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4/8/2003 1:57:25 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Hampshire--Calls Needed, Vote Thursday on Compulsory Attendance Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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April 8, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

On April 10 the New Hampshire Senate may take final action on Senate
Bill No. 55, which would raise the age of compulsory school
attendance from 16 to 18 years of age.

ACTION REQUESTED

1. Call your Senator and express your opposition to S.B. 55. Visit
www.hslda.org/toolbox and enter your zip code to find the name and
contact information for your state senator. You can also call the
Senate Clerk's Office at 603-271-3420 for this information.

Your message to your senator can be as simple as:

"I urge you to vote against S.B. 55, which would raise the age of
compulsory attendance. It undermines the power of parents to decide
what is best for their children. It wastes taxpayers' money.
Statistics show that compelling 16 and 17 year olds to attend school
does not improve graduation rates."

Remember that this bill affects all people, not just homeschoolers,
so it is not necessary for you to identify yourself as a
homeschooler.

2. Read the "Background" section below to understand why
homeschoolers are not "exempted" from the bill as some may claim.

3. Pass this on to others. S.B. 55 would affect all parents, not
just those who homeschool.

BACKGROUND

On March 20, the full Senate took up S.B. 55, amended it, and then
referred it to the Finance Committee because of its anticipated
financial impact. (The amendment is discussed below.)

The Finance Committee considered the bill and voted it "inexpedient
to legislate" and sent it back to the Senate where we anticipate
final action on April 10.

The amendment the Senate added before sending the bill to the finance
committee is an ineffective attempt to exempt homeschoolers from the
higher age of compulsory attendance. The senate presumably hoped that
if homeschoolers were exempted, they would stop opposing the bill,
and the way would be open to impose the higher attendance age on
everyone else.

The Senate's amendment to S.B. 55 states:

"The provisions of this act shall not apply to children who are
homeschooled pursuant to a home education plan established under RSA
193-A. The provisions of this act shall not be construed to alter,
modify, or affect in any way the provisions of RSA 193-A."

The reason this language fails to exempt homeschoolers is that only a
"child" can be under a home education plan under RSA 193-A, and
"child" is defined under 193-A:1.I as someone under 16. As soon as a
child turns 16, he cannot by law be under a home education plan under
RSA 193-A. Therefore, the senate's amendment only exempts those
under 16, who do not even need the exemption!

Furthermore, even if the age problem were resolved, the exemption
would still only benefit those being homeschooled in compliance with
("pursuant to") RSA 193-A. This is tantamount to saying,
illogically, that you will be exempted from the law as soon as you
comply with it.

A principal advantage of keeping the compulsory age at 16 is that
parents have complete liberty after a child reaches that age to
decide what is best for the child, whether to enter a vocational
path, continue their secondary education, move forward to college
education, or some other alternative. Under the Senate's amendment,
homeschool families would still be required to comply with Chapter
193-A even after their child was 16 or 17.

Even if the amendment exempted students who were in a homeschool
program prior to reaching age 16, we would still oppose the bill. We
do not believe any such special exemption would last long. Such
exemptions could be subject to court challenge. Also, once every
private and public student in the state is subject to the higher
compulsory attendance age, it would be easy for a special exemption
just for homeschoolers to be criticized and subsequently removed.

In response to highly effective homeschool opposition to raising ages
of compulsory attendance across the country, we are seeing a growing
trend for state lawmakers to "exempt" homeschoolers from higher
compulsory attendance ages. We oppose bills that take away parental
freedoms even if they seem to create a special exception for
homeschoolers.

For other reasons HSLDA opposes this bill, visit our website at:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=785

Thank you for standing with us to protect liberty by preventing this
bill from becoming law.

Sincerely,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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