Homeschool associations in Kansas and Missouri are preparing for a day at the state capitol where families can meet lawmakers and celebrate their educational freedoms.
The Christian Home Education Coalition of Kansas (CHECK) is planning its Homeschool Capitol Day on Feb. 2 in Topeka.
Missouri’s Families for Home Education (FHE) is planning its Homeschool Day at the Capitol on March 7 in Jefferson City.
“We want you to come and interact with your legislators,” said Jennifer Laporte, chair of CHECK. “And we realize that you’re a busy homeschooling family, so we want this to be a time for you to also do plenty of learning while you’re there.”
‘Keep homeschools thriving’
Laporte encouraged homeschool families to organize virtual meetings with legislators when the Capitol Day was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in-person events can provide more opportunities to interact with lawmakers, she said.
“Building positive relationships with our state legislators will help keep homeschools thriving in our state,” she said. “And coming to the Capitol is one of the most effective ways of building that positive relationship.”
During the 1980s, homeschool parents faced an uphill battle convincing the state of Kansas to recognize their rights to educate their children at home.
Today, however, families can legally homeschool by registering their non-accredited private schools through the Kansas State Department of Education.
Scheduling, opportunities for the day
Both associations encourage parents to plan for parking and entrance into the Capitol in advance, including time to go through security procedures.
“This is a great field trip day,” writes FHE on its website. “Meet your legislators (make an appointment with them in advance).”
Homeschoolers can also use this opportunity to visit local museums, take a state constitution book from the Secretary of State’s office, and tour the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, FHE said.
This year’s Day at the Missouri Capitol marks the association’s 40th anniversary, featuring contests and a music show by a KC-area homeschool band.
“Help FHE celebrate 40 years of fighting for homeschool freedoms in Missouri,” its website says. “We know many come from a distance and appreciate the sacrifice to give of your day to come.”
When meeting with legislators, families can present their own thank-you cards or, for those visiting in Topeka, use cards that CHECK will provide at the event, Laporte said.
CHECK is also bringing cookies from a bakery owned by a homeschooling family. Families can give those cookies to legislators as a sign of their appreciation, Laporte said, adding the treats vanished quickly last year.
“What I learned is that I needed to order extra because all of the kids who helped pass out cookies wanted a cookie, which is very reasonable to expect,” she said. “I don’t want to be in that situation again.”