I'm confused about the proposed Universal Pre-Kindergarten legislation. Some friends are saying that all private schools will have to become accredited. Is that true? Why do we even have this legislation?
First, the UPK program is mandated through the Florida Constitution. That fact cannot be changed, so a bill was inevitable. Knowing that, it was very important to Brenda Dickinson that we have the least intrusive bill possible. The best solution was to make the UPK program voluntary, as a "scholarship" program. Those parents, and schools, not wishing to participate will not be required to.
Secondly, this bill does not require the development, in the FDOE, of a Division of Early Learning. No homeschooler wants the DOE looking into the 'education' of our children from Birth to age 5.
Thirdly, schools not participating (i.e. taking state money for the program) will not be required to be accredited. Nothing will change for 600 schools who are not now, or do not plan to be, participating in state-funded scholarship programs.
For background information on the original threats to educational freedom, please re-read HEF's letter from 2/18/04. If leaders are not on the HEF loop, and would like to receive their information first-hand, please ask them to let us know. We would be happy to add them. I am also attaching below HSLDA's response to this question.
Have a great day, and thank you for checking with us for clarification.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. C,
HSLDA has not taken an official position on either bill, but I've been following this legislation closely.
I believe that Brenda Dickenson is correct in her assessment: the FL legislature is obligated to develop some program along these lines, and HB 821 appears to be the best version that will satisfy all sides. HB 821 is far better than what we saw earlier this year. It's certainly not perfect, but it may be the best that conservative parents can accomplish, given the situation.
This legislation will NOT require 600 schools to be accredited. It is a voluntary participation program to receive grant money for starting a pre-K program. Only if you seek the grant for a pre-K program will you be required to comply with the accreditation and learning standards requirements.
Legal Assistant to Christopher J. Klicka
Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134-9000