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1/21/2009 5:04:03 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Hampshire--Action Needed to Oppose Threatening Homeschool Legislation

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 21, 2009

New Hampshire--Action Needed to Oppose
Threatening Homeschool Legislation

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

New Hampshire homeschoolers will have to pull together to defeat
Representative Judith Day's ill-conceived homeschool bills (H.B. 367
and 368). H.B. 367 is the most significant threat to New Hampshire
homeschoolers since New Hampshire's homeschool law was passed in 1990.

If enacted, H.B. 367 would make New Hampshire's homeschool law one of
the most restrictive in the country. Because of its scope, the bill
would create new burdens on homeschoolers and participating agencies.


HSLDA is coordinating with homeschool leaders in New Hampshire and we
are asking for your help now to defeat this unnecessary and irrational
legislation.

We are asking for your help.

ACTION REQUESTED

1) Please use the alphabetized list at
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6004 to contact the members of the
House Education committee (or contact your own representative if he is
on the committee). Please tell them in your own words to oppose this
bill and to ask them their position on the bill. Report the
legislator's position to NH@hslda.org. If your representative is not
on the committee use the alphabetized list at the link.

Please read the bill (see the link on HSLDA's bill page if you haven't
yet) and tell the committee in your own words (feel free to add
additional arguments --there are certainly many):

"H.B. 367 and 368 should be voted ITL. A majority of last year's
homeschool study commission voted not to change the law. RSA 193-A
was drafted in 1990 with all stakeholders involved, but it appears
that Representative Day has ignored the recommendations of the
commission and consulted none of the stakeholders for input about her
proposed legislation. This bill is misguided and unnecessary.
Twenty years of experience show that the New Hampshire home school law
works well--no changes are needed or wanted. A growing body of
national research continues to show that homeschooling works and
produces superior academic results. Research also shows that there is
no positive correlation between increased regulation and performance.
This bill would impose unnecessary and harmful restrictions on
homeschoolers in New Hampshire where there is no evidence to suggest
any change is needed. For this and other reasons please vote ITL on
H.B. 367 and 368."

2) Attend the February 10 meeting of the Home Education Advisory
Council ("HEAC"). In attendance will be members of the House
Education Committee and Members of the Department of Education. This
will be a further opportunity to demonstrate opposition and concern
about this unnecessary and radical change to New Hampshire's
homeschool law. The meeting will be held in Room 12 at the Department
of Education located in the State Office Complex in Concord at 101
Pleasant Street.

Here is what this Bill will do:

Instead of having four methods to comply with the annual assessment
requirement, EVERY homeschooler EVERY year will have to submit to BOTH
standardized testing AND a portfolio evaluation administered by a
"credentialed educator".

Superintendent or non-public school principals would be required to
review BOTH test results AND the portfolio evaluation to determine IF
a home educated in the opinion of the superintendent or nonpublic
school principle" has demonstrated satisfactory "academic growth" and
MAY continue without probation.

Following a one year probation the superintendent or non public school
principal would be able to terminate a home education program. The
program would be able to appeal to the State Board of Education whose
decision would be FINAL.

New Hampshire homeschoolers would have to pay for two evaluations
instead of just one. Participating agencies would have to use their
scarce and valuable time to comply with unnecessary bureaucratic
filing requirements for no goo d reason.

Parents would not be allowed to choose the best method of assessment
for their student.

Superintendents and principles would have to use their own subjective
judgment to determine whether a student has demonstrated "academic
growth".

The bill creates undefined terms (Such as "credentialed educator" and
"academic growth") that would increase the chances of arbitrary
decision making by superintendents or principals who would have to use
their own subjective opinion to decide whether home education programs
are put on probation or terminated.

BACKGROUND

New Hampshire's homeschool law was passed in 1990 after much
deliberation among all stakeholders including homeschoolers, public
education officials, and legislators. The next year, in 1991, the New
Hampshire legislature amended the home school law to add a statement
of purpose

"The general court recognizes , in the enactment of RSA 193-A...that
it is the primary right and obligation of a parent to choose the
appropriate educational alternative for a child...The general court
further recognizes that home education is more individualized
instruction that instruction normally provided in the classroom
setting."

The law has been modified slightly since. Then in 2008 a legislative
commission formed by SB 337 to examine to see if changes were needed
in the law voted 4-2 with one abstention by the chairman, NOT to make
changes to the home school law. In the face of this vote and a lack
of substantive data indicating any problem to be solved at all (never
mind that the current draft not only does not SOLVE a problem but
would create a host of other problems) Representative Day has proposed
radical changes to the law in the form of H.B. 367 and 368.

In the surrounding states of Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine, the
last 20 years have seen great conflict between homeschoolers and the
government over how much involvement by the government is appropriate.
In Massachusetts there have been two Supreme Court cases and a number
of lower level court cases--even today there is constant friction
between homeschoolers and local school officials. In Vermont there
are dozens of hearings every year over usually minor issues of
administration and paperwork at the State level. In 2003, Maine
finally reduced the amount of regulation on homeschoolers and switched
its law from approval to a "notice of intent" because of the problems.
In stark contrast, New Hampshire has enjoyed a healthy relationship
between homeschoolers and the government because of the respect the
law creates options to partner with a non public school and to choose
from among four different options to comply with the annual
assessment.

In the United States of America only a minority of the states require
ANY assessment of home educated students. Of those that do not a
single state requires both a standardized test AND a portfolio every
year. Only Pennsylvania, one of the most restrictive in the country,
requires both a portfolio and test and that only during grade 3, 5 and
8 a total of 3 years of the student's entire educational career.

H.B. 367 and 368 are unnecessary. The bills impose a needless burden
on homeschoolers and shift authority to determine whether a child
should be homeschooled from parents to others. Parents have a
fundamental right under the United States Constitution to direct the
upbringing and education of their children, and legislation like
Representative Day's undermines this right by going against the
presumption that parents act in their children's best interest.

Thank you for your work to support homeschool freedom in New Hampshire
and for taking action to defeat this harmful legislation.


Sincerely,


Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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-> Can you call your attorney at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning?

Our members can get in touch with their attorney even after
business hours, when they have a legal emergency. Wouldn't you
like this level of service?

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1100

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