Legislation

Current Critical Legislative Issues and Updates

 

Each year, there are a number of legislative issues that require our attention. Always be prepared to take action on an issue of importance to homeschoolers! Read our Legislative Information page to become acquainted with the Maine Legislature and the legislative process in our state.

 

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Be ready to contact current Maine Education and Cultural Affairs Committee Members on Maine legislative issues of importance to homeschoolers. 


Members of the Maine Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and their contact information are listed here.

 

What to expect at a public hearing 

 

Parking and Directions to the State House

 

2015 Legislation to Watch

 

NEITHER FOR NOR AGAINST:

 

LD 311, An Act To Improve Attendance at Public Elementary Schools 

 

This amended bill provides that a person 5 years of age or older who is enrolled in public day school is required to attend during the time it is in regular session. This amendment provides that a person 5 years of age or older and under 7 years of age may withdraw from school at any time within the 45 days after enrollment, and may withdraw from school after 45 days after enrollment after consultation with the school board or its designee. This amendment provides that students who are at least 5 years of age and enrolled in a public day school are subject to the same provisions regarding truancy as students who are at least 7 years of age and have not completed grade 6 who are required to attend a public day school. This amendment clarifies that a person 5 years of age or older and under 7 years of age is not required to meet the alternatives to attendance requirements set forth in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 5001-A, subsection 3.

 

STATUS: GOVERNOR'S VETO SUSTAINED!! (This bill will not become law.) 

 

More on LD 311

 

SUPPORT:

 

LD 579 An Act To Allow Teachers To Teach and Students To Learn by Amending the Laws Governing Education Standards

 

This bill repeals the requirements for a system of proficiency-based education 32 standards scheduled to become effective in 2017.

 

STATUS: DEAD (will have no further action)

 

LD 1153 An Act To Restore Local Control of Education to Towns


This bill repeals the laws governing proficiency-based graduation requirements. It provides that a school administrative unit may elect to opt out of the so-called Common Core State Standards and statewide student assessments. It provides that a school administrative unit may establish a method of transferring funds to a public charter school that is an alternative to the current method. It makes it optional, instead of mandatory, for a school administrative unit to develop and implement a performance evaluation and professional growth system for educators.

 

STATUS: DEAD

 

LD 1251 An Act To Safeguard Students' Personal and Private Information


This bill establishes data privacy practices for the Department of Education and school administrative units. It prohibits the department and school administrative units from disclosing personally identifiable information about students without the written consent of the parents of children under 18 years of age and the written consent of the students themselves when the students are at least 18 years of age. There are specific exceptions to the prohibitions. The bill also prohibits the collection, entry and maintenance of certain information about students and their families. A contractor, consultant or other party that has entered into a contract or other agreement with the department or a school administrative unit who violates the restrictions is subject to a $5,000 civil penalty per violation and disqualification from future access to education records.

 

STATUS: DEAD

 

LD 1076 An Act To Enact the Vaccine Consumer Protection Program

 

This bill establishes the Vaccine Consumer Protection Program within the Department of Health and Human Services and describes the services provided under the program.

 

STATUS: Governor's Veto Overridden 

 

LD 1276 An Act To Improve Educational Assessments of Maine Students


This bill:


1. Directs the Department of Education to terminate the State's membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and adopt a method of education assessment that complies with federal law but does not collect or disseminate personal data and attributes of students, such as attitudes, values, motivations, stereotypes or feelings;


2. Requires that a state assessment of student achievement be developed with direct input from teachers, parents and school boards and specifically address the needs of students and citizens of the State;


3. Requires that personally identifying data of a student derived from a state assessment of student achievement be disseminated only with the express written permission of each of the student's parents or guardians;


4. Requires that the State's participation in or entrance into an agreement with an organization, consortium or association in establishing or implementing standards and a state assessment of student performance be done through major substantive rules; and


5. Prohibits a state assessment of student achievement from being aligned with the so-called common core state standards initiated and adopted by several states.

