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

8/9/2002 5:13:04 PM
Scott W. Somerville, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Nevada--Department of Education Pushing for Curriculum Approval of Home Schoolers

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

The Nevada Department of Education is trying to control the content
of every home school program in Nevada. They have advised local
school districts that every home school curriculum must now comply
with the State's new "Academic Standards." This is a dramatic
reversal of policy that could affect every Nevada home schooler not
using an "approved correspondence course." (The correspondence
courses on the approved list must meet the Standards to be approved.)

This is a serious situation. If the Department of Education does not
change its position, many families may be ordered to change the way
they teach their children. Few home school curricula are designed to
match Nevada's secular Academic Standards. Home schoolers who insist
on using the curriculum of their choice now face a genuine risk of
prosecution. HSLDA and home school leaders in Nevada are already
working together to change this policy. If this effort fails, we
must change Nevada's law.

ACTION REQUESTED

1) Communicate. Nevada is one of two states in the country that has
no active state-wide home school organization. If you are a member
of a local support group, please make sure this information reaches
everyone in your group. If you know other home schoolers online,
please pass this message on to them. Encourage people to sign up for
HSLDA's free e-lert service.

2) Activate. If you are not in a local support group, it may be time
to find one. Ask your home schooling friends about groups in your
area. Contact your county's home school administrator, if you need
to.

3) Legislate. This problem was caused by two words ("equivalent
instruction") in state law, and the most straightforward solution to
the problem would be to take those two words out of the law. We need
to contact each legislator in Nevada to see who will support home
school freedoms. With a lot of prayer, patience, and hard work, a
united home school community could get a good home school bill
enacted into law when the Legislature opens for business next
February.

BACKGROUND

For years, Nevada home schoolers have had two basic choices. They
can either use a curriculum from the State Department of Education's
"approved correspondence course" list, or they can consult with a
licensed teacher from any state or a homeschool parent with at least
three years' experience. (There are more options, but these are the
ones that really matter.)

Then HSLDA got a call from a home school leader in Churchill County.
The home school administrator there told one of the home schoolers in
her group that he would not accept KONOS as a home school curriculum.
When home schoolers told him that the law allowed parents with a
consultant to use any curriculum they wanted, the administrator
handed her the following email from the State Department of
Education:

- - - - - - - - - -

July 25, 2002

Dear Home School Administrators,

FYI-I am getting some calls from parents in various districts telling
me someone at the district office is telling them that if they choose
a legal option other than the "approved correspondence program" such
as a consultant, they can use whatever curriculum they want to.

In case someone is giving out this information - this is not the
case.

Whatever curriculum a homeschooling parent chooses, someone in the
district has to be familiar with it, or review it, to be able to know
it indeed matches the state standards. For various reasons they may
want to choose a correspondence program for example that is not on
the approved list (they like it, it's less expensive etc. however it
couldn't be on the approved list because the correspondence program
is not accredited). In that case it's kind of a catch 22 because
they don't want to purchase the curriculum to have it reviewed and
then have someone say it doesn't match the state standards. However,
it may be hard to make the determination from a scope and sequence
only. If a program is accredited the correspondence program may want
to contact me to find out about sending in a sample of curriculum to
have it reviewed as per matching the standards - and then hopefully
get board approval to be on the approved correspondence program list.
If you have further questions, please call me.

Thanks-
Leslie James

- - - - - - - - - -

I have spent the last seven days trying to make sure this is not just
some horrible mistake. Unfortunately, The Attorney General's office
has apparently advised the Department of Education that Nevada law
requires each home school program to match the state's new Academic
Standards. (You can see what these standards require by looking at
http://www.nde.state.nv.us/sca/standards/index.html.) Few home school
programs are designed to match this set of secular standards. No
home schooler that I have spoken to ever imagined that these public
school standards might be applied to home schools.

When the Department of Education discovered that Churchill County had
told families they could not use KONOS, Leslie James sent out another
email to clarify matters.

- - - - - - - - - -

August 6, 2002

Home Schooling Consultants,

FOLLOWING NAC and NRS:

Re: NAC 392.015 "A child must be excused from compulsory attendance
at public school when written evidence is provided to the board of
trustees of the county school district that the child will receive
equivalent instruction..."

And: NRS 392.070 (1) "Attendance required by the provisions of NRS
392.040 must be excused when satisfactory written evidence is
presented to the board of trustees of the school district in which
the child resides that the child is receiving at home or in some
other school equivalent instruction of the kind and amount approved
by the state board."

As I have discussed with some of you on the phone...

IN REVIEWING CURRICULUM listed in the notification packet to assure
that the child will receive "equivalent instruction" (aside from the
curriculum on the list of "Approved Correspondence Programs" which
has already been reviewed), please work with the parents to help make
the decision as to whether the curriculum substantially matches the
state standards, rather than automatically telling parents they
"can't use a curriculum not on the list of approved programs." They
CAN use a curriculum not on this list--as long as it matches the
state standards.

The district needs to have someone familiar with the state standards
who can review the curriculum so that "written evidence is provided
to the board of trustees of the county school district that the child
will receive equivalent instruction".

Options regarding review of curriculum:

1) Review a scope and sequence to make sure the standards are
substantially covered. If an area looks like it is missing e.g.,
writing- the parent can supplement with other curriculum that matches
the state standards.

2) If you can't tell that the curriculum substantially matches the
state standards by looking at the scope and sequence, have the parent
see if the vendor will submit a sample of the curriculum to the
district for review if the parent doesn't have it yet. If you need
further help in reviewing curriculum, you can consult with the
curriculum consultants here at the State Department of Education...

I know this is not an easy issue for districts to handle.

Leslie James

- - - - - - - - - -

The situation is serious but not immediately dangerous. No school
district has threatened prosecution over this matter--yet. Clark
County, the largest school district in the state, has a "Notification
of Intent Form" that does not even ask which curriculum a parent uses
unless they choose an approved correspondence course. With school
starting in just two weeks and approximately 3,000 home school
students in the district, Clark County's officials may be as
astonished at this development as the home schoolers are.

Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or we shall most
assuredly all hang separately." Hanging together doesn't mean
everyone agrees on everything: in Nevada, home schoolers differ on
many issues. The vast majority of home schoolers agree, however,
that their home schools are not subject to Academic Standards
designed for public schools. It's time for home school families to
rally together for freedom.

Pass this message on! If you got this message from a friend, you can
sign up for your own elerts at the HSLDA website (www.HSLDA.org).

Yours for liberty,

Scott W. Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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