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3/14/2003 5:05:20 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Arkansas--Legislation Would Allow Further Regulation of Home Schools

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 14, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

We need your calls immediately! Your freedom to home school is in
danger. On March 10, 2003, Representative John Lewellen introduced
House Bill 2518 in the Arkansas General Assembly. This bill would
grant to the State Board of Education more authority over home
schools than has ever been granted to a state agency by any other
legislature in the nation!

The language of the bill authorizes the State Board of Education "to
undertake measures to ensure that home school students receive a
quality education." This carte blanche authority means that the State
Board of Education could impose on families whatever requirements it
considers necessary for home school students to receive a quality
education. Government bureaucrats, not parents, will define "quality
education."

We need you to act immediately to stop this onerous bill in order to
preserve the home school freedoms now enjoyed by Arkansas home
educators. It is crucial that you contact all members of the House
Education Committee as well as your own state representative to
express your opposition to this bill.

REQUESTED ACTION

(1) Please contact the members of the House Education Committee and
give them this message:

"Please vote against House Bill 2518, the Lewellen home school bill,
which would grant unlimited authority over home schools to the State
Board of Education. Current law already gives the State Board of
Education the authority to regulate home schools so long as it is
consistent with the existing statutory language. Representative
Lewellen's bill would unconstitutionally delegate to the State Board
of Education the Legislature's authority to make law."

The House Education Committee members are listed below.

- Rep. Calvin Johnson, Chairman - johnson_c@vx4500.uapb.edu
- Rep. Harmon Seawel
- Rep. Paul Bookout
- Rep. Herschel Cleveland
- Rep. Robert J. White - rwhite@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Paul Weaver
- Rep. Mary Beth Green - mgreen@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Phillip T. Jacobs - pjacobs@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Steve Oglseby - soglesby@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Lindbergh Thomas - lthomas@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Thomas Moore - mooret@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Joyce Elliott - elliottj@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Dwight Fite
- Rep. Leroy Dangeau - dangeaul@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Linda Chesterfield - chesterfieldl@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Jeff Wood - woodj@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Horace Hardwick - pickettb@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Kevin Penix - penixk@arkleg.state.ar.us
- Rep. Tommy Dickinson - dickinsont@arkleg.state.ar.us

The House of Representatives are usually in session from 8:00 a.m.
until 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most House members do not have
an office, staff, or telephone at the Capitol. Therefore, the best
way to reach your state representative is to call the House
switchboard at 501-682-6211 and leave a message. For email addresses
and other telephone numbers of legislators, please go HSLDA's
legislative toolbox at: www.hslda.org/toolbox.

(2) Please contact your own state representative and give the same
message in opposition of House Bill 2518.

(3) Please forward this alert to every home schooling family you know
who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact the members of
the House Education Committee and their own state representative.

REASONS WE OPPOSE HOUSE BILL 2518

House Bill 2518 would make the following changes in the current law:

- require the State Board of Education to promulgate rules,
regulations, or guidelines to the extent necessary to ensure that
home school students receive a quality education;

- authorize the State Board of Education to act beyond the limits of
the language of the current home school statute and thereby impose on
home schools whatever additional requirements they desire; and

- change the requirements of the notice given by parents to the local
superintendent each year to add a written statement of assurance by
the parent-teacher stating that "a quality education will be provided
to each home school student and that the proposed curriculum and
schedule will be followed."

BACKGROUND

State legislatures are empowered to authorize state agencies to issue
rules and regulations needed to implement or enforce laws enacted by
the legislature. However, there are constitutional limits on the
extent to which a legislature may do this. A legislature may not turn
over to a state agency complete authority to enact laws and thereby
perform the function reserved to the legislature. In our opinion,
House Bill 2518 exceeds the constitutional limits of authority that
the Arkansas General Assembly may grant to the State Board of
Education. Article 5, Section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution states
that the "legislative power of this state shall be vested in a
General Assembly, which shall consist of the Senate and House of
Representatives." The General Assembly may not transfer this
legislative power to the State Board of Education or any other state
agency.

Arkansas is one of the few states where both statutes enacted by its
legislature and regulations promulgated by a state agency govern home
schools. Most states have either statutes or regulations but not
both. Arkansas home schools do not need more state oversight,
especially by those who would be given a free hand to impose any
requirement which in their judgment would be good for home education.

The law for home schools in Arkansas already requires parents to
submit a basic core curriculum and proposed schedule of instruction
to the local superintendent at the beginning of the school year.
Representative Lewellen's bill would add the needless requirement
that the parent state that the curriculum and schedule of instruction
will be followed. Implied in the requirement that the parent submit
this information as part of the written notice is that this
curriculum and schedule of instruction will be followed in the home
school.

Representative Lewellen's bill would also require that the notice
contain a written statement of assurance from the parent that a
"quality education will be provided to each home school student."
This establishes an unconstitutionally vague standard for parents,
because the term "quality education" is not defined anywhere in
Arkansas law. What one parent considers to be a quality education may
be entirely different from the standard held by another parent.
Additionally, it is conceivable that every public school
superintendent in Arkansas would have a different opinion about what
constitutes a "quality education." Further, no educational system can
guarantee that its students will receive a quality education.
Teachers can only provide instruction; they cannot guarantee that a
child will be educated. A child's ability, willingness to learn, and
study habits determine whether an education takes place.

To review a copy of the bill text, go to:
http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/ftproot/bills/2003/public/HB2518.pdf

Sincerely,

Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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