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New York

September 27, 2004

Senate Bill 6094: Ends State College Discrimination of Homeschoolers

Author:
Introduced by Senator Robach

Summary:
Senate Bill 6094 would apply to any college recognized or approved by the Regents or the University of New York. This bill would only require a homeschool student to provide a transcript and a diploma to self-certify completion of a high school education in a homeschool setting. No homeschool student would be required to obtain a GED certificate to be admitted to a New York state college.

Status:
This bill was introduced on February 6, 2004, and was sent to the Higher Education Committee. This bill was substituted for Senate Bill 6849.

HSLDA's Position:
This bill should be supported.

Action Requested:
No action required at this time.

Reasons We Support This Legislation:
Senate Bill 6094 would have:

1) prohibited the Commissioner from requiring pupils who have completed the requirements of a home school education or a non-public school program to obtain or submit proof of having obtained a general education development (GED) certificate or any accredited diploma; and

2) required that the Regents evaluate and consider all applicants from a home school educational or a non-public school program in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner

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 helped draft legislation which was recently introduced as Senate Bill 6094 by Senator Robach to change this discriminatory policy. For more information on this bill, see http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/ny/2004/NYSB6094/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 Robach's bill. We have communicated with the State Education Department to inform them of the current discrimination against homeschoolers. They made promises to include our changes in their proposal to the Board of Regents to end the discrimination but did not.

 Other Resources

May-07-2004 — Reminder: We Need You at the Rally for Homeschool Freedom in Albany!

May-05-2004 — We Need You at the Rally for Homeschool Freedom in Albany!

Mar-17-2004 — Calls Needed to Senate to Stop Discrimination Against College Bound Homeschoolers!

Mar-11-2004 — Help Stop State College Discrimination of Homeschool Students!

Owens Case

Board of Regents Draft Regulation

Bill Text

Bill History

6849 Bill Text

6849 Bill History