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5/10/2004 5:53:46 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
South Carolina--Calls Needed to House Committee - Back Door Attack on Homeschooling

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 10, 2004


South Carolina--Calls Needed to House Committee - Back Door Attack on
Homeschooling


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Your calls are needed to stop a bill which will harm homeschoolers.
This bill surprised everyone by passing the South Carolina Senate on
April 29, 2004.

Senate Bill 988 is a back door approach to raising the compulsory
attendance age, controlling the curriculum of homeschoolers, and
creating academic evaluations of homeschool students. This amounts to
nothing more than a frontal attack on the freedoms of home educators
in South Carolina.

This bill would require school attendance for any person under 18 who
was issued a beginner's permit, conditional driver's license, special
restricted driver's license, or a regular driver's license. Exempted
from this requirement would be persons under 18 who already had a high
school diploma or General Education Development (GED) diploma. This
bill would effectively raise the compulsory attendance age from 17 to
18 for all students who want to obtain a driver's license.

Additionally, a student in a homeschool would have to be making
satisfactory progress in a curriculum leading to a GED diploma in
order to obtain the driver's license. Since a GED program is intended
for high school dropouts, it appears that few, if any, homeschool
students could meet this requirement. Further, the Department of Motor
Vehicles would not issue a driver's license unless a school official
or homeschool association first determined that the student was making
satisfactory academic progress toward the GED diploma.

This bill is now being considered by the House Committee on Education
and Public Works. It received its first reading in this Committee on
May 4, 2004. It must be stopped before it goes further.

Requested Action:

1. Please contact as many members as possible of the House Education
and Public Works Committee and your own state representative with this
message:

"Please vote against Senate Bill 988. This bill would require
homeschool students to enroll in a GED curriculum for dropouts in
order to get a driver's license. Additionally, this bill would impose
unnecessary and additional academic evaluations on homeschool students
beyond what is now required by the homeschool law."

Members of the House Education and Public Works Committee:

Representative Ronald Townsend, Chairman,
(803) 734-3053

Representative Kenneth Clark,
(803) 734-2965

Representative Joel Lourie,
(803) 734-2960

Representative Bessie Moody-Lawrence,
(803) 734-3029

Representative Phillip Owens,
(803) 734-3237

Representative Donald Smith,
(803) 734-3031

Representative Robert Walker,
(803) 734-3010

Representative JoAnne Gilham,
(803) 734-2977

Representative Becky Martin,
(803) 734-2964

Representative James Neal,
(803) 734-2976

Representative Lewis Pinson,
(803) 734-2821

Representative Harry Stille,
(803) 734-3066

Representative Jesse Hines,
(803) 734-3003

Representative Walter Lloyd,
(803) 734-3064

Representative Vida Miller,
(803) 734-2957

Representative Joseph Neal,
(803) 734-2804

Representative B. R. Skelton,
(803) 734-3323

Representative William Whitmire,
(803) 734-3009

2. Please forward this e-mail to every homeschooling family you know
who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact the legislators
above.

You can find the name and telephone number of your state
representative by using Home School Legal Defense Association's
Legislative Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox

Background:

This bill was first introduced in the South Carolina Senate on
February 19, 2004 and is sponsored by the Transportation Committee.
Since that time, HSLDA has worked with state leaders who have
contacted key Senators and officials at the Department of Education in
an effort to defeat this bill. Since this bill had been placed on the
contested calendar, it was thought to be effectively dead for this
legislative session. However, to our surprise, the Senate passed this
bill on April 29, 2004.

HSLDA has long opposed any legislation which would connect issuance of
a driver's license to school attendance. Not only does Senate Bill 988
do this, but it also requires school attendance until age 18. The
compulsory attendance law in South Carolina requires attendance until
age 17, so this bill would effectively increase the compulsory
attendance age from 17 to 18 for all persons who wish to have a
driver's license. The only good news in this bill is that current law
is kept intact which exempts persons who have a high school diploma or
a GED diploma, even though they are not yet 18.

In all likelihood, the intent of the sponsors is to require students
to remain in school in pursuit of a high school diploma or GED.
Unfortunately, the wording of the bill requires all homeschool
students and possibly even public and private school students to be
making satisfactory progress in a curriculum leading to the GED
diploma. This is completely unacceptable and inappropriate for the
vast majority of homeschool students who are working toward a high
school diploma. Even language requiring homeschool students to be
pursuing a high school diploma would not make this bill acceptable.

The language of the bill requires that the "appropriate school
official or homeschool association" provide documentation of
enrollment status and academic progress on a form approved by the
Department of Education. It is unclear who the "appropriate school
official" would be for homeschool programs conducted through the
school district, but this could be interpreted to mean the local
public school superintendent instead of the parent. Students in the
South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS) and
other homeschool associations would have to be evaluated by these
associations.

Currently, the homeschool law does not require such evaluations by
these associations, and the bill being considered does not provide
standards or guidelines for determining whether a student is making
satisfactory progress in a curriculum. Inevitably, school districts
and homeschool associations will be applying different standards for
satisfactory progress if this bill becomes law. Needless to say, we do
not want this bill to be "fixed" by including specific academic
standards which must be met by every student before a driver's license
could be issued.

To view a copy of the text of House Bill 988, go to
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=1512

Please call now!


Sincerely,

Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel




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