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2/25/2008 11:26:38 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Nebraska--Please Attend Tomorrow's Testing Bill Hearing

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 25, 2008

Nebraska--Please Attend Tomorrow's Testing Bill Hearing

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

The Education Committee will hear testimony on L.B. 1141 tomorrow.
Please plan to attend this hearing -- for details, see below. Also,
if you have not yet contacted your state senator or the Nebraska
Education Committee, we ask that you do so TODAY. Although Governor
Dave Heineman has promised to veto L.B. 1141 if it reaches his desk,
the Senate can override a governor's veto. Thus, it is essential that
you communicate to your legislators your opposition to L.B. 1141.

At this time, it appears that L.B. 1141 will be voted out of the
Education Committee and debated in the full Senate. HSLDA is working
with NCHEA (Nebraska Christian Home Educator's Association) to defeat
this bill, and we need your help!

ACTION REQUESTED

Contact the Education Committee members who have not committed to vote
against L.B. 1141. Respectfully ask the senator to oppose L.B. 1141.
In your own words, you can tell the senator or his staff that:

"Homeschooling in Nebraska is working fine and no new laws or
regulations are needed. Contrary to what some public officials have
said, the state already has all the tools needed to ensure that
children in Nebraska are being educated. Nebraska is one of
twenty-two states that have low homeschool regulation. The current
approach has worked well for twenty-four years and there is no
credible evidence that would suggest further regulation is needed."

Request the senator's response in writing. If a senator writes or
tells you that he will vote against L.B. 1141, please send a copy of
that letter or email to or notify NCHEA at nchea@nchea.net.

Contact your senator (find your senator using HSLDA's Legislative
Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox ) and do the same as above.
Twenty-five votes are required to defeat the legislation in the
Unicameral. So far only twenty of forty-nine senators have indicated
that they will vote against L.B. 1141: Ray Aguilar, Carroll Burling,
Tom Carlson, Mark Christiansen, Abbie Cornett, Patrick Engel, Phillip
Erdman, Deb Fischer, Mike Friend, Tony Fulton, Tim Gay, Lavon
Heidemann, Russ Karpisek, Gail Kopplin, Scott Lautenbaugh, Dwite
Peterson, Pete Pirsch, Arnie Stuthman, John Synowiecki, and Norm
Wallman.

Please plan to attend the Education Committee's hearing on L.B. 1141
tomorrow, February 26, 2008. (HSLDA Attorney Mike Donnelly will be
there to testify.) There will be a limited amount of time for each
side to present its position on the bill. Each individual testifying
may be limited to 3-5 minutes, and not everyone who attends will be
able to testify. However, even if you do not testify against the
bill, your presence will demonstrate your opposition. You may give
written testimony to NCHEA representatives who will deliver it to the
committee.


Hearings start at 1:30 p.m. and the hearing rooms will open then. The
hearing on L.B. 1141 will be in room No. 1524. Currently, L.B. 1141
is the third bill on the Education Committee's agenda for tomorrow.
Your conduct during the hearing is important--you must be orderly,
gracious, and respectful. You may not applaud or create any
disturbance during the hearing. This is prohibited and distracts from
the presentations. We want the senators to give their full attention
to positions being presented by those testifying and not be distracted
by other things occurring in the room.

Please note there is very limited seating in the actual hearing room
(No. 1524). The Warner Chamber, on the second floor of the Capitol,
will also be open for seating, with a live audio/video feed from
hearing room No. 1524. Those unable to be seated in the actual
hearing room will still be able to see and hear all proceedings.
Behavior in the Warner Chamber should be the same as if attendees are
in the actual hearing room--no cheering, applause, jeers, boos, etc.
NCHEA will have a supply of badges/name tags to wear, similar to those
used on Legislative Day, indicating opposition to L.B. 1141.

The Education Committee's contact information is as follows:

Senator Ron Raikes, Chair
Phone: (402) 471-2731
E-Mail: rraikes@leg.ne.gov

Senator Gail Kopplin, Vice Chair (opposes the bill)
Phone: (402) 471-2627
E-Mail: gkopplin@leg.ne.gov

Senator Greg L. Adams
Phone: (402) 471-2756
E-mail: gadams@leg.ne.gov

Senator Brad Ashford
Phone: (402) 471-2622
E-mail: bashford@leg.ne.gov

Senator Bill Avery
Phone: (402) 471-2633
E-mail: bavery@leg.ne.gov

Senator Carroll Burling (opposes the bill)
Phone: (402) 471-2712
E-mail: cburling@leg.ne.gov

Senator Gwen Howard
Phone: (402) 471-2723
E-mail: ghoward@leg.ne.gov

Senator Joel T. Johnson
Phone: (402) 471-2726
E-mail: jjohnson@leg.ne.gov

For more information about this bill visit HSLDA's Nebraska page at
http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/NE/default.asp. You can also visit
NCHEA's website at www.nchea.org.

BACKGROUND

Consider the following messages in speaking with your Senator:

The state's interest in the education of children has been satisfied
by homeschooling under Rules 12 and 13 for the last twenty-four years.
The current law does not need to be fixed. Annual assessments are not
needed, but even if they were, the proposed approach in L.B. 1141
would be overly burdensome, unfair and difficult to implement.

The idea that the state needs to know "what is going on" in
homeschools demonstrates the wrong premise. The United States Supreme
Court in Parham v. JR wrote that "fit parents are presumed to be doing
what is in the best interests of their children." Nebraska state
government should encourage homeschoolers--they not only save the
state a lot of money, but they have also consistently demonstrated
that they are doing a good job.

As a homeschooling parent, and I know many others like me, I take my
role as instructor seriously. I work hard to ensure that my children
learn the skills and knowledge necessary to become productive members
of society. Furthermore, statistics back up that parent-instructors
are doing their job--national studies have shown that homeschoolers
perform better than public and private school students on national
standardized tests.

Nebraska homeschools create productive and literate members of society
who go to college, serve in the military, start companies, work, raise
families and do a host of other things that add to society.
While some have expressed a concern about "neglected children slipping
through the cracks," there is no credible evidence suggesting that the
proposed assessments are needed or would prevent this from occurring.
The state already has all the tools it needs to identify and serve the
needs of neglected children, even if these children somehow be in an
exempt school setting.

If this bill passes, you will:

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

> Requires 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.
> Requires homeschoolers to submit attendance records annually to the
Nebraska Department of Education ("NDE");

Have to test before you start.
> 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.
> Require 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.

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

Thank you for your work to preserve homeschooling freedom in Nebraska!


Very truly yours,


Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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-> Is customer service an art or a science?

For us, good customer service is both an art and a science
-it should appeal to our members and be effective. Consider what
our members say about us:

The freedom HSLDA allows me to have as I homeschool is wonderful!
They handle the law and I get to dedicate the time to my daughter.
- National City, CA

HSLDA members since 1993, our membership is just as important to
us as our children's curriculum. Thank you HSLDA for all you do on
our behalf! - West Valley, NY

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1941

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