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Date:
From:
Subject:

1/27/2005 5:00:28 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Homeschool Freedom Threatened in Montana

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 27, 2005


Homeschool Freedom Threatended in Montana


Dear HSLDA members and friends,

Senate Bill 291 introduced by Senator Don Ryan (D-SD 22) represents
the greatest threat to homeschool freedom ever in Montana!

Senate Bill 291 would make the following restrictive changes in the
law:

- Require that parents be (a) licensed to teach in Montana, (b) hold a
bachelor's degree, or (c) have a high school diploma or GED and be
monitored by a state-certified teacher for two years;

- Require homeschool students in grades 4, 8, and 11 to take the same
"nationally standardized examination" required of public school
students;

- Prohibit the homeschooling of children determined to have a
developmental disability, such as autism or Down's syndrome

- Change the definition of "home school" to exclude stepparents and
legal guardians from being able to teach a child at home;

- Require parents to register their children with the local school
district instead of notifying the county superintendent of the child's
enrollment in a homeschool;

- Require the monitor to evaluate and report the child's academic
progress to the school district twice a year;

- Require that students scoring below the 30th percentile on the test
be evaluated for special education services.

This bill must be defeated before it gains any momentum.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Ryan, is Chairman of the Senate
Education Committee and has a great deal of power in the
Democrat-controlled Senate. He introduced a bill last year which would
have mandated state testing for homeschoolers. Due to your actions
this legislation failed, but the new political environment has
Democrats in control of the Senate, House of Representatives and the
Governor's Office.

We are in for a real battle! It is crucial that you contact members of
the Senate Education Committee as well as your own state senator to
express your opposition to this bill.

This bill will probably be heard by the Senate Education Committee
next week, possibly as early as Monday. Time is of the essence!


ACTION REQUESTED

1. Please contact the members of the Senate Education Committee listed
below and your own state senator with this message:

"Please vote against Senate Bill 291 which would impose oppressive and
unnecessary restrictions on homeschooling families. This bill would
require parents to be monitored in their home by a certified teacher,
prohibit parents from homeschooling children with developmental
disabilities such as Down's syndrome and autism, and add many other
onerous regulations on homeschooling families. Vote for freedom by
voting against Senate Bill 291."

A letter is the most effective means of influencing legislators. If
you choose not to write, please call and e-mail the state senators.
They need to hear from every homeschooling family in Montana.

Senate Education Committee

Don Ryan (D) - Chair
(406) 761-3261
SENATORDONRYAN@MSN.COM

Gregory Barkus (R)
(406) 755-8362
GBARKUS@DADCO.COM

Jerry Black (R)
(406) 434-5363
BLACKS@3RIVERS.NET

Jim Elliot (D)
(406) 8273671
JIM@JIMELLIOTT.ORG

Kim Gillan (D)
(406) 248-6063
GLONKY@AOL.COM

Bob Hawks (D)
(406) 587-1403
Online Message at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2054

Sam Kitzenberg (R)
(406) 228-8518
SAM@KITZENBERG.NET

Jesse Laslovich (D)
(406) 563-3141
JESSELAZ@YAHOO.COM

Jeff Mangan (D)
(406)452-6966
JMANGAN@MOUNTAINPEAKSINC.COM

Daniel McGee (R)
(406) 628-6534
Online Message at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2054

Robert Story (R)
(406) 633-2746
Online Message at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2054

You can call any of the Senators listed above at:
(406) 444-3064 (Montana Legislature)

You can write to any of the Senators listed above at:

Senator (Insert Name)
Montana Senate
P.O. Box 200500
Helena, MT 59620-0500

2. Please forward this E-lert to every homeschooling family you know
who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact the Committee
members and their own state senator.

To find the name of your state senator, use HSLDA's Legislative
Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2055 . If you do not have
Internet access, call the Montana Legislature at (406) 444-3064.


REASONS WE OPPOSE S.B. 291

- State testing would be imposed on homeschool students for the first
time in the history of homeschooling in Montana

- Only eight states require testing as the only means of evaluating a
home instruction program, and no state requires homeschool students to
be tested on state content standards.

- Studies have shown that increased state oversight of homeschooling
does not result in higher academic achievement.

- Enactment of this legislation may result in a violation of the
federal law if homeschool students are required to take the same tests
by which the state complies with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

- Forty-six states, including Montana, now permit persons other than
biological parents to teach a child at home.

- By requiring homeschool students to register in public school, they
may be considered public school students, thereby entitling the school
district to receive state funds for homeschool students.

- Only North Dakota requires parents with a high school diploma or GED
to be monitored by a state certified teacher, and only nine states
even require that the parent have a high school diploma or GED.

- There is no educational basis for requiring a student scoring below
the 30th percentile on a standardized achievement test to be evaluated
for a learning disability, especially in light of the fact that the
average range is from the 23rd through the 76th percentile.

- Only North Dakota currently prohibits the homeschooling of children
with developmental disabilities, an unconstitutional law violating the
right of parents to direct the education of their children.


BACKGROUND

There have been unverified reports in Montana over the past several
years that there are some homeschooling families who are not teaching
their children properly. Instead of enforcing the existing truancy
laws against families in violation of the law, Senate Bill 291
represents another effort to impose oppressive restrictions on all
homeschooling families. A similar effort was made by Senator Ryan, the
sponsor of this bill, during the 2003 legislative session when he
introduced a bill that would have imposed state testing on homeschool
students. That proposal was soundly defeated, but the political
climate is a lot different in Montana now with the Democrats in power.

This is the worst homeschool bill seeking to make changes in existing
law in any state. We must fight hard to defeat bills that would take
away the precious freedoms enjoyed by homeschoolers.

To review a copy of the bill text, go to:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2056

To review a copy of Chris Klicka's memorandum on the No Child Left
Behind Act of 2001, go to:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2057

Please contact these Senators today!

Sincerely,


Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel



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