From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


8/12/2004 9:59:33 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Calls Needed - To Stop California from Lowering the Compulsory Attendance Age

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

HSLDA is asking you to take action on this Alert from Roy Hanson and
Jim Davis of Family Protection Ministries (FPM). It is being issued
in California jointly by FPM and HSLDA. We have worked closely with
FPM to develop both the language and the strategy for this alert.

Roy Hanson's HELP Tree ALERT August 11, 2004
Private and Home Educators of California

Bill: SB 550 (As Drafted 7/16/04, Not in print) - 5 Year-Old
Compulsory Education
Author: State Senator John Vasconcellos

Position: Strongly OPPOSE
Status: SB 550 could be voted on by the Legislature anytime before
September 1.

Summary of Concerns: SB 550 will lower the compulsory school age from
6 to 5. The 7/16/04 draft language for SB 550 says, "It is the intent
of the Legislature that each person aged 5 years not exempted under
this chapter or Chapter 3... shall be subject to compulsory full-time
education." This draft language is the basis for what the conference
committee on the California Master Plan for Education will amend into
SB 550, requiring all 5-year-olds to attend a school.

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Information Included In This E-mail:

A. Action Items
B. Background Information
C. Reasons for Opposition

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A. Action Items:

1. CALL your own State Senator and Assemblymember and ask them to
"Please vote no on the provision which would lower the compulsory
education from age 6 to 5 in SB 550, or in any other bill into which
this provision might be amended."

You can find your state legislators, their phone numbers, addresses,
and other contact information by entering your 9 digit ZIP code or
physical address in our Legislative Toolbox. If you are unable to
locate your legislator using our web site, call your county elections,
voter registration, or registrar of voters office.

2. CALL the author, State Senator John Vasconcellos at 916-445-9740 as
soon as possible. Ask him to "Please drop Section 6 on page 2 of the
draft of SB 550 that calls for lowering the age of compulsory
education from 6 to 5 years of age."

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* Call as a concerned parent and citizen. This bill affects all
families with young children.
* For these calls, you can use one or more of the Reasons for
Opposition stated below, but this is not necessary.
* Because e-mails are easily ignored, calls are significantly more
* KEEP this Alert as a reference for future HELP Tree Alerts.
* Reprint or forward this to your friends, church, school, and group.
* Pray for a proper outcome.

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B. Background Information:

SB 550 will lower the compulsory attendance age for entry into school
from 6 to 5 years of age. This requirement will apply to all
children, whether their parents plan to send them to public school or
private school (including private home schools).

SB 550 is one of 5 bills for which new proposed language was recently
drafted and will be used by the conference committee as the basis for
the final language of these bills.

Section 6 of the SB 550 draft states, "It is the intent of the
Legislature that each person aged 5 years not exempted under this
chapter or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 48400) shall be subject
to compulsory full-time education."

Universally available preschool for 3 and 4 year-olds is proposed in
AB 56, which is also one of the five bills being considered by the
conference committee. The National Education Association's goal, as
stated in their 2000-2001 Resolution B-1, is to establish early
childhood education programs for children starting at birth. If SB
550 passes, it could easily be followed by legislation to lower the
compulsory education age down to 3 years, as was attempted in
Washington D.C. schools in 2001-2002.

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C. Reasons for Opposition:

1. SB 550 forces children into school too soon. There are no
long-term replicable studies proving that mandating attendance at age
5 rather than 6 is better for the educational development of the
child. To the contrary, there is much research indicating that early
childhood education does not improve the child's potential for being a
better student in the future, because early gains disappear in a few
years. This is especially significant for boys, because their
cognitive and verbal skill development generally lags behind that of
girls at this age.

2. SB 550 is not necessary. According to the Assembly Education
Committee, 91-95% of all children of kindergarten age already attend
public or private kindergarten. Parents who desire to enroll their
children at age 5 in California can choose to do so already. In
September 2002, Governor Davis vetoed a similar bill, AB 634, and
stated, "I am concerned that this bill would unduly restrict a
parent's or guardian's education choices for their children. I
believe parents should retain the right to choose an education program
for their 5-year old children."

3. SB 550 decreases beneficial parental contact with their children.
An extra year of development outside of school can be critical for a
child at this early age. Carl Zinsmeister, Adjunct Research Associate
at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, says,
"Declining parental attachment is an extremely serious risk to
children today. The verdict of enormous psychological literature is
that time spent with the parent is the very clearest correlate of
healthy child development." Parents should continue to have the
authority to decide what is best for their children.

4. SB 550 is based on faulty information. This attempt to bring
children into formal education programs at a younger age is based on
an erroneous assumption. Arthur Jensen, a learning psychologist,
wrote in the Harvard Educational Review in 1969 that Benjamin Bloom's
conclusion that people develop 50% of their mature intelligence by the
age of 4 is a statistically unwarranted conclusion. In 1970, Nancy
Bayley, a University of California child psychologist whose data Bloom
used, pointed out that Bloom's theory was wrong because it was based
on an inadequate definition of intelligence. In spite of statements
to the contrary, there is no solid evidence that early education
brings any lasting or permanent educational benefit to a child. The
conclusions being drawn based on recent studies of child's brain
development are similar to the above faulty conclusions. The fact
that a young child's brain develops rapidly does not warrant the
faulty conclusion that more institutionalized and peer-dominated
settings improve the child's mental, emotional, and social
development. There are studies that have demonstrated the opposite.

5. SB 550 would have an adverse financial impact on all Californians.
California's current facility and teacher shortage crisis would be
made worse as a result of an influx of some 20,000 to 40,000 new
children being forced to enter public kindergarten. This increase in
the kindergarten population will also increase the financial burden on
the state's ability to fund its public education programs. This will
result in the need to increase state education revenues. Increases in
education revenues come either as direct increases in taxes from
California citizens; approving and selling bonds, which moves the tax
burden to future generations; or transferring funds from another part
of the State budget.

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Family Protection Ministries (FPM) is coordinating work at the capitol
in Sacramento through meetings with legislators and other parties, and
testifying in committee hearings. We are providing written testimony
to all of the committee members. We ask our members to coordinate all
verbal testimony at any hearing through Roy and Jim by calling them at
916-786-3523. This is necessary to ensure that adequate time is
available for testimony from key witnesses. FPM will be at any and
all hearings on this bill as they routinely testify on any legislation
that might be of concern to the private homeschool community. We and
FPM jointly continue to monitor this and all other legislation of
significance to private homeschoolers in California.

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Roy Hanson's Home Educators Legislative Phone Tree
Private & Home Educators of California
P.O. Box 730
Lincoln, CA 95648-0730
Fax: (916) 415-9470

HELP Tree Director
P.O. Box 100
Somerset, CA 95684-0100
Fax: (530) 622-4717
DISCLAIMER: This is considered a private and confidential message to
HELP Tree Members only. We are not responsible for the accuracy of
copies printed, forwarded, or sent by any party other than directly
from Private & Home Educators of California.

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