From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


9/4/2002 2:21:45 PM
Dewitt T. Black III, Esq., Senior Counsel of HSLDA
Montana--Senator Requests Legislation Imposing Testing on Home Schoolers

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

September 4, 2002

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

On June 20, 2002, Senator Don Ryan (D-Great Falls) submitted a formal
request to the Montana Legislature for the drafting of a bill to
require home school students to be tested annually with the same
state assessment used in public schools. Other nonpublic school
students would be tested as well under Senator Ryan's proposal.
Parents failing or refusing to have the test administered to their
children would be subject to prosecution for truancy and possible
investigation by social services.

At this point, we do not have any specific language being proposed by
Senate Ryan, such as who would administer the tests, minimum scores
required, and consequences for failing to meet the state's standard.
This information will be provided to you as soon as possible. We are
working closely with the Montana Coalition of Home Educators to keep
our member families advised of developments and to coordinate
opposition to this legislation.


Please spread the word to other home schooling families about Senator
Ryan's plans. As soon as we know precisely what his legislative
proposal is, we will provide you with additional information and a
strategy for defeating this threat to your home school freedoms in


-- Numerous nationwide studies of home education have all drawn the
same conclusion-- more state regulation of home schools does not
result in higher scholastic achievement. There is simply no academic
benefit to imposing state testing on home school students in Montana.

-- State tests reflect the course content of subjects taught in
public schools. While home
schoolers in Montana must be taught the same subjects as public
school students, the course content does not have to be the same. Any
requirement that the course content be the same would effectively
destroy home schooling. State testing of home school students would
be the first step in this direction.

-- Only eight states in the nation prescribe standardized testing as
the only method of evaluating home schooled students. Montana would
join a shrinking minority of states requiring any type of testing.
Further, the science and social studies portions of these tests are
becoming increasingly objectionable to Christians with a Biblical


Steve White, Legislative Liaison for the Montana Coalition of Home
Educators, discovered Senator Ryan's bill drafting request and
contacted him in effort to determine his reasons for the testing
proposal. Apparently Senator Ryan was prompted to impose state
testing on home schools and nonpublic schools by president Bush's "No
Child Left Behind" federal initiative requiring the testing of public
school students. Senator Ryan told Mr. White that he believes there
is a need for some type of accountability to the state for all
children of compulsory attendance age, regardless of the educational
option chosen for them. According to Senator Ryan, no state agency or
anti-home school group has requested the legislation he intends to

In 1991 a bill was introduced in the Montana Legislature that would
have required testing of home school students. When the home
educators of Montana rose up in opposition to this bill, it was not
only defeated, but in its place a new section was added to the home
school law giving even more freedom to parents. We will be ready with
another countercharge this year if necessary.

Very truly yours,

Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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