The Home School Court Report
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May / June 2003

A season to encourage

Burnt toast & sticky cards

A letter to my parents

The spiritual power of a mother
National Center hosts 2003 Summit
Farris addresses social workers

Along the way

Homeschool litigation: preparing the way
Freedom Watch

What's ahead in 2003?
From the heart
Across the states
Active Cases
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Good judges make good decisions


Prayer & Praise

a contrario sensu (on the other hand)

HSLDA legal contacts for November/December 2002



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Bills defeated

On February 12, 2003, the Montana Senate Education Committee voted 9-1 to "postpone indefinitely" Senate Bill 276 which would have required county superintendents to "administer the state assessment requirements as adopted by the board of public education to non-public and home school students."

This victory would not have been possible without the support of many Montana homeschooling families, many of whom attended the committee meeting at the state capitol on February 10, 2003. The hearing room was packed to overflowing with almost 500 homeschoolers and representatives of nonpublic schools. Only one person, the bill's sponsor, spoke in favor of the bill, whereas over 50 people testified against it. Each committee member received an average of 300 letters in opposition to this bill.

Home School Legal Defense Association Attorney Dewitt Black testified before the committee, pointing out that there were three reasons why we opposed this bill. First, it would result in a violation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which would have placed Montana in jeopardy of losing all federal funding for education. Last year, HSLDA successfully lobbied Congress to add a provision that prohibited states from mandating that homeschoolers take the state assessments. Second, this legislation was unconstitutional because it is fundamentally unfair for the state to test students on course content they have not been taught. S.B. 276 would have effectively eliminated the right of parents in Montana to direct the education of their children by requiring them to teach the public school curriculum. Third, after 20 years of homeschooling under Montana's current law, there was no reason to begin to impose state testing on homeschool students.

Home educators in Montana gained an earlier victory on January 27, 2003, when the Montana House Education Committee voted to table House Bill 274 which would have raised the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18. Several home educators, including Steve White of the Montana Coalition of Home Educators, testified against this bill and were instrumental in bringing about its defeat. Had this legislation been enacted, it would have expanded the state's oversight of homeschooling by an additional two years. This victory would not have been possible without the support of the many Montana families who contacted the committee to voice their opposition.

Dewitt T. Black