Every other year the Texas legislature meets for 140 days to adopt a budget and consider thousands of bills that are filed, with the hope of changing or adopting new laws. Homeschool students and their parents have a wonderful opportunity to learn about civics (the study of government) during this time in what the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) calls “Capitol Days.”
THSC began Capitol Days many years ago when we realized that there was a great need to help students and their parents to have a hands-on learning experience to aid in understanding how the Texas legislature works and how our laws are made. So, in one sense Capitol Days is a great civics field trip to the Texas state Capitol.
Of course, another issue is that home schoolers are very often the target of bills that, if enacted into law, would erode the freedom that parents in Texas have to teach their children at home. In fact, we have already seen some of those bills filed this session, and there has been discussion of several others. Therefore, in addition to teaching home schoolers how laws are made, we show them how they can work as citizen lobbyists against such measures, and Capitol Days are a vehicle that parents and students can use to protect our freedom to homeschool by lobbying against these bills.
Finally, THSC Capitol Days are public relations events for home schooling. I always tell homeschool students who are about to go lobby for or against bills that in some offices they will be the first live home schoolers that the people they are talking to have ever met. In these situations, these young, articulate homeschool students and their parents have a golden opportunity to help these staffers learn about home schooling. Very often this encounter is as important, if not more so, than the legislation on which we are working.
At almost every one of these events, we have students and parents walk away amazed that with a little bit of information and action they have made an impact on their government. The experience for some of these students is the door that opens for them a future in the legislative process, and for hundreds of others it is the revelation that they can influence legislation as citizen lobbyists. I hope you will join us for one of these amazing events.