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2/4/2003 4:55:25 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
West Virginia--Your Help Needed to Pass Positive Changes to the Homeschool Law

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 4, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

The West Virginia Legislature is now considering Senate Bill 181, a
bill that would make significant changes to the homeschool law,
including permanent removal of the long-disliked four-year rule. The
bill has passed the West Virginia senate unanimously, and now goes to
the house for action. We need your help urgently!

At least one teacher's union and lawmaker are urging that the
portfolio option of the homeschool law be eliminated altogether. We
are in a very intense struggle. A major effort is needed now to
obtain passage of a good bill, remove its unhelpful features, and
prevent harmful new amendments as the bill moves forward.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please call your delegate and ask him or her to support Senate Bill
181. Your message may be as simple as, "Please vote in favor of
Senate Bill 181 relating to the homeschool exemption and compulsory
attendance. Do not accept any amendments that take rights away from
parents." To obtain contact information for your delegate, go to our
legislative toolbox at www.hslda.org/toolbox.

A teacher's union is working hard to influence delegates to turn this
bill into a tool to restrict homeschooling. It is crucial that your
delegate hear from you! As always, communicate respectfully and
thoughtfully with your delegate.

BACKGROUND

The four-year rule prohibits a parent from homeschooling unless he
has at least 4 years more formal education than the child. West
Virginia is the only state in the country with this unusual and
unjustifiable restriction.

Parents in other states without four years more education than their
children have a track record of successful homeschooling. One study
showed that homeschooled children of parents without even a high
school diploma scored 29 percentile points above the mean! The same
study showed that children in public school whose parents did not
finish high school scored 16 percentile points below the mean. (SB
181 does not change the current requirement that home school parents
have a high school diploma or the equivalent.)

The legislature has waived the rule for the past 3 years, but it
needs to be removed permanently. Home School Legal Defense
Association and Christian Home Educators of West Virginia are working
together in this effort.

As originally filed, Senate Bill 181 simply removed the four-year
rule. It was amended in committee, however. While it still abolishes
the four-year rule, desirable and undesirable features were added.
To read the entire text of SB 181 as it emerged from committee, go to
http://129.71.164.29/Bill_Text_HTML/2003_SESSIONS/Regular_Session/Sena
te/S_BILLS/SB100-199/RS_2003_SB100Frm.htm. Scroll down on the left
and click on sb181 sub1 eng to see the bill. Highlights are below.

ANALYSIS OF SENATE BILL181

>>Senate Bill 181 permanently removes the four-year rule.

>>Under the current law, a parent can be forced to stop homeschooling
a child if the child does not show progress or score above the 40th
percentile after two years of remediation. Senate Bill 181 would
allow a parent to continue the home instruction program even if
progress at the required level cannot be demonstrated, if the parents
provide evidence that appropriate instruction is being provided.
This provides a sensible alternative in a situation where a child is
not progressing even though appropriate instruction is being
provided.

>>Current law does not require a parent to state the child's age and
grade level when they fill their homeschool notification. Senate
Bill 181 would add this requirement. Many homeschooled children do
not fit neatly into one grade or another, however. Some parents do
not classify their children by grade. Grades are necessary in
institutions, but not in homes. We will seek an amendment.

>>Senate Bill 181 makes it clear that parents can choose any
nationally normed standardized test as a means of evaluation.

>>Current law requires that the mean of the child's test scores in
five subject areas reach the 40th percentile. Senate Bill 181 would
raise this to the 50th percentile. A lower score would be considered
acceptable, however, if there is improvement from the previous year's
results. Raising the "passing" score to the 50th percentile is
unreasonable. We will seek an amendment.

>>Senate Bill 181 adds new requirements to the portfolio option. The
narrative review of the portfolio would be required to include a
statement about the child's progress in each of the five subject
areas, as well as note any area where there is need for improvement
or remediation. If acceptable progress has been made, there is no
reason for the county superintendent to know areas where improvement
or remediation is needed. Parents need this information, but school
officials do not. This is because parents are providing the
instruction, not the school officials. We will seek an amendment.

Thank you for standing with us to relieve West Virginia homeschool
families from unnecessary restrictions!

Very truly yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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