona. Its reach extends to county, city, and town governments along with universities, community colleges, and school districts, reclamation and flood control districts, and even quasi-public corporations like the Salt River Project. All government entities must recognize and treat all public, private, charter, ESA, and homeschool diplomas and transcripts in the same manner.
This bill, when combined with AFHE’s previous legislative wins, makes Arizona a premier state in which to homeschool.
Bills of this caliber and successes like these don’t just happen. They require boots on the ground. They require recognizance, intelligence, and the will to win. They require partners such as the Center for Arizona Policy (which provided critical assistance this year with HB 2389), legislators and researchers, and involved parents like you.
Tom Lewis has been active in the homeschool movement since the mid-1980s. He served on the board of AFHE for over 12 years, serving as President, Director of Public Relations, and Director of Legislative Affairs. Tom also launched the AFHE Scholarship program. Tom and his wife Colene live in Gilbert where they completed homeschooling their three daughters.