May 23, 2006

Power to Make New Homeschool Regulations Abolished

With a stroke of the pen last week, Maine’s Governor John E. Baldacci brought protection for homeschool freedom to a new level by taking away the commissioner of education’s power to make new homeschool regulations.

The need for homeschoolers to seek “approval” was abolished in 2003 with landmark legislation that helped Maine join the mainstream. This also had the effect of voiding all the old homeschool regulations. As part of a compromise, however, homeschoolers allowed the 2003 legislation to give the commissioner power to adopt new regulations.

Renewing the commissioner’s regulatory power was troubling because on at least one occasion prior to 2003, the commissioner brushed aside the will of the people and adopted a rule over the overwhelming opposition of homeschool families. The 2003 law was designed to include enough detail that regulations would not be necessary, but we nonetheless braced ourselves for an attempt to adopt regulations.

As time passed, however, it became obvious that the new law was so clear and simple that regulations were unneeded. The department of education never felt a need to propose regulations.

In recognition of this reality, Representative Jacqueline R. Norton (D-Bangor), chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, filed Legislative Document 150. It was designed to remove the commissioner’s unused power to make new homeschool regulations and make several other changes not applicable to homeschool families. The legislature passed L.D. 150 on May 8 and the governor signed it on May 14.

Our thanks go to Governor Baldacci, Rep. Norton, the Maine Legislature, and especially to God, from whom all good gifts come.

The 2003 victory involved tremendous exertion of homeschoolers and significant publicity. This 2007 victory, however, was won as we were silent. As Moses told the Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Ex. 14:14, NASB.