When I first heard that House Bill 1052 was in the works, I wondered how it would be received by the North Dakota Legislature. After all, homeschool legislation has historically been met with debate and a bit of skepticism. In fact, it may surprise some of you to know that educating your own children wasn’t even legal in the state until 1989.
As you probably already know, HB 1052 addresses a 2007 Attorney General’s opinion that interprets North Dakota’s current law as restricting those who can supervise home education to parents only. If signed into law, the definition of “parent” would be expanded to include “a child’s legal guardian”. The definition of “supervise” would include “the selection of materials, determination of an educational philosophy, and oversight of the method, manner, and delivery of instruction.” For homeschoolers, this is big.
The North Dakota Home School Association (NDHSA) and Rep. Dan Johnston (R – District 24) deserve a tremendous amount of credit for HB 1052. The legislative road this bill has traveled is literally nothing short of perfection.
Before it even became an actual piece of legislation, key figures in the process worked with the offices of the Governor, Attorney General, and Department of Public Instruction to get their support. After its final draft, it was assigned a bill number and heard in the House Education Committee where it was given a unanimous 13-0 Do Pass recommendation. When it hit the House floor, there was no debate and it passed on a 90-0 vote.
This week HB 1052 went before the Senate Education Committee and some of us again wondered if there would be a bump in the road. But no, here too it came out with a unanimous 7-0 Do Pass recommendation. Today it went to the floor of the Senate and without any debate passed 42-0.
I think it’s important to note that not once was this bill amended in committee. When considering this, together with each unanimous vote, it almost seems miraculous— especially for homeschool legislation. It’s truly a testament to the solid work done in the process of it all. And not only that, but it shows how far homeschooling has come in North Dakota over the last 30 years.
As it stands now, HB 1052 simply needs Governor Doug Burgum’s signature. And considering the fact that his office expressed support throughout the process — including committee meetings — it seems like a sure thing that this is going to become law. What a tremendous thing for the State of North Dakota and all those who homeschool in our state.
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