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

1/30/2003 4:34:43 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Montana--Legislation Threatens Homeschool Freedoms

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 29, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Senate Bill 276 introduced by Senator Don Ryan (D-SD 22) would
require homeschool students to take state tests adopted by the
Montana Board of Public Education. This bill threatens the freedom
from testing that Montana home educators have enjoyed since the
homeschool law was first enacted in 1983.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this bill would effectively
destroy homeschooling in Montana. While state assessments now in use
for public school students are nationally-normed standardized
achievement tests, the state must develop new tests to measure
achievement of state content standards to comply with the federal No
Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Since the state standards are derived
from the public school curriculum, parents conducting home
instruction will be forced to use public school textbooks in order to
teach the same content. Home education in Montana would essentially
become public school at home.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires states to test
public school students on state content and achievement standards at
various grade levels. However, the federal law prohibits states from
including homeschool students in this testing. The Montana Office of
Public Instruction is currently developing these tests which will
also become the state assessments required of homeschool students. If
Montana wants to continue to receive federal funds for education, it
must enact a law to require additional testing of public school
students, but SB 276 would wrongly include homeschool students.

This bill must be defeated before it gains any momentum. It is
crucial that you contact all members of the Senate Education
Committee as well as your own state senators to express your
opposition to this bill.

REQUESTED ACTION

1. Please contact the members of the Senate Education Committee
listed below and your own state representative with this message:

"Please vote against Senate Bill 276 which violates the right of
parents to choose the curriculum they consider best for their own
children. The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 specifically
prohibits states from mandating that homeschool students take state
assessments. Enactment of this bill will jeopardize all federal
funding for education in Montana."

A letter is the most effective means of influencing legislators. If
you choose not to write, please call and email the state senators.
They need to hear from every homeschooling family in Montana.

- Senate Education Committee:

- Senator William E. Glaser, Chairman (R) SD 8

- Senator Robert R. Story, Jr., Vice Chairman (R) SD 12

- Senator Jerry Black (R) SD 44
blacks@msn.net

- Senator Edward B. Butcher (R) SD 47
senatorbutcher@aftco.net

- Senator Mike Cooney (D) SD 26
cooneyemail@aol.com

- Senator Jim Elliott (D) SD 36
jim@jimelliott.org

- Senator Royal C. Johnson (R) SD 5
royalcjohnson@aol.com

- Senator Jeff Mangan (D) SD 23
jmangan@mountainpeaksinc.com

- Senator Don Ryan (D) SD 22
senatordonryan@msn.com

- Senator Tom Zook (R) SD 2

You can call any of the Senators listed above at:
406-444-3064 (Montana Legislature)

You can write to any of the Senators listed above at:

Senator (Insert Name)
PO Box 200500
Helena, MT 59620-0500


2. Please forward this E-lert to every homeschooling family you know
who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact the Committee
members and their own state senator.

To get the name of your state senator, use HSLDA's Legislative
Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox. If you do not have Internet
access, call the Montana Legislature at 406-444-3064.

REASONS WE OPPOSE S.B. 276

-State testing would be imposed on homeschool students for the first
time in the history of homeschooling in Montana.

- Only eight states require testing as the only means of evaluating a
home instruction program, and no state requires homeschool students
to be tested on state content standards.

- Studies have shown that increased state oversight of homeschooling
does not result in higher academic achievement.

- Enactment of this legislation will result in a violation of the
federal law when homeschool students are required to take the same
tests by which the state complies with the No Child Left Behind Act
of 2001.

- This bill will have the effect of requiring parents to teach the
public school curriculum in order to prepare for the state
assessments, thereby violating the parents' constitutional right to
direct the education of their children.

- Forcing homeschool students to be tested on material they have not
been taught is fundamentally unfair and, therefore, unconstitutional.

BACKGROUND

On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left
Behind Act of 2001. Among other things, this federal law requires
states to test public school students in the areas of mathematics,
reading or language arts, and science at certain grade levels in
order to measure their achievement of state academic content and
achievement standards. However, HSLDA added into this federal law a
provision which specifically excludes homeschools from the testing
requirement:

"Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect a home school,
whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or a private
school under State law, nor shall any student schooled at home be
required to participate in any assessment referenced in this
chapter."

Montana Office of Public Instruction plans to change the testing of
public school students are intended to meet the new federal testing
requirements. Beginning in the 2004 school year, the Montana Office
of Public Instruction intends to implement state testing to measure
achievement of state content standards. These tests will be approved
by committees of Montana public school teachers based on the content
of the public school curriculum.

Senator Ryan's effort to include homeschool students in the state
assessments will place Montana in violation of federal law and should
result in the loss of all federal funding for education.

To review a copy of the bill text, go to:
http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/2003/billhtml/SB0276.htm

To review a copy of Chris Klicka's memorandum on the No Child Left
Behind Act of 2001, go to:
http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200301080.asp


Sincerely,

Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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