Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Daily Signal on April 30, 2018.
They came by the hundreds, one newspaper said—“perhaps thousands.” Some traveled hours, others waited hours, all for the opportunity to protest one of the most outrageous homeschooling bills ever introduced: California’s AB 2756.
Spilling out into crammed hallways and overflow rooms, families poured into the Statehouse just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes speaking out on a measure that would give the government more power over parents who educate at home.
Initially, the bill tried to mandate fire inspections of all homeschooling families (which, not surprisingly, firefighters rejected). Then the proposal was amended—this time to force homeschooling families to give out private information about the names and address of homeschooling families.
Liberals used a nightmarish story to prop up their argument, insisting that the case of the Turpins, parents who used homeschooling as an excuse to torture and starve their kids, meant that greater oversight was necessary.
Conservatives fired back. Committee member Kevin Kiley said that using the Turpin family to create law was not good policy. “That is an extreme outlier case. Any data set will have extreme outlier cases.”
Nearly 1,000 people spoke out in opposition, reporters said, including Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen. “AB 2756 is absolutely wrong. It must fail. It must fail today,” he said. “California’s parents and children have the right to the very best education this state can possibly provide.”
The line of opponents waiting to testify snaked around the building—many, one outlet pointed out, “with small children in tow.” By afternoon’s end, only two people from the surrounding area spoke in support of the controversial bill.
Hours later, families got the news they’d been waiting for—“no member of the committee was willing to make a motion for a vote.” The bill was dead. Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, cheered the outpouring of parents from around the state. “All is not lost in California,” he said. “When we stand together, we can still make a difference.”
Family Research Council’s good friend and fellow Watchman on the Wall, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills pastor Jack Hibbs, who helped flag this issue for thousands of Christian families, celebrated on Facebook. “This is a great lesson to everybody—stand for what’s right and do the right thing. This is a great victory for homeschoolers everywhere! We live to fight another day!”