Engaged Homeschoolers In Missouri Affect SB706

It’s time for a legislative update. As of Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 there are approximately 1278 pieces of legislation floating through the Missouri state capitol. Some are recycled from previous years and some are duplicates, but there are some very busy legislators with writers cramp in Jefferson City.

Let’s first address the most recent threat to homeschooling freedoms, SB 706.

Jane Cunningham’s office did respond to our requests for edits and your phone calls and emails regarding language in her Race To The Top bill, and how it may affect homeschooling freedom. While her office may not have been happy to have had to address questions, the process is set up to be transparent and accountable to the voters, and it appears that contact from concerned parents/voters/homeschoolers has been productive for homeschooling freedom.

Kit Crancer responds to HU's SB706 alert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A preliminary copy of a revised SB706 shows the offending language has been removed from the edited bill. It is not yet posted on the General Assembly website, so the threat isn’t completely eliminated until the revised bill is approved, but this is a step in the right direction. There are still many other problems with this bill, but none that affect homeschoolers at this time. This bill is one to keep an eye on and we will do so. Since transparency is and should be crucial in the legislative process, we hope Senator Cunningham’s office will make available, publicly, the bill before it makes its way through the approval process. It is imperative for the taxpayers to have a chance to examine this legislative work before it is approved by lawmakers.

HB1133, introduced by Rep. Jay Barnes provides tax credits for educational expenses has been assigned to the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee for approval/review.

SB460, introduced by, Senator, Robyn Wright-Jones is all about compulsory school age and this one moving, slowly, but moving. It has been referred to the Senate Education Committee after its second read. This one requires any child to attend kindergarten when they reach the age of five or earlier if their birthday falls early enough in the school year.

SB483, Senator, Scott Rupp’s bill for scholarships for academically advance public high school students has been approved out of committee and will move on to the senate for debate/approval.

SB527, Senator, Rob Schaaf’s, let’s “consider” homeschoolers for scholarships, bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.

HB1206, Rep. Jay Barnes, homeschooling sports participation bill has been referred to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

Since my last posting, HSLDA has flagged a couple of bills.

HB1610, Rep Jamilah Nasheed has resurrected this bill from last year. In fact, this is the bill, in 2009, that raised compulsory school age for homeschoolers to 17, unless 16 or more high school credits were earned toward graduation. She is now trying to raise the age to 18. This does affect homeschoolers. This bill was introduced on February 1st and has been assigned to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

SB643, Senator Keaveny’s, compulsory school age bill requires children to attend kindergarten at the age of 5 years old in St. Louis City and Kansas City schools. This bill does have language that excludes homeschool students.

Understand that this is a big year for education reform in Jefferson City. While most bills do not specifically address homeschooling, yet, the reform will have far reaching affects in the long term and all parents need to follow what legislators are doing in this regard. Most of the legislation models the Obama administration’s Race To The Top agenda and will ultimately result in loss of local and parental control of your child(ren)’s education.

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Liberals: Don’t Homeschool Your Kids – By Dana Goldstein

Ok, after reading this article, my brain is so overcharged with comment, I can’t slow it down enough to type articulately, my thoughts, so I am posting it here for you to read, and hopefully begin a conversation.

Yet whether liberal or conservative, “[o]ne article of faith unites all homeschoolers: that homeschooling should be unregulated,” Reich writes. “Homeschoolers of all stripes believe that they alone should decide how their children are educated.”

Homeschoolers, that I know, range from one end of the spectrum to the other, politically.   Although, I do agree with the above quote, that we all just wanna be left alone to school and raise our kids the way we see fit, and to leave the government out of it, for the most part.

Enjoy this article and please feel free to comment.

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HSLDA Urges A “NO” Vote On E-Verify In Springfield

Home School Legal Defense issued an alert, today, regarding an initiative on Tuesdays ballot in Springfield, Missouri.

According to HSLDA, homeschooling freedoms are in jeopardy due to the proposed ordinance that will require families use the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify systems to check the citizenship of anyone they may hire to teach their children.

