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6/20/2007 10:25:26 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Louisiana--Urgent Action Needed on TOPS Bill!

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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June 20, 2007

Louisiana--Urgent Action Needed on TOPS Bill!

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

After being told that the TOPS bill would be heard in the Senate
Education Committee we have just learned that the Chairman of the
Education Committee, Senator Chris Ullo, does not intend to bring the
bill up for a hearing. If House Bill 634 does not pass then home study
students will be required to score 3 points higher then public school
students on the ACT to be eligible for any TOPS award.

Please call your state Senator and ask him or her to urge the Senate
Education Committee to bring House Bill 634 up in committee and pass
it out to the full Senate. If Senator Chris Ullo is your senator
please urge him to schedule the bill to be heard in committee.

House Bill 634 will eliminate the sunset clause in the current law and
make it possible for homeschool students to be eligible for TOPS aid
if they score at least 1 point higher on the ACT than public school
students. The current requirement is 2 points higher on the ACT but
that will expire for the 2007-2008 school year unless House Bill 634
passes. While this bill would not completely remove the requirement
that homeschool students score higher to be eligible for the same
awards as public school students, this bill moves the TOPS eligibility
requirements in the right direction.

ACTION REQUESTED:

1) Please call your state Senator and ask him or her to request that
the Senate Education Committee bring House Bill 634 for a vote. Please
also ask him to support the bill. It is better for you to give a
message in your own words but it could be something similar to:

"Please urge the Senate Education Committee to schedule a vote on
House Bill 634. If this bill doesn't pass homeschool students will
have to score 3 points higher on the ACT than public school student
just to be eligible for TOPS. This is discriminatory and should be
stopped."

To find the name and contact information for your local state senator
you can use HSLDA's legislative toolbox at
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox . Please call both the local district
number as well as the capitol office number. When calling, please be
respectful but persistent.

2) Please contact the Senate Education Committee and urge them to
schedule House Bill 634 for a vote. Please write your own message that
says:

"Please schedule a vote on House Bill 634. If this bill doesn't get
heard, homeschool students will have to score 3 points higher on the
ACT than public school student just to be eligible for TOPS. This is
discriminatory and should be stopped."

You can email the Senate Education Committee at
seduc@legis.state.la.us or call them at (225) 342-0682. If you call
you will likely talk with Hilma Hatcher, the senior secretary for the
Education Committee. When calling, please be respectful but
persistent.


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 2 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.

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

Thank you for your part in fighting for freedom in Louisiana!

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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