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Committee passes bill unanimously

Legislative Document 160 could be the biggest improvement in Maine homeschool law in 20 years. On February 20, the joint Education and Cultural Affairs Committee voted unanimously "ought to pass as amended" on L.D.160. If approved by the House and the Senate, the bill would eliminate a majority of the red tape that entangles homeschool families every fall and would remove the State Commissioner of Education's power to approve homeschooling, thus eliminating the legal limbo sometimes encountered while waiting for the commissioner to act.

The measure would require a one-time notice that would include the name of the parent and child, signature and address of parent, age of child, date home instruction will begin, and assurance that 175 days of instruction will be provided and that the required subjects will be taught. Thereafter, the family would file a letter by September 1 informing the commissioner and local superintendent whether they intend to continue homeschooling and provide an assessment.

Requirements that might arguably have made sense 20 years ago when the current homeschool regulations were adopted are out-of-date, unnecessary, or even overly burdensome now.

A huge thank you goes to Senator Carol Weston for her incredibly effective work on this bill. Because the committee voted unanimously for L.D. 160, it will go to the House and Senate floors for a vote "under the hammer," greatly reducing the chance for debate or amendment and greatly enhancing its chance of passage.

There is still work to be done, however. Home educators need to join together to bring Maine homeschool law up-to-date and remove unnecessary restrictions as we work to obtain final passage in the House and Senate, and then the governor's signature.

Scott A. Woodruff