Hundreds of parents and children flocked to the New Hampshire capitol in March to oppose a bill that would have undermined a key component of their homeschool programs—the ability to customize curriculum to meet students’ individual needs.

Their opposition succeeded, as the bill is now dead.

The measure is one of 19 bills in 11 states that HSLDA has asked members to monitor or take action on so far this year.

The New Hampshire bill posed a particular affront to homeschooling by proposing regulations that were not merely unfair but conflicted with existing law.

H.B. 1610 mandated that all students—including homeschoolers—take the New Hampshire Statewide Assessment System (NHSAS) exam, which is designed to test public school students over their specific curricula.

“This bill would have made New Hampshire one of the worst states in the nation for homeschool testing laws,” HSLDA Senior Counsel Will Estrada said.

Confusing Requirement

According to the bill, homeschool students would be required to take the NHSAS exam once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. Homeschool students, unlike students enrolled in public school, would have no provision for opting out of the exam.

The testing mandate was also redundant, as state homeschool law already requires parents to assess their students every year. As one option for complying with the current regulation, parents may choose to administer any national student achievement test, for example, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

It’s not clear how H.B. 1610 would have affected this range of choices in testing.

One Voice

Many of the 500 homeschooling parents and students who attended the March 4 public hearing on the bill described its various flaws. The crowd filled the main committee room at the statehouse and spilled over into several other chambers.

Joel Grewe, executive director of HSLDA Action, attended the hearing as well. In his comments to lawmakers, Grewe focused on how the bill would force homeschool parents to adopt curriculum that aligns with what public schools teach—just to prepare their children for the NHSAS exam.

“This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what homeschooling families want and what they do,” Grewe said. Many who attended the hearing agreed.

“This infringes on our rights as homeschool parents and students,” said Jacqueline Garcia, who was cited by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The newspaper also quoted Michelle Levell, director and co-founder of Granite State Home Educators, telling lawmakers, “There is no compelling reason for this bill.”

According to another news source, homeschooling parent Amanda Weeden warned legislators that H.B. 1610 would be disastrous.

“I want nothing to do with government money and extreme oversight,” she said, noting that the funding program the legislation promoted “is not transparent, and people are waking up to the long-term implications.”

Grewe added that the bill would especially harm homeschool students with special needs. Many of these children were withdrawn from traditional schools because their parents felt that homeschooling offered greater opportunities for tailored learning programs. Forcing these families into a uniform course of study would nullify this benefit.

The bill also contained no consideration for homeschooling students who may need special accommodations when taking the standardized exam—such as extra time, scribes for transferring answers to test sheets, or customized digital tools. Public school students are guaranteed this right by state code.

Defending Freedom

Grewe said the voices of homeschoolers definitely had an effect. In several hours of testimony before the House Education Committee, the only person who spoke in favor of H.B. 1610 was its sponsor. Two days later, committee members voted unanimously against the bill.

“This incredible victory occurred only because you stood up for homeschool freedom,” Estrada wrote in an email announcing the presumed defeat of the bill. “Thank you for making your voices heard!”

This favorable result reflects other legislative triumphs by homeschool advocates across the nation this year. In Oklahoma, for example, a crowd of 1,200 parents and students who visited the capitol in February persuaded lawmakers to defeat House Bill 4130. This measure would have required parents to request approval and undergo background checks in order to homeschool.

HSLDA feels privileged to witness firsthand the power of homeschool families standing up for their rights nationwide.