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New York

May 17, 2005

Senate Bill 4215: Homeschool Fair Practices Bill

Author:
Senator Robach

Summary:

This bill would prohibit the Commissioner of Education from requiring a homeschool graduate to obtain a GED or an accredited diploma for admission into any institution of higher education recognized and approved by the Board of Regents.

While the recent Board of Regent rule change no longer limits admissions, some colleges still urge homeschoolers to seek a GED. This bill would enable a homeschool graduate to submit a notarized transcript to demonstrate their completion of a homeschool high school program and be accepted on an equal basis with all other college applicants.

Status:

04/12/2005Referred to the Senate Committee on Higher Education
05/25/20051st Report Cal. 1315
05/31/20052nd Report Cal.
06/01/2005Advanced to third reading.
06/24/2005Committed to Rules Committee.
06/24/2005Senate adjourned and is at the call of the Majority Leader. (Likely closed for the rest of the year).

Since this bill was not reported from a standing committee, the Committee on Rules, it will be reintroduced in January, 2006.

HSLDA's Position:
This bill is supported.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

Background:
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 new Board of Regent Rule 3.47 enables a homeschooler to be able to graduate from an institution of higher education in New York if they meet one of these options:

  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 and 6 more credits in the student's major. No stigma is attached to "earning" a GED in the student's academic record as a student is not required to apply for or receive the "super" GED,

  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.

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. The "special" GED option may be difficult for those 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.

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