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March 22, 2011
Freedom Lost on Path to Recovery
New Hampshire homeschoolers have been caught in a legislative tornado over the past few years. So much so, that on HSLDA’s four-degree color-coded state law scale, New Hampshire ranked red, as one of the states with the most hostile legislative climates to homeschoolers.
While homeschoolers have primarily been on the defensive during these years, this legislative session they had the opportunity to go on the offensive after a significant swing in the makeup of the legislature. Although two bills were sponsored to make the New Hampshire homeschool law less burdensome, both were retained by the House Education Committee for further study. However, one bill, HB 429, successfully moved out of committee and out of the house to the senate with a strong majority.
In 2007, the New Hampshire legislature passed Senate Bill 18, which raised the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18. HB 429 would provide all parents the right to determine whether their children could be exempt from the compulsory attendance law after they turn 16. This is a decision that rightly belongs to parents. The potential effect of the bill for homeschoolers would be to enable them to exempt their children from compulsory attendance and thereby avoid having to report under the homeschool law for children over age 16.
Although, the Education Committee was split 8–8 on the bill and, therefore, made no recommendation to the full House, homeschoolers did not to stand by idly and watch. Through calls, emails, and letters, they urged their representatives to support the bill and on March 15, the house passed the bill with a healthy majority of 210–134. HSLDA expects the bill to be referred to the Senate Education Committee.
HSLDA is grateful for New Hampshire homeschoolers’ love of freedom and their willingness to take action at a moment’s notice. Unified homeschoolers can make a difference. Membership with HSLDA, statewide homeschool organizations, and local support groups helps create the unity that is essential to effective activism.