Saturday, October 04, 2008

UPDATE Restrictive New Jersey Homeschool Bill

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

New Jersey--Prepare To Oppose Restrictive
Homeschool Bill

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

On September 22, New Jersey Assemblywoman
Sheila Oliver and Assemblyman Harvey Smith
filed a bill that would cause a catastrophic
destruction of homeschool freedom in New Jersey.

For decades, homeschooling in New Jersey has
thrived, producing astonishingly good results
at no taxpayer expense even while public schools
serve up one expensive disappointment after
another. There is no justification to cripple
the most successful form of education in New
Jersey with increased regulation. Studies show
that children do no better in states with heavy
regulatory burdens.

The organizations of the homeschool task force
are united in opposing this bill, A. 3123, and
are developing a unified response. No benefit,
great or small, can possibly compensate for the
loss of freedom. The task force opposes this bill
in every detail. There is no compromise position.
The bill must be defeated.


The time for action will be very soon, but not yet.
Please wait, but
be prepared to take action when
HSLDA recommends it.


These organizations form the homeschool task force:
HSLDA, Catholic
Homeschoolers of New Jersey (Kevin
Kiernan), Eagle Forum of New Jersey
(Carolee Adams),
Education Network Of Christian Homeschoolers of New
Jersey (Mark August), New Jersey Homeschool Association
McVicker), and Unschoolers Network (Nancy Plent).
These same
organizations unified to help stop the
infamous A.B. 4033 in 2004.

A 3123 would do the following:

1. Require an annual notarized letter of intent to
register every homeschooled child.

2. Require parents to list objectives in every
mandatory subject.

3. Require evidence of immunization.

4. Require proof that the children have received
all medical services the law requires.

5. Require a certification that adults in the
home have not committed certain crimes.

6. Require 180 days of instruction.

7. Empower the Commissioner of Education to
decide what subjects are mandatory.

8. Empower the Commissioner of Education to
determine course content "guidelines" starting
in kindergarten.

9. Require that parents keep the following records
and submit them annually to the school district,
and also as often as the superintendent requests,
if he has "reason to believe" the student is not
getting "an appropriate education":

> list of reading materials
> writing samples
> worksheets
> workbooks
> creative materials
> standardized testing in grades 3, 5 and 8
with parents being prohibited from administering
the test)
> an annual evaluation by a person other than
the parent, after an interview and review of
materials. The evaluator must certify the student
is receiving an "appropriate education." The
evaluator must be a: (a) licensed psychologist,
or (b) certified school psychologist, or
c) New Jersey public or private school teacher,
or (d) New Jersey public or private school

10. Empower the superintendent to ask the school
board to terminate homeschooling if he believes
the records (above) show the homeschool program
is "unsatisfactory in providing an adequate education."

11. "Adequate education" is not defined, so the
superintendent and school board have wide latitude
to decide what they think it means.

A. 3123 would turn New Jersey into one of the worst
homeschool states
in the country. The bill is very
similar to Pennsylvania's homeschool
law, which is
generally recognized as the second worst in the nation,
surpassed only by New York's. A. 3123, however,
includes features
that make it even worse than

Some families have stayed in New Jersey and endured
high tax burdens because the homeschool law is
favorable. If A. 3123 passes, some families will
leave the state, reducing the tax base without any
corresponding savings from reduced state or local
education expense. At the same time, the mountain
of paperwork it will create for superintendents
will raise expenses that will ultimately be footed
by the already put-upon taxpayer.

Sincerely Yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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