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September 27, 2004

Senate Bill 6849/Assembly Bill 11538: Ends State College Discrimination of Homeschoolers

Author:
Introduced by Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Tocci

Summary:
Senate Bill 6849/Assembly Bill 11538 would apply to any college recognized or approved by the Regents or the University of New York. If enacted into law, these bills would create another option under New York law that would enable homeschool students to receive a certificate of completion from their local school district verifying that they had completed a homeschool high school program. While parents would need to continue to report to the local school district until completion of their high school program the reporting requirements would actually be less than currently required.

Senate Bill 6849 was originally introduced by Senator LaValle and drafted in a way that would not have been supported by Home School Legal Defense Association or Loving Education at Home. However, due to the hard work of HSLDA attorneys and LEAH, Senator LaValle substantially amended his bill. We support this bill as a step in the right direction towards ending the current discrimination in New York colleges that homeschool students are facing.

Status:

04/15/2004Introduced
06/03/2004Amended and recommitted to the Higher Education Committee
06/10/2004Passed the Senate
06/15/2004introduced in the Assembly as AB 11538

Requested Action:
No action required at this time.

Reasons We Support This Legislation:
Senate Bill 6849/Assembly would:

1) Create an option for parents to have their children receive a letter of compliance and a certificate of completion for high school. A family desiring to follow this option would simply need to submit a notice of intent for each year their child is in high school. While this notice of intent would include the list of subjects to be taught and the textbooks or plan of instruction to be followed for that year, no Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) or quarterly reports would need to be filed. At the end of the year the family would file an annual report with the school district consisting of a transcript, attendance records and a report consisting of the results of a nationally normed standardized achievement test as determined by the parent taken and administered consistent with the test publisher, or the results of the alternative annual assessment, such as a portfolio of the child's work or evaluation by a private or public school teacher indicating the child is progressing according to his ability.

2) Prohibit the Commissioner from requiring pupils who have completed the requirements of a homeschool 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.

Background:
Beginning in the 2002-03 school year, homeschoolers were experiencing an increase in discrimination due to the implementation of a previously dormant New York State Education Department policy. This policy prevents 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. To see 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 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 LaValle's bill. We have communicated with the State Education Department to inform them of the current discrimination against homeschoolers. The Board of Regents recently adopted changes to Rule 3.47 which will make it easier for homeschool students to be admitted and graduate from a college or university in New York.

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