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2/6/2009 3:04:47 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Hampshire: Action needed to Oppose Threatening Legislation

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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New Hampshire: Action needed to Oppose Threatening Legislation

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

As you know, 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 Capitol in Concord at 1:00 followed by H.B. 367 at 2:00. We
are asking that you attend if at all possible. You will join many New
Hampshire homeschoolers and HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly in
testifying against these unnecessary legislative proposals.

It has come to our attention that there is some informal discussion
among members of the committee that an amended version of the bill may
be offered. New Hampshire's homeschool law is working fine and has
worked for nearly 20 years. There is no evidence of any kind for a
need to change the law. When compared to most other states in the
country, New Hampshire's homeschool law is already burdensome enough
and should not be changed.

Even if you have done so, please call the Education Committee again to
tell them that there is no need for ANY change to the homeschool
regulation in New Hampshire.

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

In your testimony it is important that you focus on one or two
arguments and, if possible, make the point that no change to the law
is needed or desired.

2) Please contact the Education Committee by using the alphabetized
list at the following link: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6034

Please tell them in your own words to oppose this bill and not to make
ANY changes to the homeschool law:

"H.B. 367 and 368 should be voted ITL without any amendments. There
is no need to make any changes to the homeschool law. A majority of
last year's homeschool study commission voted not to change the law.

Twenty years of experience show that the New Hampshire homeschool law
works well -- no changes are needed or wanted.

Furthermore, when compared to other states, New Hampshire's homeschool
law is already burdensome enough. 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. They would then
determine IF a home-educated pupil, in the opinion of the
superintendent or nonpublic school principal, 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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-> You can only do so much...

No one can be everywhere at once. And you can't be at home,
teaching your children, while monitoring your state's legislature.
Through electronic legislative services, HSLDA is monitoring state
legislation for you -- watching and listening carefully for any
proposed laws that could erode your right to homeschool.
Join HSLDA today-we'll watch out for your future.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1942

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