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September 27, 2004

Breakthrough for Homeschoolers Seeking Admission to New York Colleges!

Summary:
Due to your persistent phone calls and the teamwork of Home School Legal Defense Association and Loving Education at Home (LEAH), significant progress has been made to end the discrimination against homeschoolers seeking admission to New York colleges! The breakthrough has come in the form of new rules regarding college admission for homeschoolers which were adopted this month.

For the last 2 years, homeschool students have been discriminated against when attempting to be admitted and graduating from New York colleges and universities. A memo from the State Education Department revived a requirement that all college students must have a recognized high school diploma. In the case of homeschoolers this would mean gaining a GED; an exam designed for high school dropouts.

HSLDA and LEAH worked quickly to develop a three pronged approach to change this situation. First, we filed a lawsuit for those homeschool students who were already in college and being denied the ability to graduate. This lawsuit put significant pressure on the Board of Regents to end the discrimination.

Second, we drafted and introduced legislation designed to provide alternatives to homeschool graduates interested in attending college in New York. The bill, SB 6849 passed the Senate and was introduced in the Assembly, which also increased the pressure on the Board of Regents to fix the problem.

The final prong in the defense involved a grassroots effort to educate and inform the Board of Regents of the problems that homeschool students have been facing and convincing them to change the current policy.

After receiving thousands of calls and letters the Board of Regents heard the need for change and voted in favor of amending the Board of Regents Rule 3.47 in their September 2004 meeting.

These changes will enable a homeschool student to be treated as any other applicant seeking admission to a community college or university in New York. The rules have been changed to provide several different options for homeschool students to demonstrate satisfactory evidence of their preliminary (high school) education.

No more discriminatory barriers for homeschoolers seeking admission. They only need to meet the same SAT or ACT scores and eligibility requirements as other students to gain entrance to college.

Status:
On September 9 and 10, 2004 the Board of Regents met and voted in favor of amending Rule 3.47. These amendments create several options for a homeschool student seeking admission in a college or university in New York.

HSLDA has been in contact with the chairman of the Board of Regents and the State Education Department throughout this process and urged the adoption of these changes.

We will continue to provide input on how these options can be put into effect. The next step is for the Department of Education to publish guidelines for these new rules. We have been promised an opportunity to review the guidelines draft before publication to ensure proper implementation.

Action Requested:

No action is needed

HSLDA's Position:
We support these changes because they eliminate the burden placed on homeschool graduates seeking college admission in New York and create several options to demonstrate completion of high school.

Once a homeschooler enters college they have to meet one of several options to graduate from college:

1) complete the substantial equivalent of a four-year high school course, as certified by the superintendent or other school district official,

2) complete 18 semester hours or the equivalent (such as CLEP credit) in specific subjects (required for nearly ALL students anyway) and 6 more credits in the student's major. No stigma is attached to "earning" a GED in the student's academic record,

3) pass the Regents exams in English, Mathematics, U.S. History and Government, Science and Global History and Geography. This option was included at the request of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), not HSLDA or LEAH. Since the Regents exams are based upon New York state content standards, in order for a homeschool student to pass these exams they would have to study the curriculum found in the public schools,

4) present a previously earned and be granted a degree from an institution accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Dept. of Ed.,

OR

5) pass a GED exam.

For more information on the amendments to Rule 3.47 see http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=1836

In addition, the amended Rule would allow homeschool students to attend the local community college full-time while they are still of compulsory attendance age and have not finished high school. The Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) form would be required to include a statement to this effect and identify the college and the subjects to be covered by that study.

Background:
Beginning in the 2002-03 school year, homeschoolers are experiencing an increase in discrimination due to the implementation of a previously dormant New York State Education Department policy. This policy is preventing colleges from recognizing a 9-12 grade homeschool education as being sufficient to enroll in either a State University of New York or community college.

A private diploma issued by the parent, which millions of homeschool students across the U.S. receive, is not recognized by the state of New York. The Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education issued a policy statement October 2002 saying a homeschooler must produce either a GED, a letter from their school district recognizing the legitimacy of their academic program, or they must enroll in a special GED program that requires completion of 24 specific credit hours in college.

Homeschoolers often do not want to obtain a GED since it carries the stigma of a dropout. Homeschoolers are not dropouts; they are completing a full high school education. In addition, most school districts refuse to provide documentation legitimizing a homeschool education because of the liabilities involved. They will not recognize any homeschool program as sufficient, even if the family has followed the requirements of the law. The "special" GED option is difficult for many homeschool students who do not want to take all of the 24 credit hours required. This makes it difficult for them to complete their majors in fields other than those covered by the 24 credit hours.

Homeschoolers are also facing colleges who refuse to grant them financial aid, even though they are eligible. Although there are some state-specific grants and financial aid monies available governed by state law, many of these colleges are violating the federal Higher Education Act, which clearly states that any student who "has completed a high school education in a homeschool setting" is eligible for federal financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education allows for homeschoolers to self-certify their homeschool diplomas. Colleges should ask no further questions and place no additional obstacles before homeschoolers seeking financial aid.

The Home School Legal Defense Association has represented many homeschool graduates who are refused entry into state colleges. All studies completed at this point show that homeschoolers generally score above average on standardized achievement tests at both elementary and secondary levels. Furthermore, studies completed at universities show that homeschool graduates have higher grade point averages than graduates from traditional schools. This demonstrates only one thing: homeschooling works.

HSLDA recently filed suit against the state in Owens v. Parrinello to help those homeschoolers who are already admitted into college. This case involves Paul Owens, a homeschool graduate attending Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, who was notified recently that his admission to the Marketing program had been revoked because he had been homeschooled.

We are working with New York's Loving Education At Home (LEAH) at three levels:

1) Litigation:HSLDA filed the Owens case in federal court to end discrimination against homeschoolers already in college. For more information, see http://www.hslda.org/Legal/state/ny/20031001Owens/200310010.asp

2) Legislation: HSLDA drafted legislation which was recently introduced as Senate Bill 6849 by Senator LaValle to change this discriminatory policy. For more information on this bill, see http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/ny/2004/NYSB6849AB1153/default.asp

3) Convince the Board of Regents by grassroots pressure to voluntarily change their regulations and write up new favorable regulations patterned after Senator LaValle's bill. We have communicated with the State Education Department to inform them of the current discrimination against homeschoolers. They had made promises to include our changes in their proposal to the Board of Regents to end the discrimination but did not.

Your calls showed the Board of Regents of the immediate need to end the discrimination against homeschoolers. Thanks for standing with us for freedom!

 Other Resources

Sep-27-2004 — Breakthrough for Homeschoolers Seeking Admission to New York Colleges

Apr-08-2004 — More Calls Needed to Board of Regents!

Testimony and Recommended Homeschool Amendments Regarding College Admission   (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Senate Bill 6094: Ends State College Discrimination of Homeschoolers

Board of Regents

Bill Text

Bill History