Current Issues in Georgia : New Drivers License Hurdles for Homeschoolers in Georgia
on 2005/7/7 2:20:00 (18464 reads)

Georgia students, including homeschoolers, are no longer allowed to drive if they don't remain in school until they're 18. Because of the universal desire and often the genuine need among students to drive, this new law has effectively raised Georgia's compulsory attendance age to 18 and revoked important parental rights.

The drivers license carrot that is being dangled before students who have passed compulsory attendance age in Georgia isn't about driving safety. It is about increasing attendance and reducing dropout rates. States are being measured according to the dictates of No Child Left Behind, and Georgia doesn't want to stack up as not doing well when compared to the other states. That means (among other things) that the government has felt the need to come up with strategies that keep kids in school more consistently over a longer period of time. The drivers license provision is one piece of a large picture that includes implementation of lots of draconian measures to achieve this, most of which have no effect on those of us whose kids don't attend conventional schools.

The snag for the homeschoolers of Georgia came about when Governor Perdue refused to compromise on deleting the provision that once allowed parents to give permission for their child to leave school prior to his/her eighteenth birthday. Had that provision remained in the law, parents would still be allowed to implement whatever measures THEY deemed best for their own children in regard to staying in school beyond compulsory attendance age. If a child most needed to be apprenticed after he became 16, the parent could give permission for the child to pursue that course (without the child's driving privileges being revoked). If a child needed to spend a year on the mission field to help get his head on straight about what to do after secondary schooling, the parent was able to give permission for that. If a child needed to work to help support his family and needed to take some time off from unsuccessful academic pursuits to learn how difficult it is to earn good money without a proper education, parents could decide that. Parents can still make those decisions for their children, but the state now punishes their children for their doing so by refusing them the privilege of driving. "Feel free to get a job, but don't expect to be able to drive to work."

Governor Perdue's insistence that the state of Georgia is in a better position to know across the board what's good for our kids than are their own parents was a huge strike against parental rights.

But, as I've said before, it caused barely a ripple in the homeschool community when it happened (2003-04 legislative session in the form of HB 1190), not because we (HEIR folks) weren't alerting people to it, but because he's a friendly Republican governor, and nobody thought he would do anything to damage our homeschool freedoms.

The troubles we're having now are just the fallout of our not insisting on correcting the issue when it came up, and that's the down side of having a government "of the people." The people in question aren't always tuned in (often because they're busy doing things like teaching their kids), and government can rob them of their precious rights while they're otherwise occupied. It's a shame.

As always, it's a good idea to read legislation for yourself, and you can do so directly from the Georgia General Assembly website HB 1190, but you may want to link instead to this pdf copy that has the pertinent sections highlighted. It's a long bill (another pet peave).

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