Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tough Homeschool Regs Considered in New Hampshire

The homeschool community is reacting with alarm to plans for a vote in the New Hampshire legislature as early as this week that could create restrictive new testing and reporting requirements for homeschoolers in the state.

-- From "Home school proposal too strict, parents say" by Karen Langley, Concord Monitor 1/12/10

The home school contingent . . . protesters cited the 14-6 vote of the House Education Committee to kill the bill as evidence that all but a few legislators agree that existing laws suffice.

Changes supported by the six dissenting members would intensify those laws. The change critics most frequently cite would require children each year to both submit a portfolio of their work for review and take a standardized test; families now choose between the two. The amended bill would require parents to submit in writing their intention to educate their child. It would require that instruction in standard academic subjects be "systematic and thorough." And it would require portfolio reviewers to meet with the child and report specific information about themselves and the child's work.

Education Committee Chairwoman Emma Rous said last week that the existing law has holes that allow parents to teach subjects infrequently, bypass the portfolio requirement by opting for standardized tests and, if they are certified teachers, produce reviews of their own children's portfolios.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Judith Day, agreed, saying current law requires too little accountability. Day, a Democrat from North Hampton, said a provision on data collection would allow the state to determine whether students were learning.

A Virginia advocacy group, the Home School Legal Defense Association, has portrayed the legislation as an attempt by Democratic leadership to "sneak through massive changes in New Hampshire homeschool law by manipulating the system," though the amendment specifying the changes was written by Republican Rep. Rick Ladd of Haverhill. Ladd said he supports the changes but no longer considers legislation the right way to enact them.

Critics of the bill say it would make New Hampshire one of the most highly regulated states for home education. Milton Gaither, a historian of education who researches home schooling, said he does not know of any states that require both portfolio reviews and standardized testing. But he said many states have more detailed curriculum requirements.

An Oregon researcher specializing in home education said he has found no correlation between the amount a state regulates home schooling and the academic achievement of home-schooled students.

"The research done by myself and others so far shows zero pattern," said Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Ore. Ray has performed research for the Home School Legal Defense Association.

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From "Democrat assault on homeschoolers looming" © 2010 WorldNetDaily 1/11/10

Democratic leaders are using a legislative maneuver to prepare to advance the piece, after a bipartisan legislative study committee voted 14-6 against forwarding the new homeschool law, House Bill 368.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Shaw, a retired teacher with 45 years experience, wrote the majority report, suggesting the plan is "inexpedient to legislate," or should be rejected.

"After studying this issue for several years, I've gotten to know homeschoolers, the law, and how the system works, and I'm convinced that it is working fine – there are no changes needed," she said.

HSLDA's analysis said the Democrats are trying to move forward a whole new piece of legislation as an amendment to another proposal. It would allow, among other things, state officials to "terminate" a homeschooling program and report a child to the "appropriate resident district superintendent, who shall, if necessary, take appropriate action to ensure that compulsory attendance requirements are met."

The plan would require new tests for every homeschool student, demand a portfolio review and submit test scores to the state Department of Education, which would be given "sweeping rule-making authority" for homeschoolers.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.