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1/28/2009 3:09:17 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Hampshire--Attend Hearing to Oppose Threatening Homeschool Legislation

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 28, 2009

New Hampshire--Attend Hearing to Oppose
Threatening Homeschool Legislation

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Hearings for H.B. 367 and 368 have been scheduled for February 11,
2009. H.B. 368 will be heard in Representative's Hall at the State
Capital in Concord at 1:00 followed by H.B. 367 at 2:00. We are
asking as many New Hampshire homeschoolers as possible to attend.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly plans to attend and to testify
along with other New Hampshire homeschool leaders and supporters.

Please keep calling the Education Committee -- you are making a
difference. Although some legislators have told us that they intend
to listen to both sides before making a decision, a number have
informed us that they agree that there is no need to make any changes
to the current law and that they intend to vote "inexpedient to
legislate" ("ITL") on the legislation. Of course, even if the
Education Committee votes ITL, the entire House of Representatives
will have an opportunity to vote on the bill.

In our previous e-lert we suggested that you attend the HEAC meeting
scheduled for February 10. It is more important, however, that as
many homeschoolers as possible attend the hearing on February 11. If
you still wish to attend the HEAC meeting, however, the time for the
meeting is 3:30 p.m. (not 6:00 p.m. as previously noted) in Room 15 at
the DOE offices of the State Office Complex at 101 Pleasant Street in
Concord. There will be very limited opportunity for public comment at
this meeting.

Recently a group of New Hampshire homeschool leaders met and
unanimously agreed that there should be no changes to the homeschool
law. HSLDA agrees with their conclusion that the current law should
be left alone without any amendment. To help achieve this result we
are asking you to continue to take action.

ACTION REQUESTED

1) Attend the hearing on February 11 and testify if possible. A memo
to assist you in preparing your testimony has been created by HSLDA
and is available at our website at:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6032

2) Join the Yahoo group that has been created to help organize
activities and communication in opposition to H.B. 367 & 368. You can
join the group by going to: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6033

3) If you have not contacted the education committee, please use the
alphabetized list at the following link:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6034 to contact the members of the
House Education committee. Please tell them in your own words to
oppose this bill and ask them what their position on the bill is.
Forward the legislator's position and any interesting correspondence
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 home schooling 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."


BACKGROUND

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 nonpublic
school principal would be able to terminate a home education program.
Parents 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 good 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.

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 homeschool 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 S.B. 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 homeschool law. Although the report was not published,
the minutes of these public meetings are available for review and
indicate that this is what happened. In the face of this study
commission 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 grades 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 shifts 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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-> How long are you in for?

Some families are facing what seems like a lifelong commitment to
homeschooling, with children at both ends of the spectrum -- some
graduating and some just reaching school age. If you're going to
be "in" for a while, consider a lifetime membership with HSLDA.
It's a good deal for families with more than 10 years of
homeschooling ahead.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1936

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