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February 8, 2005

Homeschooling Under Fire in 2005 Legislative Sessions

Homeschoolers in several states are faced with aggressive attempts to take away their freedom. HSLDA and homeschool families are fighting back.

The majority of state legislatures have started their 2005 session, and not surprisingly the regulation of homeschooling has been a hot issue. Several states have introduced bills that would restrict the freedom to homeschool.

Attempts to Impose State Assessments on Homeschools
For example, both New Mexico and South Dakota filed bills that would force homeschool students to take state-selected standardized tests in the public school or under the supervision of a certified teacher. These bills violate a federal prohibition in the No Child Left Behind Act that forbids states to require homeschoolers to take the state assessment.

Unlimited State Powers Over Homeschoolers
New Jersey introduced a bill in 2004 that would give the state Board of Education virtually unlimited power to impose new restrictions on homeschoolers, force homeschoolers to take a state assessment based on public school curriculum and turn over private medical information to the public schools. The bill was defeated last year after hundreds of homeschoolers and HSLDA staged large rallies at the Capitol in opposition. It has been reintroduced at the beginning of the 2005 legislative season. HSLDA and New Jersey homeschoolers will fight hard to stop this bill.

Worst Bill of the Decade
After Democrats took control of the House, Senate, and Governorship in Montana, a long-time anti-homeschool Senator filed one of the harshest bills we have seen for a long time. The bill would transform one of the best homeschool laws in the nation to one of the worst. It would require that homeschools be supervised by a certified teacher and monitored bi-annually by the school district. Among other restrictions, it would even prohibit the homeschooling of any child with developmental disabilities in spite of HSLDA studies proving that special needs students learn better in a homeschool setting. It also prohibits homeschooling by stepparents and legal guardians!

HSLDA Attorney Dee Black is working closely with Steve White head of the Montana Coalition of Homeschoolers to stop this bill. Dee plans to testify against this terrible bill in committee on Monday, February 14.

An Attempt to Turn Back the Clock
An Oregon Senate bill turns the clock back by requiring families to submit a yearly notice and standardized test results to their local school district. The legislature had previously removed these requirements from the law. HSLDA Attorney Thomas Schmidt is working with the state homeschool association OCEAN to defeat this bill.

Attempts to Expand Jurisdiction over Homeschoolers
Besides these legislative challenges, families are also facing major expansion of state jurisdiction over their children in Michigan, Wyoming, Hawaii, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, and Iowa. All seven of these states have introduced one or more bills expanding the compulsory attendance age in the state, thus requiring parents to comply with school regulations for longer periods of time. The goal of the teachers unions is to lower the mandatory school age to three years of age and raise it to at least 18 years old.

Believe it or not, Indiana has a bill to require children to be in school until 19 years of age!

HSLDA Legislative Team
Our legal legislative team at HSLDA, headed by Senior Counsel Chris Klicka, is made up of five lawyers and six legal assistants. They are actively working around the clock to defeat all of these restrictive homeschool bills and continue to monitor hundreds of bills in all 50 states. They are also working on promoting many bills that will advance homeschool freedoms.

South Dakota Restrictive Bill Defeated The first restrictive homeschool bill to fail was in South Dakota. In below zero temperatures, Attorney Scott Woodruff traveled to South Dakota in mid-January to testify against the testing bill. He pointed out that it violated both federal law and a parent's right to direct their children's education. Hundreds of homeschoolers attended the hearing, which helped clinch the victory. The committee unanimously voted against the bill!

We stand ready to take similar action in other states to ensure that homeschool freedom is protected.

Remember, we need you to stand with us in order to fight these battles for homeschool freedoms. Without your membership, we could not exist. Thank you for your continued support!

As Benjamin Franklin once said, "We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we will all hang separately!"