 

STATUS: Passed ot be Enacted, June 15, 2015

 

LD 1396 An Act Regarding Educational Standards for Maine Students


This bill provides Maine students and teachers with high-quality content standards that have been demonstrated as some of the best state standards in the nation. The bill accomplishes the following with regard to the statewide content standards, statewide assessment programs, the comparison of recent and proposed content standards and statewide assessment programs and the release of personally identifiable data.


With regard to content standards, the bill:


1. Prohibits the Department of Education from adopting and implementing the common core state standards, or any standards developed by any similar initiative process or program, as the State's content standards for English language arts and mathematics and voids any prior actions taken to adopt or implement the common core state standards;


2. Requires the Department of Education, within 90 days after the bill's effective date, to replace the content standards in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies with new standards that are consistent with the standards adopted by Massachusetts prior to that state's adoption of the common core state standards, so that Maine's standards are, as much as possible, identical to those adopted by Massachusetts, except when a Maine context requires otherwise;


3. Specifies that the content standards that are based on the Massachusetts standards are effective for the 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years only;


4. Requires the Department of Education, by June 30, 2017, to adopt new content standards for kindergarten and for each of grades 1 to 12 in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies that are distinct and independent from the standards previously adopted by the Department of Education so that they are in place beginning with the 2019-2020 school year;


5. States that a school administrative unit is not required to use all or any part of the content standards adopted by the Department of Education;


6. Prohibits the Commissioner of Education from adopting any model curricula that are aligned with the content standards; and


7. Prohibits the Department of Education, the State Board of Education and any other state official, board or agency from adopting or revising any content standards in English language arts, mathematics, science or social studies until the new or revised standards are approved in accordance with the bill.


With regard to assessments, the bill:


1. Prohibits the Department of Education from using the assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers during the 2015-2016 school year or any school year thereafter; and also prohibits the department beginning with the 2015-2016 school year from using the assessments related to or based on the common core state standards by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or any other consortium of states working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers;


2. For the 2015-2016 school year, requires the Department of Education to furnish and school administrative units and schools to administer the assessments for elementary and secondary schools that were administered during the 2013-2014 school year, including the New England Common Assessment Program for grades 3 to 8 and the Maine High School Assessment testing program for grade 11 that includes the SATs in reading, mathematics and writing, as well as the Maine High School Assessment science test that was developed in collaboration with Measured Progress;


3. Requires the Department of Education to adopt or develop, not later than 90 days after the effective date of the bill, assessments for elementary and secondary schools in English language arts and mathematics that are aligned with the State's version of Massachusetts content standards for use only during the 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years;


4. Requires the Department of Education to adopt or develop by June 30, 2019 assessments for elementary and secondary schools in English language arts and mathematics that are aligned with the new standards for use during the 2019-2020 school year and each school year thereafter;


5. Specifies that the nationally standardized assessment that is required as part of the statewide educational assessment program must be a nationally recognized, norm-referenced assessment, instead of a nationally standardized assessment as under current law and adds the requirement that it measure college and career readiness; and


6. Requires that a school administrative unit excuse a student from standardized assessments at the written request of the student's parent or guardian and establishes requirements for school administrative units and the Department of Education related to excusing a student.


With regard to the comparison of standards and assessments, the bill:


1. Requires the Department of Education to compare and publish on its website a comparison of the new content standards in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies that will be effective in the 2019-2020 school year with Maine's state standards and the parameters for essential instruction and graduation requirements and to submit a report to the Legislature and Governor outlining the results of the comparison of the standards; and


2. Requires the subcommittees in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies to compare the content standards in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies with the content standards that were previously adopted by the Department of Education pursuant to Public Law 2009, chapter 313, section 19 and Public Law 2009, chapter 647, section 1.


With regard to the release of personally identifiable data, the bill:


1. Specifies that, if the Federal Government requires a grant recipient to provide personally identifiable information of students or teachers as a condition of a federal education grant relating to content standards, only aggregate data may be provided for that purpose; and


2. Prohibits a federal grant recipient from releasing personally identifiable information without informed written consent of the student's parent or guardian for a student's information or of the teacher for a teacher's information.

