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May / June 2005

Nourishing your special needs child

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Amended homeschool bill passes legislature

Homeschooling families in North Dakota did not get all they had asked for in the original version of House Bill 1265, but the amended version passed by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly was still an improvement over prior law. As originally drafted, HB 1265 would have removed the requirement that a homeschooling parent with a high school diploma or GED be monitored for two years by a state-certified teacher. Additionally, HB 1265 would have changed the definition of home education, deleting the requirement that the program be conducted only in the child's home.

At a hearing on January 18, 2005, attended by many homeschooling families, Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Dewitt Black and North Dakota homeschool leaders testified in support of the bill. After the hearing, the House Education Committee voted to preserve the bill's provision permitting parents to homeschool developmentally disabled children. The old law denied this right to parents, except for those whose children suffered from autism. North Dakota was the only state in the nation with such a restrictive law.

However, despite homeschoolers' strong support for removing the state monitoring requirement and changing the definition of home education, these provisions were stricken from the final version of the bill.

North Dakota remains the only state in the nation requiring parents with a high school diploma or GED to be monitored by a state-certified teacher. Forty-one states do not even require homeschooling parents to have a high school diploma or GED. Studies of homeschooling have concluded that there is little statistical difference between the academic performance of children whose parents have not finished high school and those who have a college education. HSLDA will continue to work with the homeschoolers of North Dakota to remove this intrusive and unnecessary monitoring of parents by state-certified teachers.

—by Dewitt T. Black