From the HSLDA E-lert Service:
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Date:
From:
Subject:

3/11/2002 1:34:35 PM
Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Missouri--Legislation Would Raise Compulsory Attendance Age

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Dear Missouri Members and Friends,

The Missouri legislature recently acted on two bills that will
negatively impact home education if passed into law. Both House Bill
1460 and its companion, Senate Bill 858, would allow metropolitan
school districts to increase the age of compulsory attendance from 16
to 17. For the reasons detailed below, HSLDA strongly opposes these
bills.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please call your senator and representative and give them this
message:

"Please oppose the compulsory attendance age bill S.B. 858. This
bill is unnecessary, restricts parental choice, and wastes taxpayer
money." (Refer to H.B. 1460 when you call your representative.)

You do not need to identify yourself as a home schooler. If they
ask, answer honestly. If they say, "This doesn't affect home
schooling" respond courteously, "Can a high school dropout say he is
home schooling in order to avoid compulsory attendance?" The correct
answer is "yes." Then point out, "This does affect home schooling.
Please oppose H.B. 1460 and S.B. 858."

Call the Missouri capitol switchboard at 573-751-3659 and ask to be
connected to your state representative or senator.

If you do not know who your senator or representative is you can
locate them through HSLDA's "Legislative Toolbox" located at:
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox.

HSLDA'S REASONS FOR OPPOSING H.B. 1460 AND S.B. 858

Children are BEST educated when PARENTS have the freedom to make
individual choices regarding their children's education. These bills
further limit the cherished right of parents to determine what is
best for their children. When parental freedoms are respected, some
parents will choose to continue educating their children beyond the
age of compulsory attendance. Others, including those with children
who have excelled academically as many home schoolers do, will cease
education when the child reaches the age of compulsory attendance.
This decision, however, must remain the prerogative of the parent,
not the state. Raising the compulsory attendance age limits parental
choice regarding the education of their children, thereby diminishing
the effectiveness of education.

If these bills are enacted, the compulsory attendance age will be
fragmented across the state. This would be especially problematic for
families who move from one school district to another. If a family
with a 16-year-old graduate moves from a district with a compulsory
age of 16, to a district with a compulsory age of 17, they would be
required to continue the formal education of this student because of
the higher compulsory age in the new district. A family will no
longer know for certain what the compulsory attendance age is in the
district they live in unless they contact the school district.

Fracturing the compulsory attendance age will create problems in
other areas of the law, including confusion regarding employment 16-
year-olds.

Beyond the infringement upon parental rights, these bills also
propose a dangerous precedent for making substantive changes to the
law. It is improper to delegate authority to a school district to
restrict parental choice regarding the education of their children.
Changes to the compulsory attendance law should be made by the
legislature, and not be left to the whim of the local school
district.

BACKGROUND

H.B. 1460 and S.B. 858 are identical bills that give metropolitan
school districts the ability to raise the top end of the compulsory
attendance age from 16 to 17. This change in would affect not only
students who attend public schools, but also private school and home
school students. Home schoolers would not know for sure what the age
of compulsory attendance is in their area without contacting the
school district, something they are not and should not be required to
do.

H.B. 1460 (sponsored by Representative Robert Hilgemann) passed out
of the Miscellaneous Bills and Resolutions Committee on February 28,
2002. The bill is now before the full House but has not been placed
on the calendar at this time. You can read the text of H.B. 1460 at:
http://www.house.state.mo.us/bills02/bills02/hb1460.htm.

S.B. 858 (sponsored by Senator Patrick Dougherty) was passed by the
Senate Education Committed on March 6, 2002. The bill is now before
the full Senate but has not been placed on the calendar at this time.
Read the text of S.B. 858 at:
http://www.senate.state.mo.us/02info/bills/sb858.htm.

Both bills carefully exclude home schoolers, but this creates a
"loophole" that will seriously damage the reputation of home
schooling families in Missouri. If dropouts can avoid compulsory
attendance by saying that they are home schooling, they will do so.
We must not let this happen.

Thank you for standing strong with us to protect the right of parents
to educate their children.

Sincerely yours,

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.

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