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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

Calls Needed to Stop Unnecessary Regulation of D.C. Homeschoolers.
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Calls are needed immediately to stop what would be one of the most onerous changes to homeschool regulations anywhere. The District of Columbia is poised to enact restrictive homeschool regulations. One particularly onerous provision in Section 5208 gives the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) the discretion to terminate a homeschool program. The section then requires that parents re-enroll their children in a public or private school at the discretion of the OSSE. This approach fails to duly respect a parent's fundamental right to educate their children and gives the government too much authority and discretion. Even if you do not live in the District of Columbia, we are asking you to call because the federal government has jurisdiction over the city and HSLDA has exhausted all our behind-the-scenes efforts to seek reasonable accommodations for homeschoolers in D.C. If we do not act collectively as a homeschool community, these regulations will go into effect and severely restrict homeschool freedom for District homeschoolers and potentially set a damaging precedent.

Action Requested

Please call the people listed below and express your opposition in your own words. Be concise and courteous. Here is an example:

"If enacted, the proposed D.C. homeschooling regulations would be among the most onerous in the country. They give too much discretion and authority to education officials to determine whether a family may homeschool. We support the D.C. homeschoolers' request that the OSSE and other education officials continue to work to improve the regulations, in ways such as removing the high school diploma requirement, increasing assessment options (if indeed any are needed), and providing for real due process in the event of a dispute between homeschoolers and education officials."

The regulations should not be passed in their current form. Please ask the OSSE to go back and work with homeschoolers to improve them. Read an analysis of the proposed D.C. regulations >>

Office of the Mayor

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty
Phone: (202) 727-2980
Email webpage >>

Victor Reinoso
Mayor for Education
Phone: (202) 727-3636
Email: victor.reinoso@dc.gov

Office of the State Superintendent

Deborah A. Gist
State Superintendent of Education
Phone: (202) 727-6436
Email: Deborah.gist@dc.gov

Fonda Sutton
Director of Policy, Research and Analysis
Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Phone: (202) 727-9882
Email: fonda.sutton@dc.gov

D.C. State Board of Education

Robert Bobb
Elected Board Member
Term Expires December 2008
Email: Robert.Bobb@dc.gov

William Lockridge
Elected Board Member
District 4 Member (Wards 7 & 8)
Term Expires December 2008
Email: William.Lockridge@dc.gov

Lisa Raymond
Elected Board Member
District 3 Member (Wards 5 & 6)
Term Expires December 2008
Email: Lisa.Raymond@dc.gov

Laura Slover
Appointed Board Member
Email: Laura.Slover@dc.gov

Ted Trabue
Appointed Board Member
Term Expires December 2008
Email: Ted.Trabue@dc.gov

Sekou Biddle
Elected Board Member
District 2, Wards 3 & 4
Email: Sekou.biddle@dc.gov

Mary Lord
Elected Board Member District 1 (Wards 1 & 2)
Email: Mary.lord@dc.gov

Background

  1. Responding to the Banita Jacks case, the District of Columbia embarked on a crackdown of homeschoolers. D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty publicly promised to regulate homeschooling. Read "Tragedy Prompts Calls for Heightened Scrutiny of Homeschoolers."
  2. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has authority to propose regulations and did work with HSLDA and other D.C. homeschoolers. They agreed to include certain language and provisions. However, the published regulations fail to deliver on assurances and promises that were given to D.C. homeschoolers.
  3. Numerous homeschool families have testified before the State Board of Education (SBOE) and received high praise from Board members. The State Board has authority to approve the proposed regulations. In its hearing, the State Board was interested and seemed receptive to finding a solution that dealt fairly with homeschoolers. We want them to direct the OSSE to go back and work with homeschoolers to improve the regulations further.
  4. Current D.C. regulations call for parents to simply notify the District that they are homeschooling. We support this approach as an excellent way to solve the current impasse. Thank you for standing with us for homeschooling freedom!

Sincerely,
Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

Support College Access Bill

Calls needed on College Access Bill.
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Calls are needed to help a college access bill coming up for a hearing this Wednesday, March 19.

Delegate James E. Malone Jr.'s excellent House Bill 1077 gives homeschoolers the same access to free or reduced-cost college classes that public and private school students now enjoy. It is available to lower income students who have not finished their high school program, but are ready for college-level classes. HSLDA and the Christian Home Educators Network worked closely to draft a bill that would accomplish its laudable goals without causing other problems.

ACTION REQUESTED

  1. Please call members of the House Ways and Means Committee (see list below) before noon Wednesday. If your last name begins with A-G, call those in group 1. If your last name begins with H-M, call group. If it begins with N-S, call group 3. If it begins with T-Z, call group 4.
  2. In addition, if your own delegate is listed, call him or her regardless of what group they are in. To find the name of your delegate, use our Legislative Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox.
  3. You can use the "Background" information below to develop your own thoughts, or your message can be as simple as, "Please support H.B. 1077. It will level the playing field by giving lower-income homeschool families the same access to reduced-fee college classes that all other students now have."
  4. If you wish to come to the hearing and testify, you will need to arrive by 12:30 and sign up. If you want to submit written testimony, give 35 copies to the Committee staff by noon. Although the hearing starts at 1 p.m., many other bills will also be heard that day. This bill could come up very early in the hearing, or it could come up for consideration at 5 p.m. The location is Room 130, House Office Building, Annapolis. Because parking in the area is extremely limited, most people park at the Navy stadium ($5) and take the free shuttle, so allow extra time.

BACKGROUND

The Maryland Legislature recently created a grant program for two- and four-year Maryland colleges, allowing them to provide free or reduced-rate college classes to students with financial need who were still enrolled in high school. The program recognizes that some high school-age students are ready for the challenge of college-level work--something the homeschool community knows very well.

The problem with the new program was that the student had to be enrolled in a secondary school. Maryland homeschool students are not considered to be "enrolled in a school," so they were excluded from the program. H.B. 1077 fixes that by giving homeschool students the same access as all others.

H.B. 1077 does not give special treatment to homeschoolers. It simply gives us equal access to a taxpayer-funded program.

ACCESS TO PUBLIC SCHOOL SPORTS AND CLASSES

A bill that would give schools authority, at their discretion, to allow homeschoolers to participate in academic classes or extracurricular activities, will also receive a hearing during the 1 p.m. hearing. Delegate Smiegiel's House Bill 1249 was originally problematic because it included a definition of "homeschooling" that conflicted with state law. We have received assurances from the delegate's office that the troublesome definition will be replaced with one consistent with state law. We will review the new language as soon as it is available.

HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Group 1

Sheila Hixson, Chair
(410) 841-3469

Ann Doory, Vice-Chair
(410) 841-3476

Joseph Bartlett
(410) 841-3080

Kumar Barve
(410) 841-3464

Jon Cardin
(410) 841-3833

Group 2

D. Page Elmore
(410) 841-3433

C. William Frick
(410) 841-3454

Ron George
(410) 841-3439

James Gilchrist
(410) 841-3744

Carolyn Howard
(410) 841-3919

Group 3

Jolene Ivey
(410) 841-3478

J. B Jennings
(410) 841-3698

Anne Kaiser
(410) 841-3036

Susan Krebs
(410) 841-3200

Peter Murphy
(410) 841-3247

Group 4

John Olszewski
(410) 841-3458

Craig Rice
(410) 841-3090

Justin Ross
(410) 841-3652

Melvin Stukes
(410) 841-3544

Frank Turner
(410) 841-3246

Jay Walker
(410) 841-3581

Thank you for standing with us for liberty!

Sincerely,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney