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Schedule Set for September Subcommittee Meetings on Three Home Education or Parental Instruction Bills

Work Session dates have been scheduled to discuss the outcome of three bills to change the NH Home Education law.  Legislators will meet on September 6th and 13th at 10 am in the Legislative Office Building, Room 207.  The public is welcome to attend and listen.  It is very important for homeschooling parents to follow what transpires at these two work sessions as the committee may propose legislation to be introduced to the House in the fall.

HB 301 Bill Title: amending the home education statutes.

HB 545 Bill Title: repealing the department of education's rulemaking authority for home education programs.

HB 595 Bill Title: amending the compulsory school attendance statutes to permit parent-directed instruction programs and repealing the home education statutes.

8/17/2011 H Retained Bill - Subcommittee Work Session: 9/6/2011 10:00 AM LOB 207
8/17/2011 H Retained Bill - Subcommittee Work Session: 9/13/2011 10:00 AM LOB 207

In June House Education Committee Chairman Michael Balboni (R) appointed the study committee for the three retained homeschooling bills (HB 301-Parison; HB 545-Bates; HB 595-L.Jones).  Rep. Ralph Boehm (R) will Chair the study group; Rep. Joseph Pitre (R), Barbara Shaw (D) and Kathleen Lauer-Rago (R) will also be on the study committee.

Honey Puterbaugh for State Rep

Barriington -- Strafford -- Farmington -- New Durham -- Middleton -- Milton

Special Election on August 9th

Honey Puterbaugh supports Parental Rights. "It is the responsibility and choice of the parent to determine how their child will be raised." She also believes that the parent should determine how best to educate their child.  She supports "the rights of families and local communities to pursue means of education outside of the public school system, including charter schools, private schools, and home schooling."

You can make a donation to her Honey%20Puterbaugh.jpgcampaign, give some time, or do nothing and let some anti-family candidate win the seat.  Do they really need any more influence than they already have in Concord? 

Honey is a solid small government candidate who will do her best to keep the state off your back and out of your face. As a homeschooler, she supports real choice in education.

Don't fall asleep at the wheel.  Get out and support this great candidate for the New Hampshire House.  Remember.... the alternative is another lock-step, sovereignty killing, busy-body, nanny-state supporter. 

For more information, please check out her website.

HB 542 Passed House & Senate and Now Goes to the Governor for his Signature or Veto

A revised bill passed the House (240-108) and the Senate (19-5). It does not allow parents to unilaterally opt out of public school courses or programs based upon rights of conscience as approved by the House.

The Senate's revision requires that school districts adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent’s determination that it's objectionable.   However, and this is the troublesome part, the bill requires the district's approval of the parent's alternative materials.  Does anyone believe that districts will suddenly work cooperatively to allow parents to opt out, en masse if necessary, replacing objectionable school materials at the parent's own expense, of course?

If the bill isn't vetoed by the governor, a number of legislators have agreed to work again next year on this issue to resolve these problems. 

Sen. Jim Forsythe would like to clarify that the district should not be allowed to disapprove the parent's alternative materials, only determine whether the use of these materials will enable the child to receive school credit.  Many times receiving school credit is unnecessary; other times it may be useful in order to receive a high school diploma.  These two cases need to be considered separately.

In the House, Rep. JR Hoell has introduced legislation to work on and resolve this issue.  Rep. Laura Jones and Keith Murphy also support parental rights of conscience, along with Rep. Seth Cohn and Mark Warden. 

Please support the efforts of these legislators to get this issue resolved next year.

HB 542: Parental Rights Hijacked --> Kill the Bill

In violation of House rules, allowing the prime sponsor of a bill to be heard prior to action by a Committee of Conference, Chairman Balboni refused to allow Rep. Hoell to be heard on HB 542 as it was hijacked and completely replaced by a Senate amendment,  reversing the intent of the bill.  

House rule #49 (h)  The prime sponsor of any bill or resolution referred to committee of conference shall, upon request, be granted a hearing before said committee prior to action on the bill or resolution.

 

The Senate’s amendment tramples the right of parents to determine and direct the education of their child.  Supporters argue that this new language protects “local control” while requiring that parents seek district approval and meet State adequacy requirements.  There’s little concern that districts may censor the parent’s alternative materials, especially in such controversial situations.

Senate amendment agreed upon by the Committee of Conference:

RSA 186:11 by inserting after paragraph IX-b the following new paragraph:

            IX-c.  Require school districts to adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent’s or legal guardian’s determination that the material is objectionable. Such policy shall include a provision requiring the parent or legal guardian to notify the school principal or designee in writing of the specific material to which they object and a provision requiring an alternative agreed upon by the school district and the parent, at the parent’s expense, sufficient to enable the child to meet state requirements for education in the particular subject area.  The name of the parent or legal guardian and any specific reasons disclosed to school officials for the objection to the material shall not be public information and shall be excluded from access under RSA 91-A.

