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1/16/2007 1:08:23 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Wyoming--Calls Needed to Oppose Compulsory Attendance Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 16, 2007

Wyoming--Calls Needed to Oppose Compulsory Attendance Bill

Dear HSLDA members and friends,

House Bill 129 has been introduced to raise compulsory attendance in
Wyoming to age 18. The bill is sponsored by House Education Committee
Chairman Del McOmie, Representative Debbie Hammons, and Senator Henry
"Hank" Coe.

If passed, House Bill 129 would raise the compulsory attendance
requirements from age 16 to age 18 and from 10th grade to 12th grade,
effective September 15, 2009. The effect of this bill would be to
require two additional years of notification by homeschoolers.

A child may be exempted from the new requirement if the child's
parent, guardian, or custodian notifies the school district before
September 15 that the child will not be attending a public or private
school during that school year. Further, with the notification, the
parent or guardian MUST certify in writing that he or she understands
that the child will not receive a diploma from a public or private
high school that year AND MUST document through required and/or
state-approved testing or assessment that the student has demonstrated
proficiency or equivalent competency in reading, writing, and math at
the 11th grade level.

Such a scheme would require homeschooled families who wish to be
exempted from the new law to submit to government-directed testing, or
to approval of an alternate testing plan. Today, many homeschool
families graduate their children from homeschool programs to enroll
them in college or apprenticeship programs. Today, parents have the
authority to determine whether their children continue in formal
secondary education after the age of 16--this right must be preserved.


While documenting 11th grade competency for homeschooled students will
be no difficulty in most cases, parents should not be required to
submit further documentation to the government in order to graduate
their children from their home education program.

Calls are needed to urge members of the House Education Committee to
oppose this legislation.

ACTION REQUESTED

Contact the Wyoming House Education Committee Members to oppose House
Bill 129. A list of committee members and their contact information
is below. You do not need to mention that you are a homeschooler.
This issue affects all parents in Wyoming and it is not necessary that
we make this a "homeschool" issue, even though it does affect
homeschooling.

You may also contact your representative to let him or her know that
you oppose this legislation. To find out who your representative is,
you can use the Family Research Council's Legislative Toolbox
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3603 .


In your own words, convey the message that you oppose raising the age
of compulsory attendance in Wyoming because it will:

> Not accomplish the intended objective of increasing high school
completion rates;
> Create classroom difficulties overburdening teachers and
administrators;
> Place new and unnecessary burdens and restriction on the liberty of
all parents;
> Unnecessarily restrict the liberty of 16-year-olds who, with their
parent's permission, wish to enroll in post secondary education or
pursue a vocational calling;
> Redirect funds needed from other more important programs.

This bill was defeated in committee in 2005 and should be again.

Remember, you do not have to identify yourself as a homeschooler.

Members of the House Education Committee:

Chairman Del McOmie (Republican)
307-332-4626
Email Address: dmcomie@house.wyoming.com

Bernadine Craft (Democrat)
Email Address: bcraft@wyoming.com

Kathy Davison (Republican)
307-877-6483
Email Address: kdavison@wyoming.com

Ross Diercks (Democrat)
307-334-3670
Email Address: diercks@wyoming.com

W. Patrick Goggles (Democrat)
307-332-5318
Email Address: pgoggles@wyoming.com

Allen M. Jaggi (Republican)
307-786-2817
Email Address: ajaggi@wyoming.com

Matt Teeters (Republican)
307-837-2359
Email Address: mteeters@wyoming.com

Sue Wallis (Republican)
307-680-8515
Fax: 307-682-3471
Email Address: sue.wallis@vcn.com

Kevin A. White (Republican)
307-742-5541
Email Address: elkuw@wyoming.com

BACKGROUND

1. House Bill 231 was an attempt made in the 2005 session of the
Wyoming Legislature to raise the compulsory attendance age. This bill
was defeated in committee by a vote of 8 to 1. Since then, the
Education Committee has changed dramatically. You can read the old
bill online at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3604 . House Bill
231 was a simple attempt to raise the compulsory age. The current
bill contains a lot more language as well as this "exception"
language.

2. Statistics show that raising the compulsory attendance age will not
reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest
high school completion rates, Maryland at 94.5% and North Dakota at
94.7%, compel attendance only to age 16. The state with the lowest
completion rate (Oregon: 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18.
(Figures are three-year averages, 1996 through 1998.)

3. Twenty-nine states require school attendance only to age 16. Older
children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even
violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want
to learn.

4. Even with the exemption language, passing this bill would restrict
parents' freedom to decide if their 16-year-old is ready for college
or the workforce. (Some 16-year-olds who are not academically
inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being
forced to sit in a classroom.)

5. Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance
age is an inevitable tax burden to pay for more classroom space and
teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend
public schools. When California raised the age of compulsory
attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had
to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems, all at
the expense of the taxpayer.

6. A study by Cornell University on raising the age of compulsory
attendance found that there was no correlation between passing a law
to raise the age of compulsory attendance and high school completion
rates. The study shows that specific programs targeted at at-risk
youth can help improve completion rates, but a law raising the age of
attendance does not. To read the report click here:
http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/pam230/Paper%20Examples/Paper
Example3.pdf .

Thank you for your vigilance on behalf of all Wyoming parents!

Sincerely,


Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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