Update 2: Legislative Bill 1141 has been given its first hearing date: Tuesday, February 26, 2008.
Update: LB 1141 has been referred to the education committee.
I will post more tonight, including more contact information, and a little about the senators who will be looking at this bill. Posted! Senator Erdman’s motion to kill the bill is listed as “pending.” Please note that this committee meets Mondays and Tuesdays, but this bill is not yet on the calendar.
January 23, 2008, Senator Schimek of Lincoln, NE introduced Legislative Bill 1141, which would dramatically interfere with the independence of homeschools. Under current law, Nebraskan homeschools (referred to as unaccredited private schools) are “acknowledged” by the Commissioner of Education when the annual paperwork is received. This paperwork consists of an intent form, a calendar documenting at least 1,032 hours of instruction and a scope and sequence for each of several subject areas. Testing and record keeping are not required.
Under Senator Schimek’s bill, however, we will lose this independence. No longer will homeschools be “acknowledged,” we will be “approved” by the state. An option for visitations and testing has existed within our law for some time, however the state has never opted to enforce it. As a legal assistant at HSLDA informed me last year when I inquired about another law,
The Attorney General has ruled that any testing and/or visitation required must be uniform for all private (and home) schools and that it cannot be arranged without parental consent. Consequently, the State Board of Education has chosen not to require testing or visitation. (via email)
Such uniform testing, however, shall be required under this law. And the clause “…but shall not be used to measure, compare, or evaluate the competency of students at such schools,” has been stricken. Testing will not be used to determine whether schools are offering instruction in the basic skills as was originally conceived in the legislation (before the Attorney General ruled such testing could not occur without parental consent.) Instead, it will be used to ensure that the “intended” instruction is being offered, with the express purpose of measuring, comparing and evaluating the competency of students. Some other key points:
- 1. Every child will be evaluated annually.
- 2. An assessment may be chosen from an approved list of standardized tests or a portfolio assessment.
- 3. The assessment will be conducted by a certified educator.
- 4. The Commissioner of Education or a designee will determine the time and place of the evaluation and “shall make every reasonable effort to conduct them at times and places which are convenient for the parents or guardians and the children being evaluated.
- 5. Children must a) achieve at least six months of academic progress and b) be on grade level. If not, the child will be forced to attend an accredited school (public or private).
Senator Erdman, who is my new favorite Nebraska Senator, immediately filed a motion to postpone the bill indefinitely. Of course, I think I liked him anyway. His lovely wife Cortney covered for me while I was on maternity leave with my son. Congratulations on the “baby!” (I suppose it is possible I have him confused with another youngest Senator to serve in Nebraska from that area with a wife named Cortney, but somehow I don’t think that too likely.)
I will be watching this legislation closely and will provide updates as needed. For the moment, I have a few letters to write.
Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.
Senator Schimek’s information is here, for all who would like to send her a polite note requesting her to reconsider the relationship between the state and the family.
Section 79-1601, as it currently reads
LB 1141 (enter LB 1141 in the blanks and press go. You will get a page with the history of the bill and a link to the bill).
For more information on LB 1141, you can click on the category LB 1141 and find everything I have written so far.
[tags]homeschooling, homeschool, home school, LB1141, LB 1141[/tags]