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September 12, 2007

Bills Affecting Homeschoolers Fail

Home School Legal Defense Association tracked a good number of bills during the Mississippi 2007 legislative session that, if passed, would have affected the rights of parents who educate their children at home.

Senate Bill 2380, introduced by Senator Sampson Jackson (32nd Senate District ), would have authorized the state board of education to establish “student testing proficiency standards for promotion to grade levels for students in home instruction programs which are equivalent to requirements applicable to public school students.” If this legislation had been enacted, parents would have no longer been able to determine grade placement of their children being homeschooled. Due to the effective lobbying efforts of the Mississippi Home Educators Association, this bill died in committee.

House Bill 698 and Senate Bill 2626 were companion bills that would have permitted school districts to enroll homeschool students as dual-enrollment students so they could participate in both academic and extracurricular activities, while House Bill 174 would have entitled homeschool students to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school. HSLDA took a neutral position on these bills, all of which died in committee.

House Bill 1458 was a tax credit bill for education expenses for all students, including homeschool students. While the concept of tax credits is favorable to homeschooling families, this bill would have required academic evaluations of homeschool students. The evaluations would have been conducted using “appropriate analytical and behavioral science methodologies.” Additionally, they would compute the relative efficiency of public and homeschools and a comparison of acceptance rates into college, “while adjusting or controlling for student and family background.” This bill was opposed as introduced, considering the academic and personal evaluations of homeschool students and their families. If these objectionable provisions had been deleted, then this tax credit bill could have been supported. It did not go anywhere.

In addition to these bills, HSLDA tracked numerous measures designed to increase governmental control over education. House Bills 505, 831, and 970 and Senate Bills 2096, 2232, 2326, 2327, and 2393 would have expanded the compulsory attendance ages in Mississippi. They all died in committee.