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6/21/2002 10:44:26 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Pennsylvania--Update on House Bill 2560

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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On June 13, 2002, HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka testified before
the Pennsylvania House Education Committee in support of House Bill
2560, a bill that would dramatically reduce the requirements placed
on home schoolers in Pennsylvania. The hearing was designed to inform
the Education Committee of the need to change Pennsylvania's home
school law that is one of the most restrictive laws in the United
States. A series of panelists testified before the Committee.

The hearing took place at Harrisburg's Forum Amphitheatre where
approximately 1,600 home schoolers arrived wearing red to show their
support of the bill. Chris Klicka of HSLDA, Dr. Brian Ray of the
National Home Education Research Institute, Dr. Bruce Eagleson of the
Christian Home School Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP), several
representatives of various home school organizations, and a few
public school officials were among the panelists testifying.

"We are here for one reason, and one reason only: freedom." Chris
Klicka's opening statement drew applause and cheers from the crowd of
mostly home schooler families. Klicka told the Committee, "The
Pennsylvania home school law is broken, and you need to fix it." He
gave the Committee three reasons for supporting H.B. 2560.

First, the bill would eliminate many burdensome requirements
arbitrarily imposed by school districts. "Over the past 14 years our
office has represented well over 1,000 home school families who have
been arbitrarily abused by school officials through the application
of the current law. Our legal contact files in Pennsylvania are
virtually the largest of any state. The current restrictive home
school law has not kept the local school districts in Pennsylvania
from developing policies which add to or contradict the provisions of
the statute." HSLDA supplied each member of the Committee with a 5-
page memorandum documenting various conflicts we have worked on over
the last year.

Secondly, Klicka testified that regulation and accountability to the
government does not make better home school students. Parents have a
fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of their
children and H.B. 2560 protects this liberty. Klicka offered evidence
demonstrating that students who are home schooled on the average
score above average at the elementary and the secondary grade levels.
Furthermore, the publishers of the ACT and SAT college entrance exams
have tracked home schoolers for the last three or four years and have
found that home schoolers on the average are scoring above average on
the college entrance exams. Lastly, according to internal surveys by
a number of colleges, home schoolers on the average have a higher GPA
at a college level.

Klicka told the Committee that, "research... demonstrates that there
is no positive correlation between state regulation of home schools
and performance of home school students... home schooling works
without excessive state regulation."
Thirdly, Klicka testified that Pennsylvania is out of step with the
nationwide trend to deregulate home schoolers. "The home school law
in Pennsylvania comprises one of the most restrictive home school
laws in the nation. Only New York has more oversight over home
education of all the states, but the state is on the verge of
overturning its law with the expected passage of Senate Bill 4767
which would eliminate 75% of the present regulation of home schoolers
in the state of New York. Pennsylvania needs House Bill 2560 to
enable it to join the trend throughout the states to protect parent's
rights and begin to trust the parents."

Klicka also address some of the objections that have been raised
regarding House Bill 2560.

Interestingly, one of the school superintendents who testified
admitted that even though she thought the bill was a bad idea, it
would make her job much easier. Upon questioning from one of the
representatives she admitted that 99% of home school parents are
conscientious and dedicated to their children's education, while the
percentage of dedicated public school parents was "probably not that
high." She also admitted that in her six years as superintendent of a
local school district, not even one home school family had ever
submitted a deficient home school portfolio.

Many Committee members responded positively, praising the academic
performance of home schoolers and their high moral quality. They
recognized the dedication of the families present at the hearing and
many members went on record stating that they wished to reduce the
restrictions on home schoolers.

For more information on Pennsylvania H.B. 2560 visit:
http://www.hslda.org/legislation/state/PA/2002/PAHB2560/default.asp

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