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10/21/2009 4:10:58 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Hampshire: Legislator Proposes "Every Homeschooler Be Tested Every Year"

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

New Hampshire: Legislator Proposes
"Every Homeschooler Be Tested Every Year"

In this e-lert HSLDA reviews what public policy makers are doing that
will directly affect your freedom to homeschool.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

HSLDA wishes to make you aware of several developments that affect
homeschoolers in New Hampshire. We are not asking for action at this
point. We do ask that you continue to attend meetings when possible,
stay informed and be prepared to act in the near future on all of
these issues that directly affect the freedom to homeschool without
unnecessary government intrusion in New Hampshire.

In this e-lert we look in some detail at very concerning proposals on
the part of the Department of Education and some legislators on the
House Education Committee. These would require annual testing and
portfolio review for every homeschooled child in New Hampshire, and
could require parents keep their children in public or private school
unless their homeschool plan is acknowledged each year.

HB 368 STUDY COMMITTEE REPORT

Maintaining a more active role this fall, the HB 368 study
sub-committees are meeting almost weekly. The next meeting for the
Evaluation and Records Subcommittee is scheduled for Wednesday,
October 28 at 1:30 p.m. The Senate Education Committee will meet that
day also to discuss its overall agenda for the year's legislative
session. HSLDA commends New Hampshire homeschoolers who continue to
attend these meetings and report on their proceedings. Their
reporting and participation is important to insure that homeschoolers
are informed and prepared to defend their freedoms.

In yesterday's Evaluation and Records Subcommittee meeting,
Representative Phil Harvey introduced his recommendation that every
child be tested every year by a "credentialed educator" using
"standardized testing procedures" and that every portfolio be
evaluated. The rationale used by Representative Harvey is that policy
makers need "more data" on homeschoolers in the Granite State.
Homeschoolers present attempted to correct this red herring argument,
used by those who want to impose more regulation on homeschoolers.
These homeschoolers pointed out that there IS data on homeschools in
New Hampshire. Every year evaluations are provided to participating
agencies, and this data shows that there has never been an involuntary
termination of a homeschool program. Representative O'Neil
discounted this argument, stating that just because there haven't been
any terminations doesn't mean there shouldn't have been any
terminations.

This ad absurdum argument illustrates the philosophical underpinning
of those who wish to impose more regulation on homeschoolers. In the
minds of these legislators, children belong to the state, and they are
responsible for overseeing parents who exercise their fundamental
right to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
Homeschoolers also addressed the point that imposing standardized
testing on every student would destroy the essence of what home
education is about -- providing a program of instruction tailored to
the individual student. You can see a version of Representative
Harvey's outrageous proposal here:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7114 .

It is ludicrous that the New Hampshire Legislature is expending this
much time to "study" homeschooling when there are so many documented
problems with public education and other areas of state government,
and when data shows that homeschooling is working well. Homeschoolers
will need to be prepared in January to influence whatever legislation
ends up coming out of the committee. You can listen to the committee
hearing by visiting CheNH's website at
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7115 . A report of the proceedings
should be posted on the CheNH website soon.

DOE RULE CHANGES

We recently informed you about the State Board of Education meeting on
October 14 at which the Department of Education proposed changes to
the administrative rules governing the operation of home education
programs (Ed 315 "Procedures for the Operation of Home Education
Programs").

The State Board has officially opened a rule making process relative
to these rules. While we are not asking our members to take any
specific action, we want you to be aware of what is happening. The
formal rules process requires public comment and a public hearing
before the State Board approves a final version of the rules. After
the State Board of Education approves its version of rules, the State
Legislature, through its Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative
Rules ("JLCAR"), will review the rules and must eventually approve the
rules before they go into effect. There are provisions for the JLCAR
to require modifications to the rules. At the earliest the process
will take until March of 2010 to be completed. It is possible that
the entire process will take until May of 2010. You can learn more
about the rule making process by going here:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7116

The Department of Education has proposed a version of rules that do
NOT follow rules reviewed by the Home Education Advisory Council
("HEAC"). HEAC is a statutory committee that includes homeschoolers,
public school officials, the Department of Education and legislators.
The purpose of HEAC is to advise the Department of Education. In fact,
one of its stated missions is to "[r]ecommend to the commissioner and
state board of education desired changes in rules pertaining to home
education." HEAC has been reviewing the home education rules to align
the rules with the law and to accommodate recent changes in the law.

Ignoring HEAC, the Department of Education has submitted a proposed
version of rules to the State Board that depart unnecessarily from
statutory language and add provisions that are of great concern.

In the Department's version of the rules, Section 315.05(d)(14)
provides that "[t]he children shall be enrolled or remain enrolled in
either a public or private school until a home education program is
established. As written, this rule could be interpreted to grant de
facto approval of homeschools to local school officials that would
require children to remain in public school. By withholding
acknowledgement of the home education program, a program might not be
considered "established," therefore requiring children to remain in
public or private school until "acknowledged" by the school official.


Sections 315.07(c) (4) and 315.08(a) (2) of the Department's version
of the rules provide that a certified teacher must recite "the facts
the teacher relied on to develop the concluding statement" that a
child has demonstrated educational progress "in all areas of
instruction required by RSA 193-A:4." Such language departs from the
law and opens up the possibility for interpretation by participating
agencies regarding whether or not the teacher relied on the
appropriate facts or a sufficient quantity of facts and whether or not
educational progress has been made "in all areas."

There are other problems with the proposed rules, and HSLDA is working
with state homeschool leaders to both completely analyze the rules and
to determine the best response to the Department's proposal.

You can view the Department's version at Department of Education's
Initial Proposed Changes to Ed 315
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7117 . Chris Hamilton, a member of
HEAC, has created a side-by-side comparison of the Department's and
HEAC's reviewed rules proposals. You can review this document (a work
in progress) here: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7118

NEW LEGISLATION

HSLDA is also aware of two Legislative Service Requests (LSRs) that
have been filed to modify the home education law. Representative David
Bates has introduced LSR 2010-H-2559-R, "relative to the procedure for
initiating a home education program." If passed, this LSR would
simplify RSA 193:A to require one-time notification only and
substantially reduce remaining regulations. Representative Paul
Ingbretson has also introduced an LSR, 2010-H-2632-R "relative to home
schooling," that would change the compulsory attendance law (RSA
193:1) to require parents to educate their children unless they enroll
them in a public or private school. This LSR would completely
eliminate the existing homeschool law (RSA 193:A). While exact
language of these LSRs is not available yet, you can visit the CheNH
website at www.chenh.org for more information.

HSLDA is working closely with Christian Home Educators of New
Hampshire (CheNH) and other local leaders and organizations. We will
keep you informed and, as appropriate, requesting that you take action
on these important issues.

Thank you for your membership and support of HSLDA as we stand
together to defend homeschool freedom in New Hampshire!


Very truly yours,


Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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