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 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.

 

2015 Legislation to Watch

 

OPPOSE:

 

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

 

This bill gives school boards the option of reducing the minimum age required for  school attendance from 7 years of age to 5 years of age. The bill also 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 7 years of age or older and  who are required to attend a public day school.

 

YOUR ACTION NEEDED:

 

1. Please contact members of the Education Committee to ask them to vote NO on LD 311.

 

2. Please attend the public hearing on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 1:00 PM, Cross Building (behind the State House), Room 202! Your presence will make a difference in the outcome of this bill! Keep in mind that other bills may also be scheduled to be heard during this time, as well. Be prepared to spend the afternoon!

 

What to expect at a public hearing

 

Parking and Directions to the State House

 

Questions? Contact HOME!


Background


  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 would subject Maine homeschoolers to the requirements of the homeschool statute two years earlier than now required. (You do not need to share this with your legislators.)


  • If Maine were to lower the compulsory school attendance age, it would join only eight other states that have their compulsory attendance age that low. 


  • According to the 2005 NAEP test scores from states that have low compulsory attendance ages, children ages 5-6 did not score any higher than children from the other states, and in some subjects their average was actually lower.


  • Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child's formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later.


  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age erodes the authority of parents who are in the best position to determine when their child's formal education should begin.


  • A report published February 6, 2007 by the Goldwater Institute examines Stanford 9 test scores and finds Arizona kindergarten programs initially improve learning but have no measurable impact on reading, math, or language arts test scores by fifth grade.


  • The data show that students in schools with all-day kindergarten programs have statistically significant higher 3rd-grade test scores, but there is no impact on 5th-grade scores. This finding is consistent with previous research. Forcing children into school early delivers short-term benefits at best.


  • Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age would be an inevitable tax increase to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools.



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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