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 legislative process in our state.

 

To stay informed of any threat to homeschool freedoms, sign up to receive HOME Email Updates!

 

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

 

1. Government Pre-schools, LD 1530

 

LD 1530, An Act To Establish a Process for the Implementation of Universal Voluntary Prekindergarten Education, became public law in April. Thanks to calls from the ranks of homeschoolers, language that would have made school attendance for 5-year olds compulsory was successfully removed from LD 1530 earlier in the legislative session. Therefore, there has been no age change in the compulsory school attendance law (at least for now)!

 

While LD 1530 does not directly impact our homeschool law, it does provide for free (i.e., taxpayer-funded or gambling-funded) institutionalized learning at public schools for 4-year olds. This creates a new cultural expectation. Soon 4-year olds will be expected to begin school at that age, just as 5-year olds are now. Remember that even with this change, letters of intent to homeschool are not required until a child's 7th birthday!  Homeschoolers will need to be alert and ready to educate school officials regarding the age that a notice of intent to homeschool is due. 

 

The research is clear: the best place for little kids is at home with their families. Home is a rich environment where they interact with their environment and loving family members in ways that help them grow socially, emotionally and academically—in ways that can’t be orchestrated or mimicked in impersonal institutional settings. You can help. Read the research, and please share with parents thinking about putting their 4-year-old into school!

 

Our special thanks go to Representatives McClellan who took an important leadership role, stood strong and spoke to the danger! 

 

Background on LD 1530

 

If passed as originally written, LD 1530 would have expanded state control over children and families in Maine. Current law requires school attendance beginning at age 7. LD 1530 would have lowered this to age 5 requiring homeschooling parents to comply with the compulsory school attendance law a full two years earlier than they do now.

 

Also, at a November work session on November 25, invited representatives from a number of national groups and organizations spoke of the need for standardized early education from prenatal to age 5. This bill (if passed) would open the door to that end. 

  

Read more background on the bill here: http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/elertarchive.aspx?6861

 

Members of the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs:

 

Senator Rebecca J. Millett (D-Cumberland), Chair

SenRebecca.Millett@legislature.maine.gov

 

Senator Christopher K. Johnson (D-Lincoln)

SenChris.Johnson@legislature.maine.gov

 

Senator Brian D. Langley (R-Hancock)

SenBrian.Langley@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative W. Bruce MacDonald (D-Boothbay), Chair

RepBruce.MacDonald@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Mary Pennell Nelson (D-Falmouth)

RepMary.Nelson@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Helen Rankin (D-Hiram)

RepHelen.Rankin@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Matthea Elisabeth Larsen Daughtry (D-Brunswick)

RepMattie.Daughtry@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Brian L. Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor)

RepBrian.Hubbell@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Victoria P. Kornfield (D-Bangor)

RepTori.Kornfield@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Peter B. Johnson (R-Greenville)

RepPete.Johnson@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Joyce A. Maker (R-Calais)

RepJoyce.Maker@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Michael D. McClellan (R-Raymond)

RepMichael.McClellan@legislature.maine.gov

 

Representative Matthew G. Pouliot (R-Augusta)

mpouliot57@gmail.com

 

Representative Madonna M. Soctomah (Passamaquoddy Tribe)

RepMadonna.Soctomah@legislature.maine.gov

 

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    

 

 

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