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2/3/2003 5:17:37 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Maine--Bill to Create Less Restrictive Homeschool Option Goes To Hearing

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 3, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Senator Carol Weston has introduced a bill in the Maine legislature,
Legislative Document 160, which would create a new homeschool option
free of the multitude of needless restrictions the Department of
Education has imposed through its rules. The bill would allow home
schoolers to breathe freely after 20 years of stifling
micromanagement and occasional abuse.

This new legislation would be an amazing improvement for Maine's
homeschooling families. Under these new requirements, parents would
only be required to provide a notice to the Commissioner of Education
14 days before the beginning of the home instruction program. The
notice must contain the parent's name, signature address, the child's
name and age, the date home instruction will begin, assurance that
175 days of instruction will be provided in the required subjects
(same as currently required). Parents must send a letter to the
Commissioner before September 1 every year thereafter, stating
whether they intend to continue home education for the child.

LD 160 creates this new option, but does not remove any option
currently available.

ACTION REQUESTED

The first crucial test of LD 160 will occur Tuesday, February 11,
when the Education and Cultural Affairs committee will hold a
hearing. Legislators listen to constituents. It is vital that they
hear from you about this bill. Your voice in support of the bill is
crucial to counterbalance the voice of those who want homeschoolers
to remain shackled to the needless restrictions in the current
regulations.

Please help support a new, less restrictive option for homeschoolers
by doing all of the following if you possibly can:

1. If you believe your letter would arrive by February 10, write to
every member of the committee (names listed below).

Committee Members:
Senator Neria R. Douglass (D-Androscoggin), Chair
Senator Michael F. Brennan (D-Cumberland)
Senator Betty Lou Mitchell (R-Penobscot)
Representative Glenn A. Cummings (D-Portland), Chair
Representative Rosita Gagne-Friel (D-Buckfield)
Representative Jacqueline R. Norton (D-Bangor)
Representative Jonathan Thomas (D-Orono)
Representative Edward D. Finch (D-Fairfield)
Representative Jeremy Fischer (D-Presque Isle)
Representative Thomas W. Murphy, Jr. (R-Kennebunk)*
Representative Mary Black Andrews (R-York)
Representative Mary Ellen Ledwin (R-Holden)
Representative Gerald M. Davis (R-Falmouth)
*Ranking Minority Member

Mailing Address:
Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0100

2. Call every member of the committee and courteously ask the
lawmaker to support the bill. Call 1-800-423-2900 for
representatives, 1-800-423-6900 for senators, and leave a message
(they have no offices in the capitol), or call them at home.

3. Attend the hearing February 11 in room 214 of the Cross building
in Augusta. When a hearing room is packed with homeschoolers,
legislators take notice. Please arrive by 12:30 PM to be ready for
the hearing at 1:30. Parking is challenging. Allow 15 to 30 minutes
to find parking, or carpool.

4. Write your own senator and representative (see our legislative
toolbox for help) even if he or she is not on the committee, and ask
him or her to support the bill.

5. Pass this on to other homeschoolers.

Your message can be as simple as, "Please vote in favor of LD 160,
'An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Home Instruction.' It will
remove unnecessary red tape from parents who choose homeschooling and
will reduce the State's cost of administration." If you wish to give
a fuller explanation, you can use information below as a resource.

Messages from courteous and well-informed families have a tremendous
impact. Keep in mind that many lawmakers do not read a bill until
right before they must take action. You should assume the lawmakers
know nothing about the bill. Be prepared to explain LD 160 clearly
and correctly.

REASONS WE SUPPORT LD 160

1. At a time when homeschooling was still an unknown factor, the
legislature delegated the responsibility to regulate homeschooling to
the state department of education. Many burdensome, needless
regulations were adopted because homeschooling was not well
understood.

2. LD 160 creates a homeschool option that is directly subject to
requirements the legislature imposes, bypassing the hopelessly
complicated and outdated red tape in Department of Education
regulations.

3. The Department of Education has often been insensitive to
homeschoolers, placing unlawful demands on them, mishandling
important documents, attempting to adopt a regulation in an area
where there is clearly no authorization, and adopting a regulation
opposed by the overwhelming majority of citizens.

4. Legislators, our elected representatives, should determine the
requirements for home education, not appointed officials. The right
of citizens to the free exercise of fundamental constitutional rights
is at stake. Regulation impacting fundamental rights should not be
left to unresponsive bureaucrats.

5. LD 160 creates an option that does not require costly "approval,"
a failed process rooted in old prejudice against innovative methods
of education. The "approval" process is now used in only three other
states (MA, UT, RI).

6. The "approval" process is tremendously expensive for the state to
administer because it requires administrative action multiple times
per year for every single homeschooler.

7. Under Maine's "approval" process, homeschoolers may languish
months before they know if they can homeschool legally. If the
Department does not respond, they will never know! While waiting for
the Department to act, homeschoolers may face significant legal
problems.

8. LD 160 would put Maine in the mainstream along with such states as
AL, AR, AZ, CA, KS, KY, MD, MS, MT, NE, NE, NM, NV, WI, WY which
offer a homeschool option under which parents file a simple written
notice in order to homeschool. In 11 other states (AK, DE, ID, IL,
IN, MI, MO, NJ, OK, SC, and TX), parents can home school without
providing any written notice at all.

For more information on LD 160 visit our web site at:
http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/me/2003/MELD160/default.asp

Maine's homeschoolers have been subjected to these burdensome
regulations long enough. With your help, we can win this fight for
homeschool freedom.

Very truly yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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