 

HB 542 as passed by the House:

Amend RSA 193:1 by inserting after paragraph IV the following new paragraph:

            V. No school district shall compel a parent to send his or her child to any school or program to which he or she may be conscientiously opposed nor shall a school district approve or disapprove a parent’s education program or curriculum.

Instead of recognizing the parent’s Constitutional right to opt-out of public school programs to which the parent may be conscientiously opposed, now HB 542 requires the district to adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course “materials,” requiring the parent make a written request seeking district approval for his alternative “materials.”

Instead of guaranteeing the parent’s political independence from the district by prohibiting the district from approving or disapproving the parent’s replacement program in keeping with RSA 186:11, suddenly the parent must meet state adequacy requirements for his alternative “materials.”

Given that these “materials” are provided at the parent’s expense, this is a disturbing precedent, requiring district approval for a non-public program or “materials.”  Instead of empowering parents, this bill burdens parents.  HB 542 must be killed.

Ask your State Senators to Support Parental Rights in HB 542 and HB 429 on Wednesday, June 1st

 

NH Families for Education asks your support for Parental Rights in two important bills: HB 542, which has been tabled by the Senate, and HB 429.  Please call or email your senator for their vote.

The opposition to HB 542 suggests that compulsory attendance would end if HB 542 passes, but that’s not true.  If that were, it would have ended decades ago when RSA 186:11 XXIX was enacted for it contains the  same language.  HB 542 was modeled upon RSA 186:1 XXIX.

NH RSA 186:11 Duties of State Board of Education.

XXIX. Adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to reasonable criteria for approving non-public schools for the purpose of compulsory attendance requirements. The rules may contain criteria for conditional approval as specified by the state board. The state board of education may, upon request, designate which schools meet those criteria, and may, upon the request of a non-public school, approve or disapprove its education program and curriculum.

Despite regulation which exceeds statutory authority, state law does not allow the NH Department of Education to approve or disapprove the academic programs of non-public schools without the explicit request of the non-public school for such a review.

HB 542 affords parents this same statutory protection from State interference.  The State may not control non-public programs.  When parents object to public school programs, where is the alternative if the district must also approve the parent’s alternative program?  The purpose of this bill is to remove control from the district and give it to parents should they encounter a program which they are conscientiously opposed.  Parents must be allowed to determine and provide their own alternative in such cases.

RSA 186:11 XXIX was written as the fulfillment of Art. 6, Pt. 1 of the NH Constitution which guarantees districts political independence from State interference.  Parents need similar protection from interference, especially in the current political environment where districts are trading their constitutional guarantee of independence from the state in exchange for funding.  Non-public alternatives are the only refuge for parents who have a conscientious opposition to particular public school programs.

HB 542 adds the following: RSA 193:1 V.(a) No school district shall compel a parent to send his or her child to any school or participate in a course or program in a school’s curriculum to which he or she may be conscientiously opposed, nor shall a school district approve or disapprove a parent’s education program or curriculum.

The Senate should also support Parental Rights in HB 429, an act allowing parents to withdraw their 16 year olds from public school and find their own alternative educational experiences.

State control of education without a provision for conscientious objection can only end in State indoctrination of our children. This is not an acceptable. 

Please support Parental Rights by voting in support of HB 542 and HB 429 on Wednesday, June 1st.

NH Families for Education will be evaluating legislators based on their voting record on these and other important education bills which uphold parental rights.

Thank you.

The U.S. Department of Education is Breaking the Law; Pass It On

From Linda Dobson's website: <www.parentatthehelm.com> 

PARENT AT THE HELM - Empowering parents to provide children with Education

 

The U.S. Department of Education

is Breaking the Law; Pass It On

If you’ve watched news about education over the last few decades, and you’ve noticed that the U. S. Department of Education has paid for and, therefore, taken over more and more control of what goes on in the classroom, it may come as no surprise that they have officially crossed the line and begun engaging in illegal activity.

Jail cells Department of EducationThis news came courtesy of a blog post titled “The U. S. Department of Education is Breaking the Law” by Jay P. Greene. So that you can check out the law yourself, he shared a link to the Department of Education Organization Act 1979 so that you may read it for yourself.

What the Department of Education Says It’s Doing

Interestingly, the admission of guilt comes directly from a U. S. Department of education spokesman, Peter Cunningham, to wit:

“Just for the record: we are for high standards, not national standards and we are for a well-rounded curriculum, not a national curriculum. There is a big difference between funding development of curriculum—which is something we have always done—and mandating a national curriculum—which is something we have never done. And yes—we believe in using incentives to advance our agenda.”

As Mr. Greene astutely notes, we don’t even have to get into the semantics game of bribes, excuse me, incentives for various states to come around to the curriculum the Department of Education is funding. Instead, let’s look at the law’s Section 103b.

