|HSLDA Media Release||March 27, 2001|
Respectfully relentless, home schoolers change state laws in New Mexico
For immediate release
March 27, 2001
Contact: Rich Jefferson
(540) 338-8663 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA FE – Persistence paid off this week for New Mexico home schoolers when Governor Gary Johnson signed a bill liberating them from burdensome state laws.
"Our motto at the beginning of this was 'Respectfully Relentless,'" said Ramon Martinez, a board member of CAPE-NM, the Christian Association of Parent Educators of New Mexico. "We spent 17 days lobbying the legislature this year. And CAPE-NM members made a lot of phone calls."
Martinez's own state senator, Michael Sanchez, sponsored the bill. "We got to know him. We visited him year after year in his office. He checked out our reasons for requesting this legislation. He knows we appreciate that he has a tough job."
The bill allows parents to notify the state superintendent of education, rather than local superintendents, of their intent to home school. According to New Mexico home schoolers, local school districts have been prone to lose notification documents and to demand new filings from parents.
Because of other record keeping discrepancies in local school districts, and because home schoolers have demonstrated they score above average on standardized tests, the requirement for parents to submit standardized test scores to the local district was also eliminated.
"Our accountability reporting shows our students score in the 68th to 81st percentile," Martinez said. "Submitting our scores will not improve our performance. We are already doing well."
Two other key changes are that parents will no longer have to file an attendance report or immunization records with their local school district
Arizona passed a law in 1995 eliminating that state's requirement that home schoolers take a standardized test.
According to Darren Jones, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, this year's effort in New Mexico resulted from patient determination. Similar legislation failed to pass the Senate Education Committee in 1995, but that did not deter CAPE-NM.
"This is a good example of how to work with legislators," Jones said. "You encourage the legislators to get to know you and meet your children. You stay focused. You do the right things that you can do and trust God for the rest."
Senate Bill 374 will become the law of New Mexico on June 15, 2001.
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