Hundreds Rally at State House for Homeschool Freedom
by Mike Donnelly • February 13, 2018
The homeschool community of New Hampshire turned out in force recently to oppose a bill under consideration by the House Education Committee.
So many homeschooling moms, dads, and students showed up for the hearing (one account put the number at about 600) that it had to be moved from the committee room to Representatives Hall. And the families still didn’t fit!
They filled the 400 seats on the main floor, flowed into the balcony and out into the hallways. Many testified (including a pair of articulate youngsters), offering personal stories of how homeschooling has benefitted them and why they believe additional government regulation would be unfair and even harmful.
Rolling Back Freedom
H.B. 1263 would require submission of annual homeschool evaluations to a participating agency and allows for termination of a home education program if progress is not satisfactory.
If passed, it would roll back homeschool freedom in New Hampshire to where it was before legislation passed in 2012.
The bill was introduced at the request of Berlin School District Superintendent Corinne Cascadden, one of a handful of people at the hearing who spoke in favor of the bill.
According to The Union Leader, Cascadden told the committee that “New Hampshire has a problem at the moment with parents who don’t send their kids to school and don’t homeschool them in actual fact.”
She also insinuated that homeschooling may contribute to child neglect.
I countered this accusation by telling the committee that, according to a noted federal study, homeschooling is not a risk factor for child abuse or neglect. I also submitted a 700-page document citing the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities as well as journalists and researchers pointing out the successes of homeschooling—and its legitimate role as a manifestation of parental rights.
Sending a Powerful Message
Without a doubt, though, the most powerful voices for homeschooling at the hearing were the parents and well-mannered children of all ages. Their thoughtfully prepared testimony was compelling, and I could tell the Education Committee members were impressed with the sincere and powerful personal stories.
As one mother of six told me, in an admission that encapsulates the fervor and practicality of home-educating parents: “We’re here because we’re passionate about keeping homeschooling as free as possible.” She added, with a laugh: “And we had the opportunity to turn this into a field trip.”
I am sure the Education Committee will remember this event for years to come. And I’m optimistic committee members will do the right thing and vote against H.B. 1262.