Date:  
From:  
Subject:  
2/14/01 5:34:19 PM
Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Maine: Calls urgently needed on LD 405

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From the HSLDA@Capitol Hill E-lert Service...
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February 14, 2001

Dear Maine Members and Friends,

On Wednesday, February 21, the Maine Education and Cultural Affairs
Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 129, commonly knows as
Legislative Document (LD) 405. This bill would restrict home school
freedom by requiring home schooled students to take the Maine
Educational Assessment (MEA) exam, a test that public school students
are now required to take. In addition, this bill would allow every
school district to collect 25 percent of the per-pupil funding for
each home school student living in the district. For the reasons
detailed below, HSLDA is strongly opposed to this bill.

ACTION REQUESTED
Please call your own senator and representative, and also as many of
the committee members listed below as you can. An appropriate message
would be: "Will you commit to vote against LD 405, a bill that would
unfairly make home school children take the MEA?" Remember that the
senator or representative may not be familiar with the bill, so be
prepared to describe it briefly. It is officially known as, "An Act
to Account for Homeschooled Children under the School Funding Formula
and to Require the Maine Educational Assessment for Homeschooled
Children."

Be polite, but firm. If your senator or representative refuses to
make a commitment follow up phone calls would be beneficial. Be
prepared to explain your reasons for opposing the bill. HSLDA's
reasons are listed below.

If at all possible, please arrange your schedule so you can attend
the hearing on Wednesday, February 21, in the Cross Office Building,
Room 214, on Sewall Street, directly behind the capitol. The location
may be changed. If so, we will post the new location promptly on our
web site. Directions can be found at:
http://janus.state.me.us/legis/lio/maps/armory.asp

Several home school leaders have spoken personally with the
influential sponsor of L.D. 405 to convince him the bill is unfair.
He has rejected their pleas and refused to withdraw the bill. He
intends to push it forward. It is extremely important that a very
large number of home school families attend the hearing to make an
overwhelming demonstration of opposition. This bill is such a serious
threat to home school freedom that we urge every home school family
to do its utmost to oppose this bill. All private school students
would also be required to take the MEA under this bill, and many
private school parents will find that they have some of the same
concerns with this bill that home schoolers do. Please pass this
information on to your friends who have children in private school,
as well as to other home school families.


ISSUE BACKGROUND
To read this bill go to www.hslda.org, click "Maine" on our State
Legislative Action map, and then follow the links to the bill text.

HOME (Homeschoolers of Maine) opposes this bill, as do a number of
other organizations.

HSLDA is opposed to this bill for the following reasons:


1. The MEA is a highly content-specific test, based on the state's
public school curriculum. It is not an aptitude test, such as the
SAT, or other widely recognized national tests. Public schools teach
students the specific content the test covers, but home school
families do not necessarily use the same curriculum as public
schools. It is unfair to test home school students on material they
may not have been taught.

2. No state in the country requires home school children to take the
state's assessment.

3. Home schooled students are already required by law to be assessed
every year, and those assessments must be filed with the Maine State
Department of Education. Requiring home schooled students to take an
additional test is unnecessary.

4. One of the reasons home schooling is so successful is that parents
have wide latitude to choose the educational program that is most
effective for their own children. If home schoolers are required to
take an assessment which is based upon the curriculum of the public
school, there will be tremendous, unfair pressure on parents to give
up the curriculum they believe is best for their child and instead
teach the public school curriculum. No one wants his or her child to
have the stigma of a low score on the MEA.

5. It is financially irresponsible-and makes no sense---for a school
to get extra money simply because home school families live in the
district. Why should the school get paid for children it does not
teach? Furthermore, since taxpayers are the only source of government
revenue, public schools will get extra money only if it comes from
taxpayers. The greater the number of families who home school, the
greater the potential tax increase. Does this make sense in an era
when home schooling is the fastest growing educational movement?

6. The bill also compels private school students to take the MEA, and
gives school districts 25 percent of the per-student amount of state
funding for private school students. This is unfair and financially
irresponsible for the reasons outlined above.


Sincerely yours,

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.



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Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
Committee Phone: 207.287.3125

Senate Message Line: 800.423.6900
Representatives Message Line: 800.423.2900

If you do not know who your senator or representative is, you can
call 207.287.1692 or 800.301.3178 for legislative information, or get
help at this website:

http://janus.state.me.us/house/townlist.htm


Senators:
Betty Lou Mitchell, Chair (R-Penobscot)
207.269.2071
senatorblm@bigplanet.com

John M. Nutting (D-Androscoggin)
207.524.3941
SenJohn.Nutting@state.me.us

Margaret Rotundo (D-Androscoggin)
207.784.3259
mrotundo@bates.edu


Representatives:

Shirley K. Richard, Chair (D-Madison)
207.696.3049

Mabel J. Desmond (D-Mapleton)
207.764.1011
mjdez@mfx.net

James G. Skoglund (D-St. George)
207.372.8893

Elizabeth Watson (D-Farmingdale)
207.582.7047

Stephen C. Estes (D-Kittery)
207.439.3479

Glenn Cummings (D-Portland)
207.775.2560
GCforLeg@yahoo.com

Vaughn A. Stedman (R-Hartland)
207.938.4890

Mary Black Andrews (R-York)
207.363.4714
mandr30420@aol.com
RepMaryBlack.Andrews@state.me.us

Carol Weston (R-Montville)
207.589.4481
rcweston@midcoast.com

Mary Ellen Ledwin (R-Holden)
207.989.4627
nalme@aol.com

Donald G. Soctomah (Passamaquoddy Tribe)
207.372.8893

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Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, Virginia 20134
540-338-5600
www.hslda.org
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 Other Resources

More information on Maine's Senate Bill 129