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6/14/2007 2:08:57 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Louisiana--TOPS Bill Passes Committee, Goes to Floor

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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June 14, 2007

Louisiana--TOPS Bill Passes Committee, Goes to Floor

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Thank you for all of your calls. The TOPS bill, House Bill 634, passed
unanimously with the amendment to enable home study students to only
score 1 point higher than public school graduates on the ACT in order
to be eligible for the various Louisiana TOPS awards.

Currently 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 any of the various TOPS financial aid awards if
he or she scores 2 points higher than the score required for public
school students. However, the current law also has a sunset provision
which would cause the law to roll back to the earlier requirement that
a home study student score 3 points higher.

House Bill 634 will make this change permanent and make it possible
for homeschool students to be eligible for TOPS aid if they score at
least 1 point higher than the total required for public school
students. While the bill would not completely remove the requirement
the homeschool students score higher to be eligible for the same
awards, this bill moves the TOPS eligibility requirements in the right
direction.

House Bill 634 has been sent to the House floor and could be voted on
today. Please call your representative and urge them to vote in favor
of House Bill 634.

ACTION REQUESTED:

Please contact your representative and ask him or her to vote in favor
of House Bill 634. It is better for you to give them a message in your
own words but it could be something similar to this message:

"Please vote in favor of House Bill 634. Currently homeschool students
must score 2 points higher than public school students on the ACT in
order to be eligible for TOPS. This is discriminatory and should be
stopped."

To find the name and contact information for your local state
representative you can use HSLDA's legislative toolbox at
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox .

BACKGROUND:

The Louisiana state financial aid program, TOPS, has been open to
homeschool students who have been enrolled in approved home study
program since the end of their 10th grade year. However, in order for
a homeschool graduate to receive any TOPS aid he or she must score at
least 2 points higher on the ACT than 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 generally opposes bills that would provide government
benefits to homeschoolers we oppose discrimination against
homeschoolers in the area of college entrance and scholarship
opportunities. Since Louisiana already provides TOPS funding to
students in homeschools HSLDA maintains that the two 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 2 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
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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at
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