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January 29, 2008

Legislator Wants to Take Homeschool Law Back to the ‘Dark Ages’!

Nebraska homeschoolers are facing the most serious attack in decades from legislation proposed by Senator DiAnna Schimek. Nebraska’s current law was drafted and passed in the early 1980s after Nebraska was embarrassed nationally for harsh treatment of homeschooling parents, including the jailing of pastors and fathers, and with mothers and children fleeing to other states. During a rally by homeschoolers at the state capitol last year, Senator Schimek was heard to say, “We don't know what these homeschoolers are doing. They really need to be monitored.” She is making good on her concern about not knowing what homeschoolers are up to in the form of L.B.1141.

The bill would do among the following:

  • Impose mandatory annual testing and assessment requirements.
  • Grant the Nebraska Department of Education ("NDE") approval authority.
  • Require first-time homeschooled children to take a “baseline” test allowing the Department to determine whether or not “progress has been achieved.”

If in the opinion of the NDE adequate progress is not achieved, homeschoolers would be placed on a six-month probation after which children could be ordered back into public school or remediated with the approval of the Department.

Today, Nebraska law regulates homeschooling by having parents file annual paperwork establishing a private school. The NDE sends an acknowledgment to parents that it has received their notice of their decision to homeschool. Many states have regulations of this type that serve the interest of the state in ensuring that its citizens are educated and respect the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

Studies have conclusively demonstrated that there is no positive correlation between increased regulation and performance. Further, homeschoolers continue to score higher on national standardized achievement tests than their public and private school peers. This type of proposed regulation is unnecessary and imposes a needless burden on homeschoolers. For more information on studies demonstrating the effectiveness of homeschooling go to HSLDA’s online Issues Library.

HSLDA is preparing to work to defeat this legislation by encouraging members to contact the sponsor and by providing testimony at any hearings opposing this unnecessary and burdensome legislation.

 Other Resources

L.B. 1141: A Solution Looking for a (Non-existent) Problem