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Date:
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5/10/2002 3:10:17 PM
Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Missouri--Urgent: HB 1460 Passes Senate Committee-Calls Needed Monday To All Senators

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 10, 2002

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Your right to decide what is best for your 16-year-old is in imminent
peril in the Missouri legislature.

The source of the peril is House Bill 1460. It would permit
metropolitan school districts (i.e., the City of St. Louis) to raise
the age of compulsory attendance from 16 years of age to 17. Home
schoolers, too, would be subject to the increased age requirement,
but all objective standards would be removed.

It has passed through the House, and today it passed the Senate
committee. The full Senate will probably vote on it between May 13
and May 17, the last day of the session. Our final opportunity to
defeat this bill is for thousands of Missouri home schoolers and
other concerned citizens to inundate the Senate with phone calls.

Timing is crucial. The legislative session ends Friday, May 17. We do
not know which day the full senate will vote on the bill. It is
vitally important that calls be made EARLY in the week so they have
an impact before the vote. If possible, we would like to prevent the
bill from even coming up for a vote.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please call your Missouri state senator beginning Monday, May 13.
Your message may be as simple as, "Please oppose House Bill 1460. It
allows the City of St. Louis to take away a parent's right to decide
what is best for their 16-year-old. It will force young, disruptive
adults back into a classroom where they do not want to be, making it
harder for other students to learn. Studies show that raising
compulsory attendance ages does not reduce the drop out rate." You
may call 573-751-3824, the senate switchboard, and ask to be
connected to your senator, go to our legislative toolbox
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox . Please show this email to others and
ask them to call, as well.

BACKGROUND

1) Parents know best whether a 16-year-old should continue with a
high school program or move on to something else, such as college,
apprenticeship, or a full-time job. If House Bill 1460 passes,
parents who choose any of these options could be found guilty of a
class C misdemeanor under Missouri statutes sec.167.061.

2) Taxpayers in every county will help foot the bill for this
additional year of mandatory attendance in St. Louis. Although some
of the money for education comes from local revenues, a significant
amount comes from the state and state taxpayers. Doubtlessly the St.
Louis school system will ask for more state money for special
programs for the many disruptive 16-year-olds that will be forced
back into the system.

3) It will create headaches for employers. McDonnell Douglas, for
example, could hire a 16-year-old full time if his family lived in
St. Louis County, but if the company hired a 16-year-old living in
the city, the employer could be violating labor laws. Many companies
will avoid the risks by simply never hiring any 16-year-olds, even if
he is a promising, motivated youngster well prepared to enter the
workforce.

4) 16-year-olds are young adults. Some are violent and dangerous. A
young adult who does not want to be in the classroom will create
tremendous discipline problems making it much more difficult for
students who truly want to receive an education.

5) Proponents of higher compulsory attendance ages argue that a
higher age will reduce juvenile crime and reduce dropout rates.
Studies demonstrate that this is a false hope. Higher compulsory
attendance ages do not reduce juvenile crime and do not reduce
dropout rates.

6) If this bill passes, it will add to pressure to raise the
compulsory attendance age across the state.

7) Violence, drugs, and gangs have risen to shocking levels in public
school systems, especially urban systems. Compelling 16-year-olds to
remain in harm's way one more year against their wishes and the
wishes of their parents is unconscionable.

8) Having different compulsory attendance ages in different parts of
the state would create chaos. A 16-year-old in St. Charles might
finish his high school program and begin working full-time as an
apprentice, but if his family then moved a short distance to St.
Louis, the parents could be held guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
People expect the age of compulsory attendance to be the same across
an entire state. Creating a patchwork of compulsory attendance ages
sets a trap for the unwary.

9) 16-year-olds who are home schooled would still be under legal
obligation to enroll in and attend a home school. Parents would still
be under legal obligation to provide academic instruction. House Bill
1460, however, removes for 16-year-olds the clear and objective
standards as to what constitutes satisfactory enrollment, attendance,
and instruction. Under current law, a family that maintains certain
records and offers 1,000 hours of instruction in the required
subjects automatically satisfies the requirements of enrollment,
attendance, and academic instruction. House Bill 1460 removes the
requirements for keeping records and offering 1,000 hours for 16-year-
olds. With these clear, objective standards removed, a judge would be
free to create his own. Parents who thought they were "exempt"
because their home schooler turned 16 could be shocked when a judge
creates his own standards and finds the parents guilty of a class C
misdemeanor, or takes jurisdiction of their child.

The right of a parent to decide what is best for his child is
priceless. Please join us in working to protect this precious right.


Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.

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