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10/20/2006 11:54:06 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Nebraska--Action Needed to Oppose Constitutional Amendment 5

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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October 20, 2006

Nebraska--Action Needed to Oppose Constitutional Amendment 5

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

On November 7, Nebraska voters will be asked to vote on six proposed
constitutional amendments to the Nebraska State Constitution. We are
particularly concerned with Amendment 5 and believe it needs to be
defeated.

Amendment 5 would allow for the creation of a $60 million fund for
expenditures on early education programs.

The amendment would also "define" early education in the Constitution
as "programs operated by or distributed through the development and
learning for children from birth to kindergarten-entrance age."

Amendment 5 drastically increases Nebraska's spending on early
education programs and demonstrates an effort to put very young
children into the public education system and will result in higher
taxes on the citizens of Nebraska. This strategy is increasingly used
by proponents of lowering the compulsory attendance age to create
programs, funding, and momentum for education of children at or below
kindergarten ages.

It is only a matter of time before these "voluntary" programs could
become "mandatory". Mandatory programs effectively lower the
compulsory attendance age and would increase the number of years that
homeschool parents have to file with the Nebraska Department of
Education, ultimately decreasing parents' freedom to direct their
children's education.

Such mandatory programs also intrude in the area of parents' rights
and have been shown by studies to be harmful to such young children.
Some have appropriately described these types of programs as
"government-funded babysitting".

Please help us oppose Amendment 5.

ACTION REQUESTED:

1) Vote against Amendment 5 at the polls November 7.

2) Please write to local and state newspaper editors in opposition to
Amendment 5.

3) Please listen for and call into radio programs discussing Amendment
5.

4) Please share this opinion with friends, neighbors, and fellow
homeschoolers.

Please convey the following message in your own words:

"I oppose Amendment 5 because it will waste taxpayer money and erode
parental authority to direct their children's education. Studies have
shown that attendance at preschool programs, even for short periods of
time, places unnecessary stress on children, adversely impacts their
academic abilities, and hinders their social development. Most
studies have shown that any educational gains from early education
programs are lost by the 3rd grade."

You need not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead, you can
identify yourself as a concerned parent and taxpayer.

The Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association (NCHEA) supports
this position and encourages members to support the recommended
actions.

BACKGROUND:

> Amendment 5 creates a $60 million fund for early childhood care and
education. Proponents claim that this will have a long-term positive
impact on children's development. While the bill purports to make
these programs optional, history shows us that there will be
subsequent pressure to make them mandatory, universal, and funded with
taxpayer dollars.

> Making these programs mandatory effectively lowers the compulsory
attendance age, which erodes parental authority and disregards that
parents are in the best position to determine when their children's
formal education should begin.

> Expanding the compulsory attendance age would inevitably increase
taxes to pay for more classroom space and teachers for additional
students. If the compulsory attendance age is lowered, more schools
will need to be built to accommodate the extra students.

> Most studies have shown that any educational gain made by placing
young children in either school or early educational type programs is
lost by the 3rd grade.

> Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child's
formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor
scholastic performance later. David Elkind, Ph.D., a professor of
child development at Tufts University, points out that "When we
instruct children in academic subjects . . . at too early an age, we
miseducate them; we put them at risk for short-term stress and
long-term personality damage . . . . There is no evidence that such
early instruction has lasting benefits, and considerable evidence that
it can do lasting harm."

> A 2005 study conducted by Stanford University and the University of
California found attendance at preschool programs hindered young
children's social skills. This study reported that "attendance in
preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders
the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the
motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their
kindergarten teachers." The negative behavior that was demonstrated
by this study included "children's externalizing behaviors (such as,
aggression, bullying, acting up), interpersonal skills (such as,
sharing and cooperation), and self-control in engaging classroom
tasks."

To read the proposed constitutional amendments please see:
http://www.sos.state.ne.us/elec/pdf/const_amd_gen_elect2006.pdf

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our
memorandum at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=2791 .

Additional information on this topic can be found at
http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/Issues/E/ECE_BG_US_041220_1.pdf and
http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/Issues/E/Early_Education.asp

If you are not yet a member of HSLDA and would like to help us fight
for greater homeschool freedom in Nebraska, please visit
http://www.hslda.org/join/apply.asp .

Thank you for your part in fighting for freedom in Nebraska.

Sincerely,


Michael P. Donnelly
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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