School flexibility movement led by Idaho
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)
A revolution in school flexibility was initiated by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-Idaho) this spring when he signed legislation that enforced a law requiring public schools in Idaho to provide “reasonable accommodations” to meet all students’ individual needs — not just special needs children — including homeschool students who dual enroll in public school classes or sports.
Before Otter signed Senate Bill 1293 into law, public school law only protected students afflicted with disabilities so that they were the only ones who were entitled to reasonable accommodations on campuses across the United States.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) maintains that Otter is setting the standard for public schools from coast to coast.
“The new law gives all students the right to reasonable accommodations — even those who have no disability,” HSLDA reports. “Idaho appears to be the first state in the nation to require public schools to offer this level of flexibility to all students.”
But currently in the other 49 states, such flexibility for every student is little more than an unrealistic or “pie-in-the-sky” ideal.
“Schools are not required to provide accommodations, however, that would substantially impact staff, resources, safety, efficiency or supervision,” HSLDA Staff Attorney Scott Woodruff explains. “Schools are required only to use their ‘best efforts,’ and may ‘balance’ a request for accommodation against the needs of other students, the teacher’s workload and the impact to the classroom.”
The ultimate accommodation …
Woodruff argues that only homeschooling provides the environment that can truly accommodate students’ needs — even far and beyond the ability of K–12 campuses throughout Idaho, which can only do so much in an institutionalized public school setting.
“Public schools will never be able to match the way a homeschool program can be individually tailored to meet the needs of a student,” the HSLDA legal expert continued. “But we congratulate the main sponsor of the bill, Senator Mary Souza, in bringing unprecedented flexibility into Idaho public schools.”
Woodruff then points out how the Idaho Education Committee-sponsored Senate Bill 1293 was designed to tailor-fit the educational environment for students as best as possible, with the bill’s summary noting that they will have right to such accommodations — ones that are naturally afforded through homeschooling.
“This bill would give all students who are enrolled in classes at a public school the right to receive reasonable accommodations,” the mandate’s summary reads.
Cleaning up the bill
HSLDA was pleased when Souza made the decision to side with parents and their children when making some final adjustments on the bill.
“Senator Mary Souza has graciously agreed to remove the small amount of language in S. 1293, the parental rights bill, that HSLDA objected to,” the Christian nonprofit legal group announced. “With those changes, this is now an excellent bill that will give parents whose children attend public school a meaningful amount of leverage when they ask a public school to treat their child a bit differently than others.”
According to HSLDA attorneys, such a measure has the potential to set a precedent for public schools so they will no longer force students to receive a cookie-cutter education that many parents have complained about — especially since the fairly recent nationwide implementation of the Obama administration’s “one-size-fits-all” K–12 Common Core federal standards.
“This innovative bill is a truly a leap forward in getting public schools to provide education that, for those who need it, is tailored to the individual student,” HSLDA stated. “This will also benefit homeschool families who dual enroll their child for a class in a public school.”
The pro-family organization is now urging Idaho parents to make sure that the amendment to the bill is supported by the state’s senator by offering the following argument.
“With the amendment [to Senate Bill 1293], it is an excellent bill that gives parents a meaningful voice when they ask a public school to treat their child a bit differently than others,” lawyers with HSLDA insist.
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