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Brewer, proponents tout home schooling at State Capitol event

Amie Oetter said she teaches her two sons, ages 10 and 12, more than the education staples of math, science and reading.

For example, Oetter has been teaching them Greek, Latin and Spanish since they were each in first grade, she said.

“Home schooling gives the opportunity and flexibility to prioritize the things that traditional schools don’t have the resources or mandate to teach,” Oetter said.

She and dozens of others descended on the statehouse Tuesday for Homeschool Day, at which Gov. Jan Brewer and several lawmakers told the group it’s important that parents have the ability to home-school their children.

“I have always supported school choice because I have always supported a parent’s choice to determine what their children need,” Brewer said.

Colene Lewis, former president of Arizona Families for Homeschool Education, said the day provided lawmakers with the opportunity to put a face on their community of families.

“It was a great way to expose the kids to the Capitol and government,” she said.

Lewis taught all three of her daughters until they went to Arizona State University. Bethany, one of Lewis’s daughters, wrote a law that makes home-schooled students eligible for public university scholarships based on their SAT and ACT scores rather than class rank.

“Home schooling is important because children should be raised by parents, and that includes their education,” Lewis said. “We provided what they needed in terms of relationships and family ties.”

Sen. John Huppenthal is sponsoring a bill that would require Arizona colleges and universities to make the criteria for merit-based scholarships easily accessible to all applicants regardless of whether they were home-schooled or attended public, private or charter schools.

S1280 was retained March 2 on calendar of the Senate Committee of the Whole.

Carol Shippy, president and legislative liaison of Arizona Families for Home Education, said parents take on their children’s education as their own responsibility and should have equal access to all merit scholarships.

“SB 1280 is trying to address that parents are not finding that information on scholarships and that it is not very accessible,” she said. “We want them to establish a criteria for scholarships and establish transparency to see how many of their students are getting scholarships.”

Greg Fahey, the University of Arizona’s associate vice president for government relations, registered as neutral on the bill before the Senate Committee on Education Accountability and Reform. He said the criteria for merit scholarships varies from year to year with the money that’s available.

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