One of the most effective ways to participate in making sure that homeschooling remains a legal option in California is for homeschoolers to visit their own legislators. We are told by people who have worked on legislative matters for a long time that legislators really like to have a face to associate with a cause. Giving your legislators a family to think of when they think about homeschooling will help when the time for a vote on homeschooling comes up.
Many legislators are aware of the stereotype that holds that all homeschooling families are religious conservatives. Most Republicans, who count religious conservatives among their best supporters, in turn, support homeschooling. If you live in the district of a Republican, by all means, go and thank them for their support. But if you are not conservative and are not homeschooling primarily for religious reasons, whether you live in a Republican district or that of a Democrat, your visit is even more important. All legislators need to know this part of the homeschooling population exists. That's especially true of the Democrats, who might wrongly believe that their core constituents don't care about homeschooling.
The best time to visit is before there is a crisis, and not during the time they are working on the budget in late summer. The start of the traditional school year is probably a good time (after the end of the budget work). Feel free at any time to write to the legislative team (email us here) and ask whether it's a good time or bad time to try to visit.
You are represented in the Assembly by an Assemblymember, and in the Senate by a Senator. To find yours, go tohttp://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html and enter your zip code. It will bring up the list of people who represent you, and clicking on their names will take you to their home pages, where you can find out their political affiliation, the committees on which they serve, and the like.
If you want to visit them in Sacramento, you would need to get an appointment first. Getting appointments with the legislators themselves is pretty hard, as they are often in committee meetings. But all legislators have aides, and one of them will be in charge of helping the legislator with education matters. Whoever answers the phone at the office will tell you who the aide in charge of K-12 education matters is. Meetings with those aides are also very valuable, as the aides can often take more time to listen to you and have their own questions answered.
But it's not that hard to meet with your actual legislator, and you don't have to go to Sacramento. Most of them go to their district offices on Fridays, and you can call the district office to ask for an appointment. Tell them that you are a homeschooler who wishes to discuss homeschooling with them.
It can be very effective to go in small groups with homeschooling friends, but we don't recommend large groups. Taking children is beneficial if you think they can behave well enough and will respond politely if asked a question. Keep it very professional. We recommend that you tell them why you homeschool, why a standard school didn't work for you. They need to hear that this is an option that needs to be preserved. They also need to know that homeschooling is NOT a partisan issue -- that many liberals and progressives teach their children at home and expect their representatives to help support their choice. It's also a good idea to ask them if they have any questions about homeschooling that you could answer.
You don't need to take anything with you when you meet with your legislators, but we do have handouts available as pdf files that you could print. If you want to know what handouts are being used at the time of your visit, please write to the legislative team (send them an email here). We will send you what we're currently using and will let you know if there are any non-routine issues affecting homeschooling right then that you should address during your meeting.
Please do let the legislative team know about how your meeting went. We keep track of legislators' responses to homeschoolers, and all input is valuable. If you are concerned about what you hear and think they need additional attention, either from other homeschooling families or from the legislative team, let us know that, too.
Thanks for your contributions. They do make a significant difference.