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2/26/2003 5:39:26 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New York--State College Policy Discriminates Against Homeschoolers

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 26, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Beginning in the 2002-03 school year, homeschoolers are seeing an
increase in discrimination as a result of the implementation of a
previously dormant New York State Education Department policy. This
policy is preventing colleges from recognizing a 9-12 grade
homeschool education as being sufficient to enroll in either a State
University of New York or community college.

The Board of Regents Rule causing the most trouble at this time, is
found in section 3.47(a) of Chapter 1 of Title 8, which states: "no
earned degree shall be conferred unless the candidate has had a
preliminary education of at least a four year high school course, or
its equivalent, as determined by the Commissioner. Satisfactory
evidence of such preliminary education must be offered before
beginning the course of study for the degree."

This means a private diploma issued by the parent, which millions of
homeschool students across the U.S. receive, is not recognized by the
state of New York. The commissioner has issued a policy statement
saying a homeschooler must produce either a GED, a letter from their
school district recognizing the legitimacy of their academic program,
or they must enroll in a special GED program that requires completion
of 24 specific credit hours in college.

Homeschoolers often do not want to obtain a GED since it carries with
it the stigma of a dropout. Homeschoolers are not dropouts; they are
completing a full high school education. In addition, most school
districts refuse to provide any such documentation because of the
liabilities involved. They will not recognize any homeschool program
as sufficient, even if the family has followed the requirements of
the law. The "special" GED option is difficult for many homeschool
students who do not want to take all of the 24 credit hours required.
This makes it difficult for them to complete their majors in fields
other than those covered by the 24 credit hours.

Homeschoolers are also facing colleges who refuse to grant them
financial aid, even though they are completely eligible. Although
there are some state-specific grants and financial aid monies
available that are governed by state law, many of these colleges are
violating the federal Higher Education Act, which clearly states that
any student who "has completed a high school education in a home
school setting" is eligible for federal financial aid. The U.S.
Department of Education allows for homeschoolers to self-certify
their homeschool diplomas. Colleges should ask no further questions
and place no additional obstacles before homeschoolers seeking
financial aid.

The Home School Legal Defense Association has represented many
homeschool graduates who are being refused entry into state colleges.
All studies done at this point show that homeschoolers generally
score above average on standardized achievement tests in both
elementary and secondary levels. Furthermore, studies completed at
universities show that homeschool graduates have higher grade point
averages than graduates from traditional schools. This demonstrates
only one thing: homeschooling works.

Homeschool lobbyist Duane Motley and I are working with Loving
Education At Home (LEAH) and their committee formed to deal with
college discrimination. We have adopted a three-point strategy for
dealing with this college discrimination problem. First, HSLDA is
preparing language to be introduced in the legislature to prevent
discrimination against homeschoolers in college. Second, Duane Motley
has met with the Commissioner of Education and the Chancellor of the
Board of Regents to inform him of the current discrimination against
homeschoolers. They have both indicated an interest in resolving this
problem. LEAH is gathering anecdotal information demonstrating the
problem faced by homeschool students seeking to gain admission to New
York universities or seek financial aid. The third step will be a
grassroots effort to flood the Board of Regents with letters and
email urging them to change their college policy for homeschoolers.

We will be updating everyone in the near future regarding when to
begin this campaign. In the meantime, the anti-college discrimination
legislation will be introduced and negotiations will continue with
the Commissioner and the Chancellor of the Board of Regents.

State universities and community colleges in New York should be open
to all students, homeschoolers included.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher J. Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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