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2/6/2003 5:04:04 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Wyoming--Calls Needed to Stop Mandatory Kindergarten Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 6, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

I just got off the phone with Department of Education officials and a
reporter for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Both report that Senator
Sessions recognizes that Senate Bill No. 110 cannot become law this
year. If the Senate Education Committee does not act on this bill by
Friday, February 7, it is dead. Thank you for all your hard work in
stopping this assault on home education!

Unfortunately, House Bill No. 201 has passed the House Education
Committee. Our sources at the Wyoming Department of Education
indicated that the purpose of this bill is to keep families from
enrolling their children in public school kindergarten and then
pulling them out again. Senator Coe, who chairs the Senate Education
Committee and is a co-sponsor of this bill, has no desire to hurt
homeschoolers. Unfortunately, the bill as currently written would
affect homeschool families. We believe it must be amended before it
is signed into law.

I have emailed Senator Coe, Chairman of the Senate Education
Committee, to suggest he adds one sentence to H.B. 201 to make it
acceptable to HSLDA. That sentence reads, "This section does not
apply to a home based educational program operated pursuant to W.S.
21-4-101 and 21-4-102." This would specifically exempt homeschoolers
from compulsory kindergarten.

ACTION REQUESTED

Call the voter hotline at 866-996-8683 and say, "I oppose House Bill
No. 201 unless it is amended to exempt homeschoolers." Be prepared to
tell the operator what county you are calling from.

BACKGROUND

By and large the sponsors of H.B. 201 are friendly to homeschoolers.
Senator Sessions, who is a co-sponsor, is the exception. The intent
of the bill is to solve one small problem, but the effect of the bill
is to imply that homeschoolers must submit documentation of a
kindergarten program well before their child reaches the compulsory
attendance age of 7. In other states, homeschoolers who file their
initial paperwork for a first (or even second) grade program have
been told that they must file a kindergarten program instead. The
language of H.B. 201 as it stands would tend to produce this absurd
result.

The Department of Education has calculated how many Wyoming students
are currently staying out of kindergarten. In 1994, 6,930 attended
kindergarten. The next year, 7,104 went into first grade. This means
that 174 children skipped kindergarten the previous year. Over the
years, the number of children who skipped public school kindergarten
has declined. In 1997, there were only 107 children did not to attend
public kindergarten who attended first grade the next year. In 2000,
there were only 38 such children. In 2001, the most recent year for
which numbers are available, only 33 children attended first grade
who had not attended kindergarten the year before. Thus, H.B. 201 is
will not really force large numbers of children into public school
kindergarten.

With enough calls from homeschoolers, Senator Coe may be willing to
add our amendment to his bill. Thank you for your help in protecting
homeschool freedoms in Wyoming.

Very truly yours,

Scott W. Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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