By Brittany Jones, an attorney and Policy Manager for Family Policy Alliance
Parents, not faceless government officials, have the fundamental right and solemn duty to direct the education and upbringing of their children. Clear and simple. This is not only a guiding legal principle in our country, it is a reality lived out by parents every day—because only parents can truly know their children and make decisions in their children’s best interest that will set them up for the best future possible.
Directing a child’s education about the world, academics, and faith is the most important duty of a parent. Because children typically spend 7-8 hours of their day in an education setting, the influence of that environment fundamentally influences children culturally, socially, and spiritually.
This means that parents must be free to choose a method of education that best aligns with their faith and and their child’s learning style. When parents are free to do this, they are creating the best foundation for their children to grow into a wide-open future and providing them the fuel to explore God’s unique calling in their lives.
Thankfully, there’s a growing variety of educational choices for parents, though some states are more friendly when it comes to meeting families’ education needs than others. The education method this article focuses on is homeschooling.
As you may know, Tim Tebow—the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion quarterback—was homeschooled. But thankfully for him, he lived in Florida, where home schoolers are allowed to play sports on public school teams. Had he lived just a bit further over on the Georgia side of the state line, for example, he wouldn’t have had this opportunity.
Family Policy Alliance supports a policy that’s become known as a “Tebow Law,” a law in the majority of states that ensures children who are homeschooled have the same opportunity to access public school extracurricular activities as other children. We believe that a child’s learning style and academic needs should never prevent her from participating in skill-building extracurricular activities. States like Georgia, West Virginia, Hawaii, and Kansas still deny homeschoolers this access. Unfortunately, “Tebow Bills” in both Georgia and Kansas this year never even made it out of committee. There is still a chance in West Virginia and Hawaii for their bills to be passed.
Tebow Laws create a small opportunity for children now that can lead to a big future.
In addition to supporting good laws that expand opportunities and choices for children who are homeschooled, Family Policy Alliance and our state-based family policy council allies fight against bad bills that would limit those choices.
Recently in Hawaii, homeschoolers rallied to defeat a bill that would have allowed a school superintendent to deny parents the ability to homeschool their children. Hundreds of homeschoolers turned out to testify in opposition to the bill. Eva Andrade, President of Hawaii Family Forum, our allied group in Hawaii, shared how families came together to defeat this bad bill:
“Something powerful happens when faith-based homeschoolers come together and raise their voices. Not only were the legislators amazed at the turnout, they could not silence the articulate and passionate voices of families in the trenches that do this important work every day. It was an honor to stand in their shadow.”
God calls and equips parents to raise up their children according to His Word. And we also know that God has a unique calling in every child’s life. Our heart at Family Policy Alliance is to partner with godly parents to help them see good bills passed in their state that will increase opportunities for children and protect the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
If you agree that giving children have a wide-open future and the fuel to explore God’s calling in their life is best for every child in your state, and every state, we hope you’ll consider partnering with us.
Congratulations, Hawaii Family Forum, on 20 years of protecting family values in your state!
January 15th marked the 20-year anniversary for Family Policy Alliance’s state ally, Hawaii Family Forum.
In a state that tends to lean Left politically, Hawaii Family Forum, led by executive director Eva Andrade, has helped protect families in some incredible ways over the years.
Most recently, Family Policy Alliance worked with Hawaii Family Forum to help defeat assisted suicide in the state in 2017—despite a spend of over $1 Million by the leading advocates for doctor-assisted death. Hawaii Family Forum’s message that every life is worth fighting for—and that no one should be abandoned to hopelessness and death—resonated with Hawaii’s family-centered culture. And Hawaii Family Forum has defeated every effort to legalize assisted suicide since their founding in 1998.
Since 1998, Hawaii Family Forum has stood strong despite pressure to legalize gambling, which can prey on already hurting families. Hawaii remains one of only two states with no legalized commercial gambling!
And Hawaii Family Forum’s original executive director, Kelly Rosati (who later went on to serve as Focus on the Family’s Vice President, Advocacy for Children), drove the efforts to secure the first-ever legislative override of a governor’s veto in the state in 2001.
