In 1981, my five-year-old son failed kindergarten. The teacher said he was socially immature and would benefit from another year in kindergarten. As a young mother, I believed that the teacher knew best.
At age six and in his second year of kindergarten, after being harassed physically and emotionally by the other students for being a “flunker,” my son essentially became a “drop-out.” He used every excuse from being too dumb to being too sick to avoid going to school.
My husband and I were desperate to find alternatives. I was a trained teacher and home schooling seemed like an obvious solution. After we talked it over with some friends the Wallace family, who had similar issues with their two children not fitting into the “cookie cutter” model of the average public school student both of our families decided to home school our children.
Nevada law stated simply that parents could home school. But after the Wallace children missed their first week of school, the Wallace family was notified by the Humboldt County School District that their children were truant, and that unless they were enrolled immediately in public school, the children would be removed to foster homes. In a court battle against the school district, the judge determined that unless a family lived 50 miles or more from a public school, it could not home school.
We joined with the Wallace family and took the home-school fight to the next level, the Nevada State Legislature. Assemblywoman Jane Ham introduced Assembly Bill 334 during the 1983 Legislative Session. The Education Committee heard testimony from the who's who of early home schooling, including Dr. Raymond Moore, who testified at length.
The bill died in the Senate, but it created such a ruckus that the State Board of Education adopted some "more favorable" regulations (which by today's standards in the US were extremely restrictive), including some rules that don’t apply to public school students such as the requirement to submit to yearly testing and to show a year’s progress in a year’s time. There would be no access for home-schooled children to programs or benefits for public school students, even though these taxpaying parents paid for their child’s public school education.
Since that time, I served four terms as a Nevada assemblywoman and helped home-school families fight the education monopoly and try to remove the obstacles in the law. When I ran for Congress last year, I had to give up my Assembly seat, but I had the ability to request 10 bills before I left office that would be taken up in this year’s session.
I decided to finish what I began 24 years ago with bill draft request 738, which under the shepherding of Sen. Maurice Washington became Senate Bill 404 a model Home School Freedom law in the United States. Because of the efforts of Frank Schnorbus, Barbara Dragon, the Nevada Home school Network, Nevada Home Educators of Faith and numerous home-schooling parents, the bill passed.
The restrictions and obstacles to freedom in home schooling have now been removed, bringing Nevada law into agreement with both God and the Constitution of the United States parents are responsible for the education of their children.
Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle is the chairman of the Third Tuesday Coalition and a policy fellow of the Nevada Policy Research Institute.