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3/9/2004 5:49:04 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Nebraska--Calls Needed Immediately to Stop Increased Control Over Homeschoolers!

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 9, 2004


Nebraska--Calls Needed Immediately to Stop Increased Control Over
Homeschoolers!


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

We need you to call your State Senator immediately to stop the
expansion of the state's control over your children by three more
years! If LB 868 passes, you will need to submit your homeschool
information to the state for your children ages 5, 17, and 18, in
addition to all the years in between.

We have been closely monitoring LB 868, which raises Nebraska's
compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18. Through a number of
conversations with Senator Redfield, we were able to withdraw our
opposition to that bill as amended.

Unfortunately, a new amendment to LB 868 fundamentally changes the
nature of this bill making it unacceptable. We need your help
immediately.


Action Requested:

1. Call your State Senator (go to http://www.hslda.org/toolbox to
look up your Senator's phone number) and say, "Please vote no on LB
868. It expands Nebraska's compulsory age by 25 percent and
significantly increases our taxes. It will force disruptive children
to stay in school hurting the education of those who want to learn.
It will also violate parents' rights to determine when their 5 year
old is ready for school."

You do not need to identify yourself as a homeschooler--simply as a
parent.


Background:

We e-mailed our member families in February regarding this bill,
urging your calls to defeat it. We also contacted Senator Pam
Redfield, of Omaha, to discuss our problems with the legislation.
Senator Redfield explained that at all times it has been her
intention to increase parental authority over teenage children by
giving parents, and only parents, the power to decide when their
children stop attending public school. By raising the compulsory
attendance age to 18, she hoped to give parents more control over
otherwise rebellious teens.

Senator Redfield's intentions were good, and she was willing to work
with homeschoolers to address our concerns. After some negotiations,
we agreed to Amendment 2598, which carefully protected the rights of
homeschoolers while permitting Senator Redfield to raise the
compulsory attendance age.

This bill was fundamentally changed when the Education Committee
adopted Amendment 2960. Amendment 2960 combines language in a
different bill, LB 934, with Senator Redfield's bill, LB 868. The
new language both raises the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18
and lowers it from 7 to 5 3/4. A child who turns 6 by January 1 must
attend school with this new language. The result is that Nebraska
goes from nine years of compulsory attendance to twelve years, an
increase of more than 25%.

We have contacted staff for each of the three Senators that sponsored
Amendment 2960 to explain HSLDA's problems with this new language.
One staff member argued that it has little affect on homeschoolers,
since you simply have to file your paperwork one year earlier. We
explained that homeschoolers objections to this bill go considerably
deeper than that. Under current law, homeschool records are not
protected by any privacy provisions. Every page of every homeschool
record maintained by the Nebraska Department of Education is a
"public document" that can be accessed at will under state law.
Expanding the compulsory attendance age by three years increases our
existing privacy invasions by 25% or more. Many families file a
sworn statement of religious objection to government controlled
education, which raises even greater privacy concerns. What a
legislative staff member sees as a minor intrusion upon liberty seems
much different to us.

This is a case where homeschoolers can and should speak out for the
rights of all Nebraska parents. Homeschoolers are free to choose
when they begin formal kindergarten instruction, but other parents
will be forced to put children who are not sufficiently mature into
kindergarten, despite their own better judgment. Amendment 2960
would use the power of the state to overrule these appropriate
parental choices. When you speak out for your family in opposing
this amendment, you speak for every Nebraska parent.

You also speak for Nebraska taxpayers. A bill that expands the
compulsory attendance age by three years will have a significant
impact on education spending. Under Nebraska rules, the legislature
does not prepare a fiscal impact statement on an amendment until
after it has been adopted. That means your Senator will be voting
for an amendment that could dramatically increase tax burdens without
any idea of the bottom line. Your call may be all that stands
between you and increased taxes.

Please forward this message to other concerned parents and taxpayers
in Nebraska. Urge them to call as quickly as possible. This
amendment will be voted on soon. Time is of the essence!


Sincerely,

Scott Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney



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