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New Hampshire

February 19, 2007

Senate Bill 18-FN: Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age from 16 to 18

Sponsors:
Senators Iris W. Estabrook, David M. Gottesman, John T. Gallus, Bob Odell, Joseph A. Foster, Molly M. Kelly, Martha Fuller Clark, Margaret W. Hassan, Lou D'Allesandro, Sylvia B. Larsen, and Representatives Emma L. Rous, J. Timothy Dunn, William J. Remick

Summary:
Senate Bill 18-FN would increase the control of the state over your children for another two years by raising the age of compulsory attendance from 16 to 18 years of age. It exempts from compulsory attendance those who have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent, including a GED and a letter or certificate documenting completion of a home education program at the high school level. While the bill, if passed with the amendment, would allow homeschoolers in New Hampshire to certify high school completion prior to age 18, we are recommending that members contact their representatives and ask them to reject the bill in its entirety, as it gives the State additional control over children.

Status:

1/4/2007(Senate) Introduced and referred to Education Committee
2/20/2007(Senate) Hearing, State House, Room 103, 8:30 a.m.
3/8/2007(Senate) Committee Report: ought to pass with amendment
3/15/2007(Senate) Committee Amendment, amendment adopted, voice vote
3/15/2007(Senate) Ought to pass with amendment, motion adopted; ordered to 3rd reading
3/15/2007(Senate) Passed 3rd reading
3/28/2007(House) Introduced and referred to Education Committee
4/18/2007(House) Public Hearing, 10 a.m., Legislative Office Building 205-207
5/2/2007(House) Full Committee Work Session, 1 p.m., Legislative Office Building 207
5/8/2007(House) Executive Session, 11:15 a.m., Legislative Office Building 207
5/10/2007(House) Majority Committee Report: Ought to Pass for May 16 (Vote 12-6; Roll Call)
5/10/2007(House) Minority Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate
5/16/2007(House) Floor Amendments Failed
5/16/2007(House) Ought to Pass: Motion Adopted, Roll Call 183-170
5/16/2007(House) Reconsideration (Rep D. Eaton): Motion Failed, Roll Call 150-193
5/16/2007(House) Referred to Finance Committee
5/22/2007(House) Division II work session, 1 p.m., Legislative Office Building
5/23/2007(House) Division II work session, 1 p.m., Legislative Office Building
5/24/2007(House) Division II Work Session, 10 a.m., Legislative Office Building
5/29/2007(House) Executive Session, 10 a.m., Legislative Office Building
5/30/2007(House) Majority Committee Report: Ought to Pass for June 6 (Vote 13-12, Roll Call)
5/30/2007(House) Minority Committee Report: Ought to Pass with Amendment
5/30/2007(House) Propose Minority Committee Amendment
5/30/2007(House) Minority Committee Amendment Failed, Roll Call 155-201
6/6/2007(House) Floor Amendment Failed, Roll Call 150-207
6/6/2007(House) Ought to Pass: Motion Adopted, Roll Call 201-156
6/13/2007(House) Enrolled
6/14/2007(Senate) Enrolled
6/26/2007(House) Signed by the Governor; Effective date July 1, 2009

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.

This is another attempt to impose increasing government control over children and to further restrict parents’ rights to direct the upbringing and education of their children. These are rights that have been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as fundamental constitutional rights.

This bill subjects homeschooling (and all) students to compulsory attendance laws for two more years. Many homeschool families graduate their children from homeschool programs to enroll them in college or apprenticeship programs. Today, parents have the authority to determine whether their children continue in formal secondary education after the age of 16—this right must be preserved.

In fact, current law already requires parental approval prior to a student discontinuing high school. The proposed law takes away a parent’s right to approve their children’s alternative educational plans and requires that a parent obtain approval from the local school district superintendent.

Action Requested:
None.

Background:

1. Statistics show that raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion rates, Maryland at 94.5% and North Dakota at 94.7%, compel attendance only to age 16. The state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon: 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three year averages, 1996 through 1998.)

2. Twenty-nine states require attendance only to age 16. Older children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.

3. Even with the exemption language, passing this bill would restrict parents’ freedom to decide if their 16-year-old is ready for college or the workforce. (Some 16-year-olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.)

4. Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age is an inevitable tax burden to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California raised the age of compulsory attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the taxpayer.

5. A study by Cornell University on raising the age of compulsory attendance found that there was no correlation between passing a law to raise the age of compulsory attendance and high school completion rates. The study shows that specific programs targeted at at risk youth can help improve completion rates, but a law raising the age of attendance does not. To read the report click here.

 Other Resources

February-2-2007—Calls Needed To Stop Compulsory Attendance Age Increase to 18

February-12-2007—New Hampshire—Calls Needed to Stop Expanding State Control Over Homeschools

March-20-2007—New Hampshire—Calls Needed to Stop Expansion of State Control Over Homeschools!

April-4-2007—New Hampshire—Calls Needed to Stop Expansion of State Control Over Homeschools!

April-17-2007—New Hampshire—More Calls Needed to Resist State Control Over Homeschools!

May-14-2007—New Hampshire—More Calls Needed to Resist State Control Over Homeschools!

May-23-2007—New Hampshire—More Calls Needed to Defend Parents from Governmental Intrusion

June-5-2007—New Hampshire—Final Vote is Tomorrow on S.B. 18

June-8-2007—New Hampshire—Clarifying S.B. 18

June-11-2007—New Hampshire—S.B.18 Update--Not Effective Until July 1, 2009

Bill Text

Bill History