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Vol. XXIV
No. 3
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May/June
2008

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Time to Stop Tinkering

Senator Iris Estabrook, now chair of the New Hampshire State Senate Education Committee, wants to tinker with New Hampshire homeschool law and increase regulation. Her bill, Senate Bill 337, began as very problematic and morphed into a somewhat less problematic—but still troublesome—piece of legislation during the legislative season. S.B. 337 would undo changes passed by the legislature in 2006 that made it easier for families to begin homeschooling. Senator Estabrook wants to impose a deadline for filing and to require parents to submit curriculum plans with their initial homeschool notification.

Homeschoolers argued in 2006 that New Hampshire’s interest in the education of children is addressed by the law’s already existing assessment provisions and that it is unnecessary for homeschooling families to submit curriculum outlines, which are irrelevant to the process. State legislators agreed and removed this requirement in the 2006 legislation known as House Bill 406.

While presiding over her own bill (a questionable practice), Senator Estabrook is reported to have said that she knows homeschoolers are doing a good job, and that this is precisely why additional regulation is needed. Senator Estabrook also noted that she intended to amend the bill, but would not share those proposed amendments with the public.

S.B. 337 has now passed on to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and a hearing is scheduled for April 2, 2008 (as this Court Report goes to print). Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly will testify in opposition to the bill.

— by Michael P. Donnelly