Since its favorable passage eight days ago by the House Education Committee, HB1652 (the bill to direct the Department of Education to resume recognizing homeschool and church-related school diplomas) has been languishing in the House Calendar & Rules Committee. This Committee is where all bills go when they receive committee approval. Calendar and Rules decides when to schedule floor votes on bills that have been reported out by other committees. The Calendar and Rules Committee (like all the other House committees) is appointed by Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. Here are the members:

Larry Miller, Chair D-Memphis
John Hood, Vice-Chair D-Murfreesboro
Nathan Vaughn, Secretary D-Kingsport
Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, Stratton Bone, D-Lebanon, Rob Briley, D-Nashville, Tommie F. Brown, D-Chattanooga, Frank Buck, D-Dowelltown, Glen Casada, R-Franklin, Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta
Lois Deberry, D-Memphis, John J. DeBerry, Jr., D-Memphis, Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, Ulysses Jones, Jr., D-Memphis, Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, Mark Maddox, D-Dresden, Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroad
Michael McDonald, D-Portland, Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, Gary Odom, D-Nashville, Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, Phillip Pinion, D-Union City, Randy Rinks, D-Savannah, Les Winningham, D-Huntsville

There are 25 members of the committee, 21 Democrats and 4 Republicans. That, unfortunately, might be a fair estimate of the odds of getting HB1652 brought to a vote on the floor. The Democrats control the Tennessee House of Representatives with a 53-46 majority. But, with control and the election of the speaker, they are able to effect such oddities as the stacking of the Calendar and Rules Committee with a 21-4 Democrat majority.

I would STRONGLY urge all homeschooling families to call and email the members of the House Calendar and Rules Committee and respectfully request that they release HB1652 for a vote by the full House of Representatives. You might remind them that the bill is co-sponsored by a Democrat (Rep. Dennis Ferguson) and a Republican (Rep. Mike Bell). There is a good summary of the bill and its history at Kay Brooks’ TNHomeEd site.

For the prospects of the Republicans being able to achieve a majority of the House of Representatives in November 2008, I refer you to this analysis by Steve Gill.

Remember, if this bill does NOT pass, then the Department of Education will have succeeded in invalidating the high school diplomas of thousands of homeschool and church-related school graduates.

For everyone’s convenience, here are the email addresses of all 25 members of the Calendar and Rules Committee: (yawl do know how to do cut & paste, right?),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

– Rob Shearer