As most homeschool families hire tutors or employ teachers in co-op situations, Scott Woodruff, Senior Council for HSLDA, feels the regulation placed on them, in this situation would, “be a catastrophe for the cause of freedom.” Detail of their alert is posted below.

A proposed ordinance will appear on the City of Springfield ballot that will require you to use the Department of Homeland Security’s system (“E-Verify”) to electronically check the citizenship of any person before you hire him or her to teach your children any subject or skill.

Most homeschool families occasionally hire a teacher or tutor, or teachers in a co-op, to teach their children something worth learning. This is a normal and healthy aspect of homeschooling. But your ability to do this without government regulation will end if the ballot measure passes.

Action Requested

1. Please go to your appropriate polling place on Tuesday and vote “no” on the “E-Verify” ballot measure.

As you would expect from a legal document, the language on the ballot describing this proposal is wordy and complicated. It’s the one that starts off by saying: “Shall the City of Springfield make it unlawful for any business entity, that is any person or group of persons performing or engaging in any activity common enterprise, profession or occupation … ”

About the middle you will see this language: “further, all businesses in the City of Springfield are required to participate in E-Verify to verify the eligibility of all workers and conditional hires … ”

This is the proposal we urge you to vote “no” on!

2. Since time is short and the election is very close, please pass this on to your friends.

Background

You might think that the proposed ordinance would only apply to businesses. Unfortunately, the ordinance defines “business entity” to include “any person” doing “any activity” for any (undefined) “benefit” or (undefined) “advantage.” Every adult and child in the city of Springfield would therefore come under the definition of “business entity” (See section 2.A. of the ordinance) and be subject to city regulation (See section 3.B of the ordinance).

You might think that churches or clubs would be exempt. They are not. “Business entity” is specifically defined to include any not-for-profit group. This means your church, your hunting club, your missions organization, your ALERT or AWANA group, your neighborhood association, your homeschool co-op, your state, regional, and national homeschool support groups, etc., would be subject to this regulation. (See section 2.A. of the ordinance.)

You might think that if you or your group hires someone to do something that is not really “work,” you would be exempt. Unfortunately, the ordinance defines “work” to include “all activities” conducted by a business entity. As already explained, every man, woman and child in Springfield comes under the definition of “business entity.” Therefore every single activity of every single man, woman and child in Springfield would potentially be subject to this regulation. (See section 2.F of the ordinance.)

If you hire anyone to babysit your kids, mow your lawn, rake your leaves, give a talk to your group, shovel the snow off your sidewalk, walk your dog, etc., you would be subject to city regulation. If your kids try to sell lemonade on the sidewalk or your baseball team wants to wash cars for donations to buy uniforms, it would be subject to city regulation. If your Boy Scout troop wants to sell popcorn or your Girl Scout troop wants to sell cookies, they would come under city regulation.

Your church could not hire a pastor, secretary, or choir director without coming under city regulation. You could not “hire” your own kids to do household chores without coming under city regulation. The scope of this ordinance and its attempt to micromanage economic activity at the most humble level is simply breathtaking.

If you are shaking your head in disbelief, I challenge you to read the text of the ordinance yourself. You can find it here >>

Here is a link to the complete language you will see on the ballot on Tuesday, February 7.

Whatever you may feel about the perhaps well-intentioned people who are promoting this ordinance, it would be a catastrophe for the cause of freedom.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom in Missouri!

Sincerely yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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SB 706 May Affect Homeschooling Freedom/Autonomy

Tomorrow afternoon, Jane Cunningham’s, SB706, an educational reform bill, will be heard in committee, and there may be something in the content of this 37 page bill that could affect your homeschooling freedoms

The bill is a conglomeration of Race To The Top elements which include the foundation to establish statewide charter schools, longitudinal data systems, and controlled curriculum (common core standards). It takes away local control of schools and promotes control under the federal Department of Education. In short, in an effort to address inadequacies in city schools, the state is establishing a reform that could affect future autonomy of homeschoolers who utilize virtual programs.

What does this mean to homeschoolers? This bill’s foundation promotes the ability for students in unaccredited urban districts to attend schools, in adjoining districts. The state intends to “equalize” financial discrepancy by awarding scholarships, to circumvent the Blaine amendment, which prohibits public money to go to religous schools, or tax credits to the districts that accept the transferring students.

