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2/7/2003 2:07:56 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Maine--Legislation Would Eliminate Red Tape For Homeschoolers

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 7, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

The crucial hearing on LD 160 is now only 4 days away. On February
11, it will be held in the Cross Building at the state capitol, room
214. As mentioned in our last e-lert, we urge every home school
family to do all they can to support this excellent bill.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please attend this hearing! Try to arrive by 12:30 so you are ready
for the 1:30 hearing.

If you are coming to the hearing, also consider calling ahead and
getting an appointment to talk to your senator or representative.
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. This would be a tremendous opportunity to sit down and
explain how LD 160 will benefit Maine families.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

LD 160 creates a new home school option without all the red tape in
Department of Education regulations. Families using the new option
will avoid:

A. Support system "assistance". Back when homeschooling was an
unknown factor, this provision could perhaps be justified.
Homeschooling in the last 20 years has been the subject of many
studies, however, none of which justifies requiring a support system.
"Assistance" is undefined, and is essentially meaningless and
unenforceable. No other state in the country mandates such a
requirement.

B. Length of day. Homeschool families now are required to affirm that
they plan to provide "an instructional day of adequate length of time
to accomplish the proposed educational program." This is so vague it
is meaningless.

C. Sample of typical weekly schedule. Families now must submit a
sample typical weekly schedule. Homeschool families do an excellent
job educating their children, but there may be few "typical" weeks.
There is no definition of "typical", which renders the requirement
unenforceable. Does a child really need a "typical" week? While
some children thrive on routine, others thrive on continual
surprises.

D. List of Books. Families now must list or describe the
instructional materials and textbooks they plan to use. However,
there is no standard for determining which books are acceptable.
Since the government (quite sensibly) does not intend to tell
families which books they are permitted to use, it is pointless to
ask for the list.

E. Four annual assessments. Families now must submit a plan for
accurately and adequately assessing the student's progress at least
four times during the school year. Although a public school teacher
with 25 students may need formal assessments to determine the
progress of her students, a mother with a handful of children knows
exactly where her students are on every subject every day.

F. Year-end assessment. Families now must submit an annual
assessment of progress. Fewer than half of the states require any
sort of annual assessment for homeschooled students. Of those that
do, many do not require it every year. We would never dream of
randomly picking one child out of a classroom, giving that child a
test, and then judging the teacher's ability based only on that one
score. When homeschool parents are required to submit an annual
assessment, however, this is precisely what is happening.

G. Plan for record keeping. Families now must implement a plan for
"record-keeping which charts the student's academic progress and
records other pertinent information." While this makes sense for a
teacher with 25 students, it does not make sense for a mother who
works with her children daily and is intimately familiar with their
progress. Another vague phrase "other pertinent information" is
undefined, making it meaningless and unenforceable. The rules give
the commissioner no authority to take action based on the records in
any event.

The Department's regulations are based on the assumption that greater
regulation helps children. Studies have shown, however, that
homeschoolers in states with little or no regulation score just as
well as homeschoolers in states with heavy regulation-- 20 to 30
percentile points above other students on standardized achievement
tests.

Please join us in supporting LD 160. With your help we can make
homeschooling much easier for Maine parents.

Sincerely,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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