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5/13/2004 5:36:32 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Jersey--Urgent: Calls and Visits Needed Immediately to Keep Homeschooling Free

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 13, 2004


New Jersey--Urgent: Calls and Visits Needed Immediately to Keep
Homeschooling Free


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Bill A1918 has been rescheduled for a hearing before the Assembly
Education Committee this Monday, May 17, at 2:00 p.m.

Bill A1918 would force homeschool children to take the same
curriculum-based statewide assessments as public school children, give
private medical information to local public school systems, and give
the New Jersey State Board of Education virtually unlimited power to
impose additional restrictions.


ACTION REQUESTED:

1. Please call your Assemblypersons immediately and ask them to oppose
A1918. Your message can be as simple as,

"Please oppose A1918 and any amendment. This bill violates federal law
and will damage the fundamental parental rights of thousands of law
abiding families who homeschool in New Jersey. The law already
requires parents to give their children adequate medical care. The law
already requires homeschool parents to give their children an
equivalent education to the public school. Don't punish thousands of
parents for the failure of the Department of Youth and Family Services
to protect the Jackson children in Collingswood."

Keep in mind that your Assemblypersons may not yet be familiar with A
1918. Call even if your Assemblypersons are not on the committee, but
calling is especially important if they are on the committee (see list
below). Use our legislative toolbox to find your Assemblypersons'
names and phone numbers: http://www.hslda.org/toolbox

2. Make an appointment to meet in person with your Assemblypersons to
discuss the bill. Face to face meetings can be very powerful.

3. Come to Trenton and attend the hearing on Monday (the long range
forecast is for nice weather). An overwhelming turnout will send a
clear message to this committee. Parking may be a challenge, so plan
ahead and arrive well before the hearing is scheduled to begin. The
public hearing will be in the Statehouse Annex in Trenton.

I suggest you take a large, white, adhesive-backed address label and
write or (preferably) type, in large (18 or 20 point) black letters,
preferably Times New Roman font, "Homeschooling Works!" and wear this
as a tag on Monday. This will help unify our impact and distinguish us
from those who are there for other reasons.

I plan to testify in opposition to the bill. Several state
organizations are working together to defeat this bill: HSLDA, ENOCH,
Catholic Homeschoolers of New Jersey, New Jersey Homeschool
Association, the Unschoolers Network, Tricounty Home Educators, and
Eagle Forum. We are lining up a number of people to testify at the
hearing. We are also working to schedule a separate rally in the days
following the hearing.

4. Call other homeschoolers and encourage them to help us fight this
battle. We need every homeschooler. If the bill passes committee, the
full Assembly could vote on the bill within days. Check your email
frequently.

5. Pray. We are utterly dependent on God for a good outcome.

Assembly Education Committee Members and Contact Information:

Chairman Craig A. Stanley 973-399-1000

Patrick J. Diegnan 908-757-1677

David R. Mayer 609-298-6250

Robert Lewis Morgan 732-741-5599

Nellie Pou 973-247-1555

Joseph Vas 732-324-4955

Joan M. Voss 201-346-6400

The following legislators have expressed their opposition to the bill
and should not be called:

Dist. 1: Gibson

Dist. 2: Blee, Conover

Dist. 10: Wolfe

Dist. 14: Baroni

Dist. 16: Biondi

Dist. 23: Doherty

Dist. 24: Gregg, McHose

Dist. 25: Carroll, Merkt

Dist. 26: DeCroce, Pennacchio

Dist. 30: Dancer, Malone

Dist. 39: Vandervalk

Dist. 40: O'Toole


BACKGROUND:

Reasons to Oppose A1918:

1. Federal law prohibits states from requiring that homeschoolers take
a state assessment designed for public school students. New Jersey
would lose millions of dollars of federal funds if this bill is
enacted, since it violates this requirement.

2. State assessments test public school curriculum. Homeschool
children do not use the public school curriculum. It would be unfair
to test them on material they do not study.

3. Statistics show that higher regulation--such as mandatory testing--
does not help homeschool students. Studies show that homeschoolers
score 20 to 30 percentile points higher than others students. Forcing
them to take tests when their performance has already been proven is
senseless.

4. It would give the Board of Education power to define-and thus
entirely control--homeschooling. Parents could be transformed
overnight into criminal suspects by Board regulations that define
"homeschooling" in a way that prohibits them from doing what they have
been doing successfully for years.

5. Forcing families to prove their children have received a medical
examination is an invitation for the state to interfere in family
medical issues.

6. Neither public nor private school students are required to receive
annual medical examinations.

7. No other state requires an annual medical examination for
homeschoolers.

8. This bill is a knee-jerk reaction to the highly publicized case in
Collingswood where the Jackson family allegedly starved their
children. If true, the blame lies with DYFS. They were in the
family's home over 30 times and never noticed a nutrition problem.
DYFS should be punished, not homeschoolers. There is absolutely no
evidence that homeschool parents are more likely to neglect their
children than anyone else.

Thank you for rising to the challenge to defend homeschool freedom.


Sincerely,

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney




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