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No. 2

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Bad Legislation Averted

During the 2012 legislative session, Senate Bill 374 was introduced at the request of the Indiana Department of Education and sponsored by Senator Dennis Kruse, a homeschool supporter.

The bill would have required the review of a family’s homeschool curriculum, to address the issues of public school dropouts masquerading as homeschool students and of school employees funneling dropouts to homeschooling.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, there have been numerous reports of public school employees encouraging students to “transfer” to homeschooling instead of dropping out. This helps the numbers for key state and federal benchmarks, since students classified as transfer students—rather than as dropouts—lower the school’s dropout rate and increase its graduation rate. Several school corporations have dramatically turned around their dropout and graduation rates by increasing the number of homeschool withdrawals.

Students find “transferring” convenient also, since under Indiana law, dropouts lose driving privileges.

The bill would have imposed the burdensome requirement of curriculum review on genuine homeschooling families just to weed out these dropout “homeschoolers.” Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) Legislative Liaison Micah Clark and Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt communicated our opposition to S.B. 374, and the bill did not move forward.

Meanwhile, another measure, S.B. 384, originally unrelated to homeschooling, passed the Senate. After S.B. 374 effectively died, House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning added a surprise amendment to S.B. 384 that would have required parents withdrawing a high school student from public school in order to homeschool to submit an educational plan or face revocation of their child’s driver’s license. Though slightly better than S.B. 374, the bill would still have negatively impacted genuine homeschooling families.

Instead of trying to defeat the bill on the House floor, IAHE and HSLDA focused on the conference committee members who would address the different versions of S.B. 384. Schmidt wrote key legislators giving reasons for our opposition and refuting the impression that we supported the bill. Homeschoolers made hundreds of calls to the House. Because of the work of IAHE, HSLDA, and homeschooling families across the state, S.B. 384 died in conference committee.

—by Thomas J. Schmidt