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5/12/2004 5:43:07 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Missouri--Urgent: Calls Needed to Defeat Compulsory Attendance Increase

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 12, 2004


Missouri--Urgent: Calls Needed to Defeat Compulsory Attendance
Increase


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Despite many calls from parents, the House amended Senate Bill 968 to
allow the St. Louis school system to raise the age of compulsory
attendance from 16 to 17. Your help is urgently needed to stop this
expansion of government control over children.

You may be told this bill is needed to comply with the order of a
federal judge requiring St. Louis to reduce the number of dropouts.
This bill will not solve the problem the judge is concerned about.
Oregon compels attendance to age 18, but has the lowest high school
completion rate in the country. Maryland and North Dakota have the
highest completion rates in the nation, but they compel attendance
only to age 16! Forcing unwilling students to stay cooped up in a
classroom one more year will not reduce the dropout rate.

Graduation is not a matter of "doing time"--it is a matter of
learning. If a student is not learning in the classroom, staying
there one more year does no one any good--and raises everyone's taxes.


ACTION REQUESTED

1. Call your both your Senator and your Representative and courteously
express your opposition. This amendment affects all parents, so it is
not necessary to identify yourself as a homeschooler. Your message can
be as simple as:

"I urge you to vote against SB 968, or any other bill, to allow a
metropolitan school district to raise the age of compulsory
attendance. It will waste taxpayers' money. Statistics show that
forcing older teenagers to attend school does not improve graduation
rates."

Go to our legislative toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox to find
out who your Senator and Representative is and to find their phone
number.

2. Calling your Senator and Representative is especially important if
you live in the St Louis area, since this bill is being proposed as a
"favor" to St. Louis legislators. If you live in the St. Louis area
and can convince your Senator and Representative to oppose the bill,
it smashes the myth that people in St. Louis want this bill.

3. Calling your Senator is also especially important if they are on
the conference committee currently considering the bill. The Senators
on the committee are:

Matt Bartle - (573) 751-1464
Harold Caskey - (573) 751-4116
Bill Foster - ( Majority Caucus Chair, R) - (573) 751-3859
Steve Stoll - (573) 751-1492
Charlie Shields - (573) 751-9476

4. Pass this on to others. And pray!


BACKGROUND

1. Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout
rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion
rates (Maryland, 94.5% and North Dakota, 94.7%) compel attendance only
to age 16, but the state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon,
75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three year averages,
1996 through 1998.)

2. Most states (29) only require attendance to age 16. Older children
who are unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even
violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want
to learn.

3. When California raised the age of compulsory attendance, unwilling
students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to
handle them and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the
taxpayer.

4. The amendment would restrict parents' freedom to decide if their
older teenager is ready for college or the workforce. Some 16 year
olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work
experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.

5. A 16 year old homeschool student would still be obligated to enroll
in and "attend regularly" a homeschool as defined by law for the
entire school term (but the 16 year old's parents would not be
required to keep records or provide 1,000 hours of instruction).

Failure to do so could mean criminal or civil punishment for the
homeschooling family in St Louis--and the rest of the state, if it
spreads.

6. If you speak to someone who thinks homeschoolers are exempt, you
can explain to them that if the amendment is adopted, Statutes of
Missouri section 167.031.1 will read:

"A parent ... of a child between seven years of age and the compulsory
attendance age for the district shall cause the child to attend
regularly some public, private, parochial, parish, homeschool or a
combination of such schools not less than the entire school term of
the school which the child attends ... ."

Thank you for working to protect freedom by taking advantage of every
opportunity for a victory!


Sincerely,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney




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