Virtual schools, another component of Race To The Top will affect any homeschool families that enroll in virtual school programs. The present bill states,

A student may enroll in the virtual courses or programs offered by any virtual education provider or school district in Missouri that meets the standards of the department of elementary and secondary education and is accredited. The department may offer its own virtual courses or programs. Any student who enrolls in a virtual course or program under this section shall be considered a public school student and shall take the components of the statewide assessments under section 160.518 that relate to the virtual course or program in which they are enrolled.

So, no longer will homeschool students, who enroll in virtual education under these parameters, maintain autonomy by enrolling in these programs. Additionally, they will be required to submit to testing/assessments which will be aligned with the common core standards that the state has already adopted.

As a public school student, homeschoolers enrolled in virtual programs must comply with the release of information to the director of the department of economic development including, but not limited to your student’s participation as a scholarship recipient and testing results for state wide assessments.

There is no specific evaluation criteria listed in the bill as to how the DED use this information to qualify the use of tax credits issued for educational purposes? Why is this information going to the DED and not the State Board of Education or the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education? Will your children’s assessments and testing be used to track them into specific career tracks? How will it be funneled into national longitudinal data systems?

The funding mechanism of this bill is complex. The fact remains, once you dip your toes into the public pool, and public money, you will be obligated to comply with the mandates that go along with the benefit of accepting the public money.

While Cunningham’s bill addresses urban schools, and districts adjoining them, there are several additional bills in this legislative session that address the operation of charter schools. How long will it be before the effects of SB706 spread across the state?

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Compulsory School Age Mandates On Steroids?

Every year, in Missouri, homeschoolers face legislation that threatens their parental rights and educational freedoms. Each year, lawmakers present bills, in some form, that mandates compulsory school age. The heavy hand of big government attempts to mandate compulsory school attendance because they know the more time they can mandate children spend in government schools, the more influence they can have on your children. Homeschoolers must always be vigilant in monitoring these attempts encroach on compulsory education requirements because these regulations will, without fail, reach over into homeschooling regulations, and parental rights to direct the education of our children will be forever lost.

On Tuesday evening, in his State of the Union Address, the president stated it was his intention to propose that every state mandate a raise in compulsory school age to 18. As homeschoolers, this flies in the face of all parental authority in deciding what is best for our children in the educational realm we choose appropriate.

Michel P. Farris, of Home School Legal Defense, issued a statement yesterday, urging all members of the homeschooling community to make their voices heard regarding the potential intrusion on educational freedom and parental rights proposed by the Obama administration.

Call Now!

Right now, please call the White House and your members of Congress, and give them this message:

“Last night, President Obama called for the government to mandate that all children stay in school until they graduate or turn age 18. This is not the federal government’s responsibility. Leave education decisions to parents, not federal bureaucrats. Tell President Obama to withdraw his compulsory attendance mandate immediately.”

  • The White House: 202-456-1414, or send an online message.
  • Your U.S. representative and two U.S. senators: 202-224-3121 (Capitol Switchboard) or use HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox to find their names and contact info.

There appears to be no limit to this president’s desire for power. Car companies, banks, doctors, and now schools and the family. But this time he’s gone way too far, and homeschoolers and freedom-loving Americans need to make sure that he hears our message.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom.

Sincerely,

Michael P. Farris, JD, LLM
Chairman, HSLDA

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The Best Graduation Speech I Have Ever Heard

Last week, PatriotSoul sent this video as a comment to a previous HU post. What a great job the parents of this young girl did, teaching critical thinking and expressive speech! Enjoy, and comment if you feel the need.

Posted in Educational, parenting | 5 Comments

A Peek Into The Life Of Homeschooling …

Enjoy this video! For all who read Homeschooling United and do not homeschool, perhaps this will answer a few questions about what it is that we actually do all day.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Harvard Study Says “Good Teachers” Shape The Futures Of Children. What About Parents?

