It Worked For Me: THSC Capitol Days

THSC Capitol Days
Submitted by Kari Vanhoozer

Capitol Days is not a GWCHE event, but sponsored by the Texas Home School Coalition, every two years when the Legislature is in session. After this year, the next event will be 2017. Discounts are available for THSC members and groups registering together, even if no one is a THSC member. Registration and information is available online.

Through lecture, demonstration, and role playing you will learn how a bill becomes a law, about current legislation affecting families and homeschoolers, and how to lobby by visiting legislators or their staff, to whom then you will explain the current bill and hand them a folder prepared by THSC. You will also visit your own representatives and senator. This is a great time to be around like-minded people and for my children to see the half a dozen “Watchmen”, who are young, sober, humble, witty, quick-minded young men reading bills and watching for any legislation that would affect families and homeschoolers and then lobbying on our behalf.

Whole families are welcome. During the 2013 May event, I did not see anyone under five years old. Those in attendance were limited to 350 people and varied from first time attendees to experienced families. Many families included fathers.

Capitol Days occurs only on odd years during the Texas Legislative session, usually the first Wednesday or Thursday of the first week of the spring months. You can attend one or all of the sessions, which are complete events and do not build on each other.  Capitol Days takes place in Austin, TX at the State Capitol.

Homeschooling has not always been legal in Texas. People before us have followed the political system to legalize and guard homeschooling. This is a good time to return the effort to protect homeschooling in Texas. It also is a good time to show a spirit of appreciation to our local representatives. Lastly, the program and participation teaches good citizenship, one of the required homeschool subjects by law.

The cost (paid at least three weeks in advance) is between $17-25 per person attending, including children, depending on group rate and membership to the Texas Home School Coalition. Hotels offer group rates for overnight stays. From Waco this can be a day trip, though plan for an early start and add 30 minutes to your estimated time of arrival due to Austin-bound traffic. The event starts at 9am and ends after 3pm. No snacks are provided so if you need one bring your own or pop over to the cafeteria. For lunch at noon, bring your own or eat in the Capitol Grille cafeteria (plan on $7/person) in the same building as the auditorium. We did not have time to leave the building. The lunch needs to be fast and is also a time for organizing who will say what among your team. Your team will have about 10 people on it and may include people that you will be meeting for the first time. Plan on $8 parking in the Capitol Visitor parking garage 12th and San Jacinto.

A week before the event you will be emailed information about parking. You will also receive an email about the current legislation about which you will learn and lobby. The THC has a worthwhile video about the legal history of homeschooling in Texas.

One GWCHE member writes, “We found it beneficial to research the bills ahead of time. Information is on their web site, but it’s also a good exercise to research what the OTHER side is going to say! We had a lot of information online and it was a good exercise in learning people’s political views and why, as well as then discussing as a family what our particular point of view was.”

Questions? Ask some past attendees: The Ewings, The Rohrers, The Gilmers, or The Vanhoozers. Or visit the THSC website to learn more about this year’s events.