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Date:
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1/21/2004 3:23:44 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Tennessee--Mandatory State Testing of all Homeschool High School Students Threatened, Calls Needed!

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 21, 2004

Dear HSLDA members and friends,

If we act now, we may stop this bill mandating state testing of
homeschool high school from ever starting! Please take a moment and
make a few calls.

House Bill 2163, recently introduced by Representative Mike Turner,
would require all non-public high school students to take the Gateway
end-of-course tests in order to graduate from high school. This bill
would not only mandate testing of all homeschool and church-related
high school students but would also effectively require them to
conform their curriculum to match that of the public schools.

This bill must be defeated before it gains any momentum. It is
crucial that you contact Representative Turner and your own state
representative to express your opposition to this legislation.


REQUESTED ACTION

1. Please contact Representative Turner, the sponsor of this bill,
and explain,

"Please withdraw H.B. 2163. This bill will require unnecessary
testing of homeschool and private school students and violate the
rights of parents to choose the curriculum they consider best for
their own children."

2. Please contact your state representative with this message:

"Please vote against House Bill 2163 which would require unnecessary
testing and violate the rights of parents to choose the curriculum
they consider best for their own children."

A letter is a very effective means of influencing legislators. If you
choose not to write, please call and email the representative. He
needs to hear from every homeschooling family in Tennessee.

Representative Mike Turner, 615-741-3229
108 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243

3. Please forward this E-lert to every homeschooling family you know
who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact the sponsor and
their own state representative.

To get the name of your state representative, use HSLDA's Legislative
Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox. If you do not have Internet
access, call the Tennessee Legislature at 800-449-8366.

BACKGROUND:

This bill is a grave threat to the freedoms of homeschooling parents
in Tennessee. The Gateway end-of-course tests are referenced to the
curriculum used in the public schools. In fact, when the law
requiring end-of-course tests was first passed, the Tennessee
Legislature stated that "These tests must reflect the complete range
of topics covered within the list of state approved textbooks for
that subject." Therefore, if this bill becomes law, parents
conducting home instruction will be forced to use public school
textbooks for the high school years in order to effectively prepare
for the end-of-course tests.

In August, 2002, the State Board stipulated that students must
successfully pass examinations in three subject areas-- Mathematics,
Science, and Language Arts - in order to earn a high school diploma.
These examinations are now known as Gateway Tests. The passage of
House Bill 2163 would mean that homeschool and private school
students would also be under this requirement, and would have to take
the Algebra I, Biology I, and English II Gateway tests in order to
graduate.

Currently, only eight states require testing as the only means of
evaluating a home instruction program, and no state requires
homeschool students to be tested on state content standards.
Furthermore, studies have shown that increased state oversight of
homeschooling does not result in higher academic achievement.

Another problem with enactment of this legislation is that it will
result in a violation of federal law, since it will require
homeschool students to take the same tests by which the state
complies with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left
Behind Act of 2001. Among other things, this federal law requires
states to test public school students in the areas of mathematics,
reading or language arts, and science at certain grade levels in
order to measure their achievement of state academic content and
achievement standards. However, HSLDA added into this federal law a
provision which specifically excludes homeschools from the testing
requirement:

"Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect a home school,
whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or a private
school under State law, nor shall any student schooled at home be
required to participate in any assessment referenced in this
chapter."

Representative Turner's effort to include homeschool students in the
state assessments will place Tennessee in violation of federal law
and should result in the loss of all federal funding for education.

To review a copy of the bill text, go to:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=1275

To review a copy of a memorandum on the No Child Left Behind Act of
2001, go to: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=1276


Sincerely,

Chris Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel



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