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1/30/2008 4:50:17 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Nebraska--Your Attendance Needed to Oppose Threatening Homeschool Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 30, 2008

Nebraska--Your Attendance at Legislative Day Needed
to Oppose Threatening Homeschool Legislation

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Nebraska homeschoolers will have to pull together and work hard over
the next six weeks to defeat Senator DiAnna Schimek's ill-conceived
homeschool bill (L.B. 1141), the biggest threat to Nebraska
homeschoolers in decades.

If enacted, this bill would make Nebraska's homeschool law one of the
most restrictive in the country. Because of its vast scope, the bill
would also create tremendous new burdens on homeschoolers. Please
come to Lincoln and tell your senator, the bill's sponsor, and members
of the Education Committee to leave Nebraska homeschoolers alone.

We urge you to attend the Nebraska Homeschoolers' Legislative Day on
February 6, 2008. At the NCHEA-sponsored event, you will have the
opportunity to meet with the Governor Dave Heineman and your senator
to personally ask them to oppose this burdensome and unnecessary
legislation.

Email Deb Badeer today at register@fsvmail.net to register for this
event.

ACTION REQUESTED

Attend the NCHEA-sponsored Legislative Day, meet with your senator,
and tell him or her that L.B. 1141 is a bad solution to a non-existent
problem. Register today by emailing register@fsvmail.net

If you wish to contact the bill's sponsor, Senator Schimek, she can be
reached at (402) 471 2632 or dschimek@leg.ne.gov

For more information on studies demonstrating the effectiveness of
homeschooling, go to http://www.hslda.org/research

We will keep you informed and will likely be asking for more action in
the coming weeks. Thank you for taking action to preserve
homeschooling freedom in Nebraska!

BACKGROUND

If this bill passes, you will:

> Have to submit to discretionary approval by the Commissioner of
Education.

> This gives the Department of Education("NDE") approval
authority over whether homeschoolers may file under Rule 12 or 13 and
over their curriculum;

> Have to submit to intrusive and ill-conceived annual assessments.

> This requires an annual in-person evaluation, at the parents'
expense, but by a person of the Commissioner's choosing and at a time
and place determined by the NDE. Parents may be allowed to observe as
long as they are "under the supervision of the Commissioner or
designated staff person."

> To avoid the NDE's required annual in person evaluation, a
homeschooling parent would have to submit extensive documentation to a
certified and approved teacher, including a complete written record of
all the educational activities a child has been involved in AND a
portfolio of the student's work, and the results of any assessments
conducted. And even then, the teacher's positive report would merely
create a "presumption" that adequate progress was being made.

> The bill would also require that assessments be conducted
against standards created and approved by the NDE and based on
age/grade levels of their peers in public schools;

> Have to submit detailed attendance records every year.

> This requires homeschoolers to submit attendance records
annually to the Nebraska Department of Education ("NDE");
> Have to test before you start.

> This requires first-time homeschooled students to take an
NDE-approved test for "baseline educational data" (presumably this
test is to be used by the NDE to determine whether or not "progress
has been achieved");

> Give the Commissioner authority to hold your kids hostage in public
schools at his discretion.

> This requires homeschooled children to attend an accredited
public or private school if they do not make adequate progress as
defined by the NDE and would prevent the child from being homeschooled
until the NDE approves.

Nebraska's current law was drafted and passed in the early 1980s,
after the state was nationally embarrassed for its harsh treatment of
homeschooling parents, which included sending pastors and fathers to
prison and forcing mothers and children to flee to other states.
Since those days, Nebraska has improved its relationship with
homeschoolers, but Senator Schimek is ready to change that. At last
year's NCHEA Legislative Day, she was overheard commenting, "We don't
know what these homeschoolers are doing. They really need to be
monitored." And this year, she is following through on that, with
LB1141.

This bill is a bad solution in search of a non-existent problem. Instead of creating more headache
and restrictions for homeschoolers, the Nebraska Department of
Education and its legislative supporters would be better advised to
learn how and why homeschoolers are so successful and to apply some of
those lessons to their public schools.

Studies have conclusively demonstrated that there is no positive
correlation between increased regulation and performance. Further,
homeschoolers continue to score higher on national standardized
achievement tests than their public and private school peers. This
type of proposed regulation is dangerous, as it imposes a needless
burden on homeschoolers and shifts the authority to determine whether
a child should be homeschooled from the parents to the state. Parents
have a fundamental right under the United States Constitution to
direct the upbringing and education of their children, and legislation
like Senator Schimek's undermines this right by going against the
presumption that parents act in their children's best interest.

For research in support of homeschooling go to
http://www.hslda.org/research

Sincerely,


Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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