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House Bill 1182: Threatening Changes to Homeschool Law
At the request of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
On December 30, 2002, the House Education Committee of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly introduced a bill at the request of the Superintendent of Public Instruction which would effectively destroy home education in North Dakota. This is not an exaggeration.
Designated as House Bill 1182, this bill would have required homeschool students to meet the state content and achievement standards on state tests required of public school students in mathematics, reading and science. Since the state standards are derived from the public school curriculum, parents conducting home instruction will be forced to use public school textbooks in order to teach the same content on which their children will be tested. Home education in North Dakota would have essentially become public school at home.
House Bill 1182 was introduced on January 7, 2003. The North Dakota House Education Committee voted unanimously to defeat House Bill 1182 January 15, 2003. The Committee voted 14-0 to give a "do not pass" recommendation on the bill. On January 30, 2003, the entire House voted against the bill 87-2. The bill is now dead.
We opposed House Bill 1182 because it would have:
- eliminate standardized achievement testing of home education students and instead require the same state tests given to public school students;
- require home education students to achieve a test score meeting the state's content standards in all subjects tested (currently reading and mathematics, with science to be added by the 2007-08 school year);
- prohibit parents from administering state tests to their own children, even if the parent has all of the professional qualifications required of test administrators;
- require state testing in grades 4, 8, and 12 under current law and if the law for testing public school students is changed to comply with federal law as expected, require testing every year in grades 3 through 8 and one year in grades 10 through 12 by the 2005-06 school year.
HSLDA attorney Dewitt Black testified before the House Education Committee pointing out that there were two reasons why we opposed this bill. First, it was a direct violation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which would have placed North Dakota in jeopardy of losing all federal funding for education. Last year, HSLDA successfully lobbied Congress to add a provision that prohibited states from mandating homeschoolers take the state assessments.
Second, this legislation was unconstitutional because it is fundamentally unfair for the state to test students on course content they have not been taught. H.B. 1182 would have effectively eliminated the right of parents in North Dakota to direct the education of their children.
This victory in the House Education Committee would not have been possible without the support of North Dakota homeschooling families, many of whom attended the Committee meeting. The hearing room was packed to overflowing with more than 250 homeschoolers. We also thank all of you who called and wrote your legislators opposing the bill.
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