Rebecca Millette

News,

Homeschool bills introduced in Illinois and New Hampshire

Rebecca Millette

February 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new bill introduced to the Illinois Senate would change state laws to require homeschooled children to be registered with the State Board of Education.  It is being opposed by homeschooling families and support groups, including the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

HSLDA has called the bill “the greatest threat to Illinois homeschoolers in more than a decade.” 

In Illinois, homeschooling is currently considered a private school option. However, Senate Bill 136 proposes to change the existing law to require that children attending private schools in the state be registered annually with the State Board of Education. 

State Senator Ed Maloney, the bill’s sponsor, told The Illinois Review last week that the bill is specifically aimed at homeschoolers.

“We’re not going for the private school students, we’re going to change that [in the proposal].  What we want to know is where the homeschoolers are.  It’s as simple as that,” said Maloney.

Maloney said the lack of restrictions on homeschooling prompted the bill.  “There is virtually no regulation, no curriculum requirements, no periodic checking on their progress,” he said. “Regional superintendents are telling me that they have no way of determining whether the homeschooled students are truant.”

HSLDA responded, however, that the bill “would give the Illinois Department of Education literally unlimited power to dictate what information homeschoolers must submit.” The organization has strongly encouraged concerned parents to contact their senators.

HSLDA is also encouraging families to attend the Education Committee hearing on the issue, which will be held Tuesday, February 15 at 10:45 a.m. in Room 212 in the state Capitol, Springfield, Ill.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire also faces homeschooling bills that would change the look of homeschooling in the state.  Currently, New Hampshire is one of the most restrictive states regarding homeschooling, requiring annual registration and assessment, as well as the keeping of thorough records of student work for two years.

Three bills concerning homeschooling have been brought to the New Hampshire House this year.  Bills 301, 545, and 595 are currently being merged into one bill that is scheduled for an executive session on February 24.

HSLDA has provided extensive background on each House Bill and supports, or is neutral, on each.

Bill 545 would repeal the Department of Education’s rulemaking authority for home education. 

Bill 301, sponsored by Representative James Parison, a homeschooling father of six and president of Christian Home Educators of New Hampshire (CheNH), goes further than Bill 545, and would create a simpler homeschool law to recognize the rights of parents, require only one notification and protect homeschooling parents’ privacy.

Bill 595 removes “homeschooling” from New Hampshire law in favor of “parent-directed” education, making parents accountable to “determine and direct” their children’s education.

HSLDA has extended its strongest support for Bill 301. They have requested concerned parents to contact the subcommittee that is currently preparing the merged bill to present to the floor, and urge them to adopt the amendments in Bill 301 as the most reasonable approach to homeschooling.

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