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5/17/2005 5:40:01 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Louisiana - Calls Needed to Help Reduce TOPS Discrimination

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 17, 2005


Louisiana - Calls Needed to Help Reduce TOPS Discrimination

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

House Bill 120 would reduce the current requirement that homeschool
students score three points higher than public school graduates on the
ACT college entrance exam in order to be eligible for the Louisiana
Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). A student who has
completed an approved home study program and was enrolled in the
program no later than the end of the 10th grade is eligible for TOPS
financial aid if they score 3 points higher than the total required
for public school students.

Under House Bill 120 a homeschool student would be eligible for TOPS
aid if they scored two points higher that the total required for
public school students. While we would like to completely remove this
discriminatory policy, this bill moves the TOPS eligibility
requirements in the right direction.

This bill has already been discussed in the House Committee on
Education and reported favorably. Now the bill has been sent to the
House Appropriations Committee and we need your calls to urge them to
pass this bill out of committee.

ACTION REQUESTED:

Please contact the members of the House Appropriations Committee
listed below with this message:

"Please vote in favor of House Bill 120. Currently homeschool students
must score three points higher than public school students on the ACT
in order to be eligible for TOPS. This is discriminatory and must
eventually be stopped."

House Appropriations Committee Members

Representative John A. Alario, Jr.
(504)340-2221

Representative Donald J.Cazayoux, Jr.
(225)638-8725
larep18@legis.state.la.us

Representative Charlie DeWitt
(318)442-1513
larep025@legis.state.la.us

Representative Yvonne Dorsey
(225)342-9700
larep067@legis.state.la.us

Representative Cedric B.Glover
(318)226-5665
larep004@legis.state.la.us

Representative Cheryl A. Gray
(504)568-2098
larep098@legis.state.la.us

Representative Elcie J Guillory
(337)491-2320
larep034@legis.state.la.us

Representative Roy Hopkins
(318)227-2003
larep001@legis.state.la.us

Representative Willie Hunter, Jr.
(318)362-5492
larep017@legis.state.la.us

Representative Michael Jackson
(225)342-0774
larep061@legis.state.la.us

Representative Jalila Jefferson-Bullock
(504)896-1478
larep091@legis.state.la.us

Representative Eric LaFleur
(337)363-5019
larep038@legis.state.la.us

Representative Charles McDonald
(318)281-8121
larep014@legis.state.la.us

Representative Thomas H. McVea
(225)634-7470
larep062@legis.state.la.us

Representative Dan W. Morrish
(337)824-3979
larep037@legis.state.la.us


Representative Joe R. Salter
(800)259-4135
larep024@legis.state.la.us

Representative Steve Scalise
(504) 888-9899
sscalise@legis.state.la.us

Representative Jack D. Smith
(337)828-7778
webreps@legis.state.la.us (Please include "Rep Jack D. Smith" in
subject line)

Representative John R. Smith
(800)259-2709
larep030@legis.state.la.us

Representative Francis C. Thompson
(318)878-9408
larep019@legis.state.la.us

Representative Warren J.Triche, Jr.
(985)447-0999
webreps@legis.state.la.us (Please include "Rep Warren J.Triche, Jr."
in subject line)

BACKGROUND:

The Louisiana state financial aid program, TOPS, has been open to
homeschool students who have been enrolled in an approved home study
program since the end of their 10th grade year. However, in order for
a homeschool graduate to receive any TOPS aid they must score at least
three points higher on the ACT that the minimum score required for
public school students.

Currently the minimum ACT scores a public school student is required
to receive to be eligible for TOPS are:

(1) For a TOPS-Tech award - 17,
(2) For an Opportunity Award - 20,
(3) For a Performance Award - 23,
(4) For an Honors Award - 27.


While HSLDA is neutral on bills that would provide government benefits
to homeschoolers we oppose discrimination against homeschoolers.
Since Louisiana already provides TOPS funding to students in
homeschools HSLDA maintains that the three point difference between
public school and homeschool students is discriminatory. We cannot
stand by while Louisiana discriminates in such a blatant manner.

All Louisiana homeschoolers need to stand together for freedom,
whether they choose the private school or approved home study option.
In our opinion, reducing or eliminating the three point penalty for
approved home study programs would not create a significant risk of
increased regulation for families who choose the private school
option.

Sincerely,


Thomas J. Schmidt, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney


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