The New York Times released a story on a study linking “good teaching” to lasting positive affects on students. The study, conducted by Harvard and Columbia University researchers, tracked 2.5 million students over a 20 year period and concluded:

Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings.

Value-Added-Ratings, a controversial system now being used to measure teacher effectiveness, is likely to be influenced by the results of this new study, says Robert H. Meyer, director of theValue-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study, mostly tracked student success based on test scores and found good teachers had a longer lasting impact on students than bad teachers, as summed up by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The difference between excellent teachers, average teachers and poor teachers had a substantial impact on the income potential of students.

  • All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income.
  • Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000 for each year of teaching.
  • A low value-added teacher in a school for 10 years will result in about $2.5 million in lost income for his/her students, when compared with an average teacher.

While previous studies suggested that the impact of good/bad teachers does not last beyond a three-or four-year period, this study argues that the impacts have significant longevity, manifesting themselves in areas beyond academics and earnings.

  • Students with superior teachers have lower rates of teenage pregnancy.
  • Students are more likely to enroll in college if they received superior teachers in their younger years of education.

Perhaps the study neglected to include some important information in its research. In 2009, Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, released a study on homeschooling student achievement and found that homeschoolers, regardless of family income, educational status of parents, or financial outlay for educational material scored 34–39 percentile points higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests, than their publicly schooled counterparts.

So with the great educational reform debate raging in the United States, perhaps some pertinent questions need to be addressed.

Does teacher certification/qualification really have anything to do with student academic achievement? Does teacher influence trump parental influence in the life of students and the decisions they make about higher education and abstinence? Are test scores really the only thing we hang our hats on, in determining longterm personal success of high academic achieving students, or does a solid family influence, such as is found in most homeschooling families, come into play? Bottom line, what studies/research is there to show “good teachers” are more effective at influencing the lives of children than “good” parents?

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Missouri Legislators Are Baaaaack! Do They Want Your Educational Freedom?

They’re baaaaack in session and education is a top priority for the Missouri legislature this year. They brought with them, to the capitol, the philosophy that government needs to be in control of your money and your children’s education, too, as is demonstrated by a growing list of educational bills.

As the session begins, it’s time once again to scan the ever growing list of legislation and flag items of interest. So far, there are only a few pieces that homeschoolers, in Missouri, need to keep an eye on.

It is certain that education will be an important subject in this legislative session. Last year, over 135 bills related to educational issues, out of over 2000 were filed. None of them passed, and none advanced local control of schools or autonomy for parents to direct the education of their own children. In fact, most of the legislation filed, in Missouri, was tooled to advance the federal government’s version of educational reform, otherwise known as Race To The Top. 

I’ll post more later on the vast Race To The Top/Educated Citizenry 2020/Educational Reform snow job that is about to be done on Missouri taxpayers, but first let’s look at just a few homeschooling sensitive bills.

TAX CREDITS for education: HB1133 introduced by Representative Jay Barnes, who, by the way, has declined to endorse Homeschooling United’s Educational Freedom Pledge, will provide any taxpayer, beginning in 2013, deductions for educational expenses. Some expenses include:

  • Educational software that assists a dependent in improving knowledge in core curriculum areas of the school attended;
  • Fees for after-school enrichment programs;
  • School fees and tuition;
  • School supplies required for use during the regular school day;
  • Tutoring;

As long as we maintain our current tax structure, this would be a great thing for homeschool families. Many of us would love to have the tax break on educational expenses. And credits are different from vouchers in that they are not regulated with governmental strings attached. They merely require you meet the proof of educational expenditure. HSLDA is a supporter of tax credits under certain circumstances.

One thing to keep in mind, since Representative Barnes declined to support educational freedom, as outlined in our pledge, registration by homeschooling families may or may not be an issue if you receive these credits. Perhaps it would be a good idea if Mr. Barnes added specific language to his bill to protect families and prohibit registration with the state by anyone benefitting from his proposed tax credit plan. Give him a call or drop him a line and let him know you expect any legislation coming out of Jefferson City to maintain your parental rights and educational sovereignty. 