 

STATUS:  DEAD

 

HP 804 JOINT RESOLUTION MAKING APPLICATION TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES CALLING A CONVENTION OF THE STATES TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION TO IMPOSE FISCAL RESTRAINTS, LIMIT FEDERAL POWER AND IMPOSE TERM LIMITS

 

STATUS: Voted, June 2, 2015, Anticipated Divided Report 


OPPOSE:

 

LD 606 An on Requirements for School Students and Employees of Nursery Schools and Health Care FacilitAct To Remove the Philosophical Exemption from the Immunizatiies

 

Current law allows exemptions because of a person's philosophical beliefs from immunization requirements for students in elementary and secondary schools and postsecondary schools and employees of nursery schools and health care facilities. This bill removes those exemptions. The bill also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to remove any immunization exemptions because of philosophical beliefs from its rules.

 

STATUS: DEAD

 

LD 471 An Act To Improve Childhood Vaccination Rates in Maine 

 

This bill requires a parent or guardian who is seeking a philosophical exemption to routine childhood vaccination when enrolling a child in school or a licensed day care facility to present written documentation signed by a health care practitioner that the health care practitioner has reviewed with the parent information about the risks and benefits of immunization that is consistent with information published by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

STATUS: Passed to be Enacted, June 18, 2015

 

NEITHER FOR NOR AGAINST:

 

LD 1230, An Act To Create a Digital Portal for Education


The amended bill, which would have established a digital portal for education, creates instead a digital content library, which makes digital educational content and learning resources available to all students through a method determined by the Commissioner of Education and based upon the recommendations of a digital content library advisory group..

 

STATUS:  Passed to Be Enacted, June 2, 2015



2013 Legislative Victories

 

LD 61, An Act To Amend Standards for Participation in Certain Public School Services by Students Who Are Homeschooled - New College Class Access Law Takes Effect!

 

With the governor’s signature on LD 61, homeschoolers now have access to free or low-cost college courses. There are only five requirements:

 

1. The student’s educational program must meet Maine’s legal requirements for home instruction.

2. The college must have space in the classroom for the student.

3. The student must have completed all course prerequisites.

4. The student must submit such evidence of academic fitness as the college may request.

5. The student must receive the college’s approval of the student’s academic fitness.

 

The new law took effect in the 2013-2014 school year. Only courses taken within the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System and the Maine Maritime Academy are eligible. The state Department of Education pays 50% of the in-state tuition and the college waives the remainder of the tuition costs. The student may be required to pay other fees and charges.

 

According to Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner’s landmark study, the average homeschool 8th grader scores at about the same level on standardized tests as a 12th grader. So it’s not surprising to see older homeschool students moving strongly into some college-level classes.

 

Our thanks go to Representative Eleanor Espling for sponsoring LD 61, and to Homeschoolers of Maine for working hard to make it become law.

 

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Senior Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association

 

LD 92, Act Relating to Private School Student Participation in Public School Cocurricular, Interscholastic and Extracurricular Activities - Better Access to Public School Activities Passes!

 

Many Maine homeschool families operate within the structure of a small “recognized” private school, that is, a school that follows the Commissioner of Education’s guidelines for being recognized as providing equivalent instruction. (Larger private schools usually seek “approval” rather than “recognition”.)

 

In 2011, the Maine legislature enacted a law giving students in recognized private schools access to public school co-curricular, extracurricular, and interscholastic activities.  But the law gave public school principals the power to reject a student’s access request for virtually any reason. Representative Joyce A. Maker (Calais) wanted to change that.

 

She filed a bill, LD 92, to prevent public school principals from arbitrarily turning down access requests from students enrolled in recognized private schools.  HSLDA and Homeschoolers of Maine worked with Rep. Maker to fine tune the language. 

 

On July 9, 2013, the bill passed both houses of the Maine legislature, and on July 22 the governor signed it. Homeschool students in recognized schools are now entitled to participate in the public school activities listed above.  The new law gives the principal authority to deny access only if the public school does not have the capacity for the student to participate.

 

We appreciate Rep. Maker’s successful work in putting a stop to arbitrary rejection of student requests to participate in public school activities.

 

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Senior Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association

 

For more important information and background on the issues above, please visit HSLDA at http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/2013/02/20130227114033.asp    

 

 

Upcoming Events 2015

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