Kelly worked tirelessly with legislators to help pass a law to raise the state’s age of sexual consent from 14 to 16-years-old in order to provide greater protection for children. Hawaii’s then-governor vetoed the bill, and Kelly said at the time that the veto was “an affront to all the parents and concerned citizens of Hawaii who demanded action this legislative session to protect Hawaii’s minors from adult sexual predators.”
Kelly didn’t let the veto stop Hawaii Family Forum. She rallied Hawaii families to persuade legislators to ultimately override the governor’s veto for the first time ever!
Hawaii Family Forum has worked tirelessly to protect families—especially children and the elderly—for 20 years, and our Family Policy Alliance team is so proud to ally with this amazing ministry!
We asked Eva Andrade, Hawaii Family Forum’s executive director, about her ministry serving families in Hawaii: “There is something invigorating and humbling about standing for the values that make this country (and our state) great. In Hawaii, we have been able to promote righteousness because it is in our state motto, “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ‘Āina i ka Pono” (The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness.) For 2o years, we have stood firm for faith, family and religious freedom. The excitement never ends because now we can look toward the next 20 years with hope and anticipation for what the Lord has yet to accomplish through all the men and women that continue to pray and stand with us.”
Congratulations again to Eva and Hawaii Family Forum!
Want to know if you have a Family Policy Alliance state ally in your state? Check here.
Elizabeth has brain cancer, but she’s made the decision to live every moment with her family. She knows real suffering, but she also knows real hope and a life worth fighting for.
Increasingly, activist groups are pushing for legalized assisted suicide so that doctors can prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients like Elizabeth. Nationwide, 45 bills to legalize assisted suicide have been introduced. With your help, Family Policy Alliance and our network of 40 state-based family policy councils have been able to stop all of these bills so far this year by revealing the many layers of abuse and the culture of hopelessness and death that come with legal assisted suicide.
“The lead activist group pushing to legalize assisted suicide spent over $1 Million in Hawaii alone,” said Stephanie Curry, public policy manager for Family Policy Alliance, “but Family Policy Alliance and our state ally Hawaii Family Forum worked with families concerned about the potential for abuse against the elderly and those with serious illnesses to stop the Hawaii bill.”
That potential for abuse is why assisted suicide is illegal in most states. Only a handful of states have legal assisted suicide and until recently, Alabama was one of only three states that didn’t have a specific statute prohibiting the practice. The Alabama Legislature just passed a law that would officially make assisted suicide illegal in the state. HB 96 also includes criminal penalties for those who try to administer a lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill patients.
This bill upholds the sanctity of human life in the state and provides protection for the elderly, those with physical and mental disabilities.
“We are thrilled to work with families across the country who believe every life is worth fighting for,” Curry said. “No one should be abandoned to the hopelessness and lack of care that comes with assisted suicide—we can work together to come up with far better options for our loved ones than that.”
The people in Hawaii took action last week and succeeded in getting an assisted-suicide bill deferred in a House committee. Thousands of people called or emailed their legislators urging them to oppose any bill that would allow a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to a terminally ill patient.
Eva Andrade, president of Hawaii Family Forum, said deferring the bill showed sound moral reasoning by lawmakers.
“In the recent hearing on the issue, led by Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Health Committee Chair,” Andrade said, “we saw the committee members raise serious concerns about ‘medical aid in dying,’ challenging those representing both sides of the issue. They asked difficult, but necessary questions. There were many unanswered or unsettling responses by proponents.”
Compassion and Choices, a pro-assisted-suicide group, is now working to get the bill out of committee to force a vote on the House floor.
Andrade said assisted suicide puts many people at risk of abuse, including the elderly, the mentally ill and those with disabilities.
“We know that the people of Hawai’i are ready and willing to unite to teach our keiki (children) that suicide is a never a solution,” she added, “and that our kupuna (elders) should be protected from potential abandonment, coercion and abuse. Caring for people at the end of their lives is true ‘aloha’ and that’s worth fighting for!”