Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bill Will Take Away Resources Where Most Needed

The following LTE by a homeschooling Mom appears in the Foster's Daily Democrat. Many schools are failing to educate the children they have, resources and finances of these failing schools should not be allocated to a problem that does not exist.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Seacoast lawmaker unfair to constituents

To the editor: In the recent article, 'Dover School officials cool to user fees,' published on February 3rd, the School Board was left struggling to cut more than $666,000 from their budget to be able to meet the request of the City Council to not increase the budget by more than 2 percent.

In a time of great economic uncertainty, I would ask that the Dover school officials and the citizens of Dover take a very careful look at House Bill 367. Rep. Judith Day, D-North Hampton, attempting to burden tax payers of all school districts with a bill that would create redundant annual educational evaluations of the state's home schooling population.

There are around 5,000 home schooling children in this state, and each one of them all ready submits to a form of evaluation yearly, either a portfolio evaluation or a standardized test. This creates a wealth of information for the State of New Hampshire, ensuring that no home-schooled child 'falls through the cracks.'

Rep. Day wants there to be not one, but two forms of evaluation for each child, each and every year - both a portfolio of the child's work, and a standardized test. She proposes that the standardized test be administered by a credentialed educator.

Current law provides that a home-schooled child be allowed to have a standardized test be administered by their parent, who provides that service for free. Rep. Day wishes to take that option away from the parent, and force the school district to pay a teacher to administer a test. Rep. Day also wants a portfolio of the child's work to be evaluated by the district superintendent, with the superintendent having ultimate veto power on whether or not that child has made 'adequate progress.'

The child is only given one year to improve their progress, under threat to the parent that the child will be returned to public school. Public schools that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) are given seven years to improve their scores. That strikes me as an unfair double standard for home-schoolers. It is burdensome to all the superintendents of the state to be asked to take the time to evaluate a homeschooler's portfolio, when the current law already provides for that. Normally, a home schooling parent pays — out of their own pocket — to have a certified teacher evaluate their child's portfolio in lieu of a standardized test.

HB 367 seems, at first glance, to only adversely impact the home schooling community. A closer look reveals that this is an attempt to burden all New Hampshire taxpayers, home school and public school alike. Home schooling parents already provide test scores or portfolio evaluations each year to the state of New Hampshire.

If Rep. Day cannot make good use of the data al ready at her disposal, why should we as taxpayers allow her to pass legislation that is to the detriment of our already strained school budget?

I urge all New Hampshire citizens, especially those with a vested interest in education, to contact Rep. Day and ask her to vote inexpedient to legislate on H.B. 367. I also urge all taxpayers to contact their local representatives and ask them to read the bill carefully and also vote inexpedient to legislate.

Sadly, Rep. Day consulted with no one before putting forth HB 367. Let us send her a clear message that she should have taken the time to listen to her constituent's wishes before rushing ahead with costly legislation.

Ellen Rogers


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