What the Law Says The U. S. Department of Education Shouldn’t Be Doing

No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law.” (emphasis added)

The $64,000 dollar question is, how does the U. S. Department of Education fund curriculum development without exercising direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum ? Doesn’t he who pays the piper call the tune?

It could be argued that, due to standardized test content and favored textbook publishers, the public schools already have something akin to a one-size-fits-all curriculum invading classrooms across the country. But, as the “Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and the U. S. Department of Education’s Initiative to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments” points out, there are multiple reasons a national curriculum “does not meet the criteria for sound public policy.”

First, there is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula.

Second, there is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.

Third, the national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate.

Fourth, there is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject.

Fifth, there is no evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students.

And I’ll add a sixth especially for homeschooling parents: A national curriculum would become part of many, if not most, state laws or regulations for you, too. You are invited to sign the Critical Response to a national curriculum at the link above, and to share the news with all individuals in case they believe the points above regarding a national curriculum.

(See also National Curriculum Coming to a School Near You.”)

Besides, who you gonna call about this illegal activity? The Critical Response is probably the only way to get the U. S. Department of Education to stop breaking the law – at least for a little while.

 

 

U.S. Department of Education Ignores the Law

Do federal incentives, which cause various state to implement the curriculum the U.S. Department of Education is funding, violate federal law?

 

U.S. Code TITLE 20 > CHAPTER 48 > SUBCHAPTER I > § 3403

 

§ 3403. Relationship with States

 (a) Rights of local governments and educational institutions

It is the intention of the Congress in the establishment of the Department to protect the rights of State and local governments and public and private educational institutions in the areas of educational policies and administration of programs and to strengthen and improve the control of such governments and institutions over their own educational programs and policies. The establishment of the Department of Education shall not increase the authority of the Federal Government over education or diminish the responsibility for education which is reserved to the States and the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the States.

(b) Curriculum, administration, and personnel; library resources

No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law.

(c) Funding under pre-existing programs

The Secretary shall not, during the period within eight months after May 4, 1980, take any action to withhold, suspend, or terminate funds under any program transferred by this chapter by reason of the failure of any State to comply with any applicable law requiring the administration of such a program through a single organizational unit.

CACR 12 and CACR 14: Anti-Parent and Anti-Local Control Amendments

Two Constitutional amendments have been proposed this year, nominally to resolve the Claremont funding crisis.

  • The House proposed CACR 12, which states “… the general court shall have the authority and full discretion to define reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education, to establish reasonable standards of accountability….”
  • The Senate proposed CACR 14, which states “…the general court shall have the authority, responsibility and discretion to define reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education, to establish reasonable standards of accountability….”

The proposals are nearly identical.  House leadership claims that their amendment “restores local control of our schools by taking our Courts out of the education discussion.  This will ensure that education decisions will be made by parents, teachers, school boards and students.” 

This claim is not true. The goal of both amendments is the same as the Court’s: to trample the inalienable right of the People to local control over education. 

Does anyone believe that an activist Court will behave with the passage of an amendment? Remember that the Court admonished bar members for speaking out against Claremont.  Justice Brock claimed that “criticism [of the Court] is dangerous in a free society, for it will erode public respect for and confidence in the judicial system and the rule of law, which are the foundation of our society.”  The Court is willing to trample the People’s inalienable right of free speech as collateral damage in order to obtain its goal.  That’s not reasonable behavior.  Why should anything change?

Republican leadership is now uniting behind these amendments, urging the Legislature to trample the People’s inalienable right to local control as collateral damage in its battle against the Supreme Court. How does that rectify anything?

Remember, the Supreme Court has no Executive power to enforce its will and no Legislative power to fund its agenda.  It needs the cooperation of the other two branches of government to do so.  Without such cooperation, the Court is powerless.  Until now, the Executive and Legislature have gone along with the Court.  They are under no obligation to do so.  To say that “the Claremont decisions took primary and secondary education out of local control” is to concede that the Supreme Court can order around both the Executive and Legislature.  It is a bald statement that ‘We the People’ are governed by a tyrannical Oligarchy that our representatives lack the courage to oppose.  That too would not change with the passage of a Constitutional amendment.

It’s pretty clear. The goal of these amendments is the same as the Court’s: to trample the inalienable right of the People to local control over education. 

The overwhelming Republican majority in the Legislature could overturn Claremont, if leadership had the will to lead instead of follow the Court.  Apparently they lack the will to do so. Thus, their amendments vest the State government with additional “responsibility” (CACR 14) and “full discretion” (CACR 12) over education and eliminate local control. 

If adopted, the State Legislature, for the first time in New Hampshire history, will have Constitutional authority to define education standards and establish measures of accountability for our public schools.  Granted the Legislature has already quietly usurped this authority via statutory initiatives without any Constitutional basis, but with this amendment they will finally have that authority. Local control will be obliterated. Power over education will finally be centralized at the State level.

