Attorney General: “I am not Lobbying for Change!”
By: Mike Donnely
April 24, 2012
Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Ohio. He and his wife homeschool their children.
In a recent meeting, Ohio’s attorney general assured HSLDA and state homeschool leaders he has no intention of pressing for change to laws governing home education.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly, Christian Home Educators of Ohio President Wayne Clark and CHEO Legislative Liaison and Board Member Melanie Elsey met with Attorney General Mike DeWine the afternoon of April 17. They discussed the media controversy sparked by the Dayton Daily News story that linked the death of 14-year-old Makayla Norman to “lax homeschooling regulations.”
The paper reported comments by the attorney general that seemed to indicate his desire for some changes to the current homeschool regulatory framework in Ohio. However, DeWine told HSLDA in the meeting that he had no intention of contacting the legislature about the issue.
“This is a Medicare fraud case,” DeWine said. “I told that to the reporter and said that this really wasn’t about home education.”
“They are Great Kids”
DeWine went on to praise home educators as caring and conscientious.
“Homeschooling parents obviously care very deeply about their children. Homeschooling is a tremendous commitment, and I have great respect for parents who undertake the task,” he said. “When I served in the U.S. Senate in Washington, I visited with a number of homeschooled students and graduates. They are great kids—bright, well-read, and well-rounded. I am not lobbying for legislative changes.”
The three homeschool advocates then met with House Speaker William Batchelder, who has had a distinguished career serving the people of the 69th District of Ohio. The current speaker has served as both representative and judge in Ohio over his long career and has had great experiences with home education.
“Homeschooling is a tremendous asset to many families,” Batchelder said. “In Ohio we will protect the freedom that allows parents who want to choose this option. I have many homeschooling families in my district who do a tremendous job, and I know that the overwhelming majority of homeschoolers in Ohio are conscientious and diligent undertaking the task with great care. The legislature has no interest in making changes to the current framework.”
Donnelly responded to the Daily News article with an editorial that can be found here. Since then the paper has written a follow-up story that places the issue in its proper context as having virtually nothing to do with home education. Nevertheless, this article should provide a warning to homeschoolers.
Donnelly says he told DeWine that there is a strong desire among many policy makers to impose greater control on parents who homeschool, and that the news story is just an example of how those who want to impose more control advance this agenda.
“The paper used the attorney general’s comments to advance a narrative and policy agenda of those who favor increased state control over citizens,” Donnelly said. “There are many who seek to use even the most tenuous link to homeschooling to advance the narrative that children need to be under state control and oversight and that parents cannot be trusted. It is important that homeschoolers stick together and respond vigorously to these attacks to protect our freedom.”
Donnelly encouraged Ohio homeschoolers to support CHEO.
“CHEO is a critical friend to HSLDA in the fight to protect our freedoms,” he insisted. “As an organization they do important work to support and encourage home education, and through their legislative liaison work they are responsible for protecting freedom and advancing the cause of home education. Every homeschooling family in Ohio ought to support CHEO; $30 is a small price to pay for the work they do. And with the $20 HSLDA membership discount that comes with CHEO membership, it virtually pays for itself.”
Elsey and Clark both praised the work HSLDA does for homeschooling everywhere.
“CHEO is grateful to HSLDA for its work protecting homeschoolers in Ohio and for it support of CHEO. Ohio homeschoolers receive great value from HSLDA, and we encourage them to support freedom by becoming members. Given the opportunity, there are those who would impose more restriction on homeschoolers. It is critical that we have an association like HSLDA with its resources and professionalism to work alongside us,” said Clark.
HSLDA supports the work of CHEO and like-minded organizations. We will be attending the CHEO convention in Akron in June and hope to see many of you there. Donnelly will be in attendance as a workshop speaker. The convention is a great place to receive encouragement and to obtain resources for all aspect so the homeschooling journey.
HSLDA wishes to express its thanks to Attorney General DeWine and Speaker Batchelder for investing their time to meet with HSLDA and CHEO to discuss how important it is to preserve the fundamental freedoms for parents to homeschool their children. The citizens of the state of Ohio are blessed to have such leadership in place in the highest offices of their state government.