Proposed Legislation in Minnesota
Bill H.F. 928 proposes to change Minnesota’s home school law by restoring a teacher certification requirement. The current law provides various options for home education and recognizes the parent’s right to teach without a specific education level. Parents who meet any of the various educational qualification levels must provide the name, age and address of each child taught, maintain a calendar of 170 days of instruction, and provide a quarterly report card on each child’s achievement in the required subjects. Children not enrolled in the public school must be assessed annually with a standardized achievement test.
The proposed bill would eliminate all of the options except the one allowing a person to teach who is licensed by the State of Minnesota. The annual standardized test requirement would be the same as the current law. If the results of the assessment indicate that the child is at or below the 30th percentile, or one grade level below the performance level for children of the same age, the person in charge of the child’s instruction must obtain an additional evaluation of the child’s abilities and performance for the purpose of determining whether the child has learning problems.
A child receiving instruction from a nonpublic school, person, or institution accredited by an agency recognized by the state is exempt from these requirements.
The proposed law requires the person responsible for providing instruction to provide specific information to the superintendent by October 1 of each school year, including the following: the name, age and address of each child receiving instruction, the name of each instructor and evidence of certification by the state, an annual instructional calendar showing at least 170 days of instruction, and a quarterly report card on the achievement of each child in each required subject area.
This proposed bill is almost identical to a bill proposed in the Nebraska legislature in 1987. The Nebraska proposal would have required all private, denominational and parochial schools in the state, and all teachers employed or giving instruction within the state, to be governed by the same laws as the public school system with regard to grades, qualifications and certification of teachers, and promotion of students. Fortunately, that bill was defeated in committee and home schoolers in Nebraska are not required to use certified teachers.
Only three states require certification as the only means of home education, North Dakota, Michigan, and Iowa. Two of those states now have bills pending before their legislatures which, if passed, would eliminate certification for home educators. Since 1956, thirty-one states have found it necessary to require that all home schooling be done by a certified teacher.
According to the author of the Minnesota bill, it was drafted in response to some home schoolers who refuse to give notice pursuant to the provisions of the existing law. Assuming that this is true, it is an overreaction, not unlike passing a law forbidding public school attendance because some students assault others on school grounds.
HSLDA encourages home schoolers to get involved in influencing the pending legislation. Contact your State Representative and the House Education Committee. Let them know that you are complying with the present home school law and that you believe there is no reason to change the law. Home schoolers may also contact the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators, Box 188, Anoka, MN 55303, if they want to know more.
If this bill passes, it will be the most restrictive home school law in America. Minnesota deserves better. Teacher certification would be a return to the dark ages and cause much turmoil and litigation within the state, since fewer than 10% of the present home schoolers could qualify under the proposed law. This bill may have been urged by the National Education Association (the teachers union) which has officially taken the position that all children should be taught by state certified teachers. Home school supporters need to get involved.