Reigning in an activist Court is a laudable goal, but that’s clearly not what being proposed, despite protests to the contrary.   Similar to what happened in 1968 when Article 6, Pt. I was amended, nominally “to remove obsolete sectarian references,” a far more substantive and deceptive change is being proposed without any disclosure to the public.  These proposed amendments usurp local control, while proponents claim the opposite: that these amendments “restore local control.” 

In 1968 public discussion focused upon the removal of 3 “obsolete sectarian references” (specifically, the terms “evangelical”, “Deity”, and “protestant”) although in all 157 words were removed.  No disclosure was ever made regarding the elimination of the local district’s “Exclusive” right to control their schools by electing and contracting with teachers. 

Keep in mind that when Article 6 was written in 1784 electing and contracting with teachers was the accepted method by which public schools were controlled.  There were no State or federal mandates defining curriculums, standards or accountability.  Schools were controlled by local teachers. This Constitutional guarantee in Article 6 was written to protect the People of New Hampshire from Acts of Uniformity like they faced in England in the 1550’s and like they are now facing with CACR 12 and CACR 14 in 2011.

Why would anyone remove an “Exclusive” right without any public discussion in 1968?  Review of the newspapers and journals of the day indicate that there was no discussion on the removal of this precious Constitutional guarantee of political independence of the towns and cities from State interference.  Given that the public wasn’t informed, the intention of the Constitution can be argued to remain intact.  But, if a second amendment is adopted, this time explicitly transferring control from the local district to the State to define “standards” and establish measures of “accountability,” any hope of retaining the political independence of the towns and cities from State interference will be eliminated.  That is why it is so crucial to oppose CACR 12 and CACR 14.

Once power is centralized, it’s a practical impossibility to reverse it.  Such is the nature of power.  There will be no protection for the People against an unfavorable Legislature.  It is always safer to empower the People, not the State. Protect local control and avoid centralization of power at all costs.

If the Legislature wants to reign in the Court, it must introduce different language.  In fact, the Constitution should be amended to restore the “Exclusive” right of the towns and cities to protect them from State interference by the Courts as well as the Legislature. The Legislature should not be allowed to define standards and establish measures of accountability as CACR 12 and 14 propose.  These are local prerogatives. It is the inalienable right of the People to act within their communities to control their own public instruction. 

If a grandparent “cherishes” his grandchildren by providing funding for their college education, would he ever propose to attach conditions such that his grandchildren must allow him to define their entire course of study?  Hardly.  Similarly, if the State Legislature wishes to cherish education and provide funding to the towns and cities, let them provide that funding without usurping local control.

Control and funding are separate issues.  We must be very careful to respect the inalienable rights of the People in our cities and towns to direct the education of their children. These Constitutional amendments, CACR 12 and CACR 14, do not respect local control and must be opposed. It’s far more difficult and costly to seek the approval of hundreds of State Legislators than that of a half dozen school board members. These amendments are anti-parent and anti-local control.

May 2011

Vol. 2, Issue 5

HB 429 -- Another Parental Rights Bill in the Senate

This bill, HB 429, allows a parent to withdraw their 16-18 year old from a school if his feel it’s not in his child’s best interests to continue attending.

This would level playing field for parents.  The current system of alternative learning programs requires administrative approval, which is not always easy to obtain even when there is no cost to the district.

With this bill parents could negotiate with their districts from a position of strength. That alone might encourage more cooperation and reduce the need to withdraw students.

If the state continues taking more power and independence from parents, it may end up with docile subjects, but not citizens. 

Citizens are individuals who actively take part in their government.  Stripping parents of their constitutional right to direct the education of their children undermines the long term interests of the state.  In protecting children from a potential harm that some parents might pose, the state has destroyed parental participation.

Parents are practical.  If they see no way to control the education of their children, many become disinterested and no longer play an active role. That’s self-defense and the natural result of excessive state intervention.

On the other hand, some parents are not so easy to put off.  They are finding their own solutions.  Many parents  have removed their children from public schools over the last 30 years.  They’re part of that grassroots movement called homeschooling, which is a direct response to the loss of local control within our schools. 

Our local control has been exchanged for federal dollars and federal programs, which cost taxpayers far more money in the long run.  Adding middlemen to education undermines its flexibility, efficiency and cost.  Looks at the results of homeschoolers is there is any doubt about downsizing and efficiency.

This bill provides a level playing field for parents in one small aspect of public education. While the State may have an interest in the education of its citizens, the rights of responsible  parent command priority.

Restoring parental control allows parents to negotiate with school administrators as equals, which will encourage interaction and cooperation.

Please ask your state Senator to stand on principle and vote HB 429 Ought to Pass.

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