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May 18, 2006

‘Every Child Is Ours’

Despite an uphill battle, homeschoolers managed to avoid being included in legislation aimed at expanding the compulsory attendance age.

The crisis began just after the Colorado legislature opened in January. Treon Goossen, with Concerned Parents of Colorado, contacted Home School Legal Defense Association about a bill introduced by Senator Tapia which imposed two additional years of government control over home education, private schools, and public schools alike. The bill called for lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 6, and raising it from 16 to 17.

Initially, the prospects of stopping the bill looked bleak because the legislature is controlled by Democrats. During testimony on the bill, a judge spoke up in favor of the bill claiming, “every child in Colorado is ours!”

Shortly after the bill was introduced, HSLDA worked in conjunction with Treon to send an e-lert encouraging Colorado members to ask Senator Tapia to withdraw the bill. When Senator Tapia did not withdraw the bill, HSLDA then asked members to flood their legislators with calls to oppose the bill.

Not only did these calls fail to stop the bill, it was amended in committee to add yet another year to the compulsory attendance age—from 17 to 18!

Treon and HSLDA desperately worked together to create their own amendment that was presented by Senator Brophy. The amendment excluded families operating under the home education statute from the minimum and maximum compulsory attendance requirements.

With only two weeks left in the session, not only did the amendment excluding homeschoolers pass, the bill was also changed to reduce the expansion of the compulsory attendance age. For public and private school students, the maximum attendance age was reduced from 18 to 17; the minimum attendance age was raised from 6 back to 7!

This means that only those families operating their home education program under a private satellite school will be subject to the one-year increase (instead of three-year increase) in the compulsory attendance age. Those operating under the homeschool statute will remain under the same compulsory attendance age requirements (7-16) as before.

The bill has not been signed by the Governor yet, so there is a still a chance it can be defeated completely. HSLDA has sent out another e-lert requesting families to call the Governor opposing this bill.

 Other Resources

Senate Bill 73: Expanding the Compulsory Attendance Age