Public hearings for HB 367 and HB 368 were held on February 11, 2009.
About 1,000 people turned out to show their disapproval of these two bills.
The House Education Committee met in executive session on March 5, 2009 to decide whether to recommend ITL or OTP these bills. HB 367 was deemed ITL which means the committee recommends against it. HB 368 has not yet had a report, and is retained in committee for further discussion.
HB 367 will be up for a full floor vote on March 24, 2009.
Please call the House Education Committee to ask them to OPPOSE HB 368 and call or email your own Legislators and ask they OPPOSE both these bills regardless of the reports that came from the committee.
If enacted, HB 367 would make New Hampshire’s homeschool law one of the most restrictive in the country. Because of its scope, the bill would create new burdens on homeschoolers and participating agencies.
“HB 367 and 368 should be voted ITL. A majority of last year’s homeschool study commission voted not to change the law. RSA 193-A was drafted in 1990 with all stakeholders involved, but it appears that Representative Day has ignored the recommendations of the commission and consulted none of the stakeholders for input about her proposed legislation. This bill is misguided and unnecessary. Twenty years of experience show that the New Hampshire home school law works well–no changes are needed or wanted. A growing body of national research continues to show that homeschooling works and produces superior academic results. Research also shows that there is no positive correlation between increased regulation and performance. This bill would impose unnecessary and harmful restrictions on homeschoolers in New Hampshire where there is no evidence to suggest any change is needed. For this and other reasons please vote ITL on H.B. 367 and 368.”
Here is what this Bill will do:
– Instead of having four methods to comply with the annual assessment requirement, EVERY homeschooler EVERY year will have to submit to BOTH standardized testing AND a portfolio evaluation administered by a “credentialed educator”.
– Superintendent or non-public school principals would be required to review BOTH test results AND the portfolio evaluation to determine IF a home educated in the opinion of the superintendent or nonpublic school principle” has demonstrated satisfactory “academic growth” and MAY continue without probation.
– Following a one year probation the superintendent or non public school principal would be able to terminate a home education program. The program would be able to appeal to the State Board of Education whose decision would be FINAL.
– New Hampshire homeschoolers would have to pay for two evaluations instead of just one. Participating agencies would have to use their scarce and valuable time to comply with unnecessary bureaucratic filing requirements for no goo d reason.
– Parents would not be allowed to choose the best method of assessment for their student.
– Superintendents and principles would have to use their own subjective judgment to determine whether a student has demonstrated “academic growth”.
– The bill creates undefined terms (Such as “credentialed educator” and “academic growth”) that would increase the chances of arbitrary decision making by superintendents or principals who would have to use their own subjective opinion to decide whether home education programs are put on probation or terminated.
New Hampshire’s homeschool law was passed in 1990 after much deliberation among all stakeholders including homeschoolers, public education officials, and legislators. The next year, in 1991, the New Hampshire legislature amended the home school law to add a statement of purpose
“The general court recognizes, in the enactment of RSA 193-A…that it is the primary right and obligation of a parent to choose the appropriate educational alternative for a child…The general court further recognizes that home education is more individualized instruction that instruction normally provided in the classroom setting.”
The law has been modified slightly since. Then in 2008 a legislative commission formed by SB 337 to examine to see if changes were needed in the law voted 4-2 with one abstention by the chairman, NOT to make changes to the home school law. In the face of this vote and a lack of substantive data indicating any problem to be solved at all (never mind that the current draft not only does not SOLVE a problem but would create a host of other problems) Representative Day has proposed radical changes to the law in the form of HB 367 and HB 368.
In the surrounding states of Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine, the last 20 years have seen great conflict between homeschoolers and the government over how much involvement by the government is appropriate. In Massachusetts there have been two Supreme Court cases and a number of lower level court cases–even today there is constant friction between homeschoolers and local school officials. In Vermont there are dozens of hearings every year over usually minor issues of administration and paperwork at the State level. In 2003, Maine finally reduced the amount of regulation on homeschoolers and switched its law from approval to a “notice of intent” because of the problems. In stark contrast, New Hampshire has enjoyed a healthy relationship between homeschoolers and the government because of the respect the law creates options to partner with a non public school and to choose from among four different options to comply with the annual assessment.
In the United States of America only a minority of the states require ANY assessment of home educated students. Of those that do not a single state requires both a standardized test AND a portfolio every year. Only Pennsylvania, one of the most restrictive in the country, requires both a portfolio and test and that only during grade 3, 5 and 8 a total of 3 years of the student’s entire educational career.
HB 367 and HB 368 are unnecessary. The bills impose a needless burden on homeschoolers and shift authority to determine whether a child should be homeschooled from parents to others. Parents have a fundamental right under the United States Constitution to direct the upbringing and education of their children, and legislation like Representative Day’s undermines this right by going against the presumption that parents act in their children’s best interest.