Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency

Foreword by Raymond S. Moore

As some educators are finding -- and fearing -- home education has become big business, and San Diego educator David Gamble says it "is in big trouble," as a plethora of advisors rises to hawk ideas or "gimmicks," usually in quest of a profit. Most of these operate with little basis in research or sound practice, and are largely indifferent to legislatures or courts. Few of them were around to share the heavy work and the risks of the early, unpopular days of the movement. Yet there are authentic heroes, pearls out of the rubble, who are refreshing and inspiring proof that there is another kind of entrepreneur. We've watched and worked with them in fifty states as they sacrificed time and money to preserve the principle of freedom. Yet this is the first systematic published account we have seen, and it's special!

Here we learn in fascinating fashion that whether in curriculum, method or legal defense, it is time that we listen more closely one to another and try to understand each other, regardless of race, color or creed. Let's face it, none of us knows enough to ignore the wisdom of our sisters and brothers. In The Story of a Bill we have one of the finest examples of coalition, coordination and persistence we have seen in more than 40 years of home education. It is the only story of legislation to our knowledge set down in attractive and lucid form, so that less experienced in other states might profit.

We, like James Dobson, rarely endorse a book. It involves too many risks these days. We are able to read only a few of many sent for our review. Most are more ambitious than accurate, and less practical than dull. But here we have a joining of a Christian businessman and a Jewish teacher in a team which skillfully and selflessly coalesces a rainbow spectrum of personalities, occupations and creeds into a team whose principled political effort amazes even the hardened press.

Howard Richman takes you from their first approaches to the Pennsylvania Legislature, through highs and lows of state school official harassment, political intrigue and finally, adulation. You watch in awe as the drama unfolds and witness bold and truth-filled laymen standing toe-to-toe with educational power brokers, some of them sincere but ill-informed and others but educational shysters. Then comes the dessert when home taught children witness brilliantly before legislative committees and share substantial credit for influencing change.

Yet Richman, himself a Ph.D. and public school teacher, is careful to be the gentleman in dealing with the opposition, ever bearing in mind that the few hostile pedagogues and education association officials do not genuinely represent the profession. Note, for example, how he handles Donna, the Commissioner for Basic Education, when she derogates a family who "uses" a child to "nurse" an ill family member -- as if that were a violation of good educational practice. Howard gently reminds her of home-taught Clara Barton who as a child performed precisely the same loving service -- the Clara who later founded the American Red Cross.

Dr. Richman gives credit where credit is due among lawmakers, beginning with Representative Pitts. Yet he also lays it on the line when an occasional legislator, either uninformed or guarding vested interests of the educational associations, tries a variety of sneak plays, trying to amend here and there, yet unable to trick the sharp-eyed home educators and their strong supporters.

After nearly five long years, this symphony of unity, courage, common sense and prayer adds up to one of the most fantastic results ever seen in a legislative forum -- a favorable vote of 49 to 0 in the Pennsylvania Senate and 194 to 0 in the House on an issue foreign, even hostile, to most legislators several years ago. And to cap it all, the senators turned facing the gallery of parents and kids to give them a standing ovation!

What an example for every state and nation! This is an inspiring account for all home teachers -- and their children -- and other parents and educators, too, far beyond Pennsylvania's boundaries. Over the past fifteen to twenty years, I have shared legislative efforts in nearly all the states and I have met these pearls in state houses, before judges and in jail. But this story brings them all together for what they really are. <

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