COMPULSORY SCHOOL AGE just keeps rearing its ugly head, session after session. Why? Because they know repeated attempts to pass legislation usually are successful. A couple of years ago, homeschoolers lost a great deal of autonomy when similar legislation was “slipped through” during the last minutes of the legislative session. Law makers in Jefferson City know all the tricks and eventually get what they want. They are vigilant.

SB460 is a version of last year’s bill that requires any child who turns five at any time in the calendar year will be enrolled in kindergarten. As it stands now, kindergarten is not mandatory, but if Senator Robin Wright-Jones has her way, it will be.

In addition to lowering the compulsory school age to 5, her bill also offers the opportunity for you to have your child screened by the school district, at an earlier age, (because 5 years old just isn’t early enough) to determine if your child can, or should, start school at 4 years of age or earlier. Now, let’s think about that. How many of you think a school district, that receives funds from the state for average daily attendance, (having warm bodies in seats in classrooms) isn’t going to conclude that your little geniuses are ready for school? Just sayin’.

This bill died last session, but since it has resurfaced in its original form from last year, I’m guessing the ultimate goal is to get your kids from cradle to grave and this is a step in the right direction. Call or write Senator Wright-Jones and tell her it’s a no-go on this bill. Might want to call  your own reps and senators, as well, and tell them you don’t appreciate taxpayer’s time and money being spent on writing and promoting this kind of legislation that further chokes educational freedom and parental rights to make educational choices for our children.

SCHOLARSHIPS  Ok, this one burns my britches for  a couple of reasons. The state of Missouri is now going to offer college scholarships to students who graduate, early, from high school. Don’t get excited. You are a homeschooler and do not qualify for this opportunity. Only public high school students may apply. Really?

Senator Scott Rupp introduced SB483 to give public high school students, who are academically advanced, an edge in college application. Fine. But what about homeschoolers? Many homeschoolers, who have proven to exceed their public school counterparts in academic achievement could really use a break. Especially since we are not only paying taxes to schools we don’t use, but also funding our own educations. The oversight is insulting.

Additionally, the state is broke. Yes, that’s right. Incase you haven’t heard, the budget is an estimated 700-900 million dollars short this year because the legislature has been balancing state accounts with stimulus money for the last few years. 700-900 million are the figures the lawmakers are floating to the public, but there is speculation the deficit will be closer to two billion because the state funds teachers pensions and the piper has come to be paid. And so, someone feels there is need to fund student scholarships, with state money, when balancing the budget is going to be such a struggle, this year.

If you have never before considered, seriously, requiring government to get out of the education business, entirely, perhaps it’s time to entertain the idea.

FINANCIAL AID FOR HOMESCHOOLERS? Really. This bill gets the “Throw Me A Bone of the Year Award.”  But perhaps I speak to quickly, because the session has just started, and there will certainly be many more bills filed which could qualify, however, if we are giving money to public school graduates for scholarships, why do we need to reiterate that homeschooled students should be “considered” equally for financial aid, unless Senator Schaaf is countering with SB527, Senator Rupp’s SB438 public school scholarship program, to enable homeschooled students to qualify?

SPORTS PARTICIPATION BY HOMESCHOOLERS Representative Barnes takes a stab at smoothing out the homeschool student’s ability to participate in organized sports with HB 1206. Pretty bold language in the bill. One to watch as the courts may see an onslaught of families filing restraining orders to prohibit their exclusion from public school sports teams. Popping popcorn in anticipation of the festivities.

As bills get added to the long list of legislation, Homeschooling United will keep you updated as to their progress. I will also update our lists of Educational Freedom Pledge friendly and unfriendly representatives and candidates with in the next couple of weeks. Good information to have as elections approach.

Here’s a link to the Senate Education Committee members, and this will link you to the House Education Committee members.

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Oppressive Reporting Legislation S1877 Stalled

Homeschool Legal Defense issued a statement, late today, in which they reported that S1877 was stalled during the hearing process. In the alert sent on Monday, the HSLDA described the consequences of such a bill as promoting a police state which could potentially create situations making it more difficult to address the needs and identify true abuse.

A link is provided here for you to watch the hearings and see for yourself the arguments made for and against the legislation.

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