The Senate Education Committee discussed and voted on HB 1663 relative to requirements for home education on Tuesday, April 26. The discussion is available on YouTube starting at 1:31:50.
The bill received a unanimous vote, 5 to 0, of Ought to Pass and will be on the consent calendar for the next Senate session, likely on May 5, 2022.
Committee members reviewed an amendment brought forward by Rep. Erica Layon that would remove the state Board of Education’s rule-making authority while keeping Ed 315 rules in place until they sunset in 2031. While the senators expressed general support of the concept, they would like to see more work on specific language. It is our intention to continue conversations with families, other homeschool organizations, and legislators to put forward a new bill in 2023 to address this issue.
This bill as amended by the House will move home ed freedom forward in several ways:
- Requires all districts to adopt an Equal Access policy.
- Simplifies termination to mirror the initial notification language.
- Removes language that could imply home-ed programs need approval by Participating Agencies.
- Removes inconsistencies regarding who to notify and when.
- Removes unequitable academic achievement requirements.
- Adds explicit protection for home-educated children with special education differences.
- Explicitly states the portfolio remains the private property of the family.
Unfunded homeschoolers are not asking for funding, services, favors, or special treatment. We simply want parity with other educational pathways, privacy, clarity in applicable law, and protection for our children with learning challenges.
This is the biggest home ed freedom bill in 10 years and will benefit thousands of NH children for years to come.
Next Step: Vote in the Senate
We expect HB 1663 will be scheduled for a vote in an upcoming Senate session, likely Thursday, May 5, when every member of the NH Senate will vote on the bill along with many others. This is the time for the public to contact their own local Senators about HB 1663, urging them to vote for the bill as amended. Brief calls or emails are best and indicate you are a constituent. Clearly indicate your position on the bill and include a brief description of the bill to identify it as regarding home education requirements; legislators must consider dozens of bills so this helps them know which one you’re referencing.
Because the senate will vote on the version of HB 1663 as passed by the House, if it passes, it will next go to the Governor and there are three possible outcomes: sign the bill, allow it to go into law without his signature, or veto.
HB 1663 received a near-unanimous Ought to Pass with Amendment (OTP/A) vote of 18 to 1 out of the House Education Committee to position it favorably for the full House vote that followed.
Read about the House Education Committee public hearing for HB 1663 here. The article includes a link to the video recording and testimony submitted on behalf of GSHE.
GSHE conducted research efforts to support requiring Equal Access policies in all districts and show the need to remove the inequitable academic requirements of home educated students.
Tips and Resources
We created resources to help families effectively prepare communications to their legislators and it is available here.
We encourage GSHE homeschooling members to join our Facebook group, GSHE Action, where we focus exclusively on news, legislation, and issues that impact homeschool freedom.
It is very important that homeschoolers stay informed and make a commitment to be engaged. What does that mean? That means following along in GSHE Action where we will give you all the inside information and tips to support and defend homeschool freedom. It means you will need to send multiple emails to your legislators or perhaps call them.
The key to success is YOU. Don't be passive here, hoping someone else will send a brief email or make that call. This will impact your children for years to come and you need to make it happen. GSHE will help, but we can't do it for you.
We compiled several tips on our How To Be an Effective Advocate page.
Our Make a Difference page includes several ways to easily get involved and not only engage in Concord, but help your neighbors and friends learn more about homeschooling.
We also created a handy reference page with legislators' contact information for the House and Senate education committees. It is easy to reach out to them on matters you care about.
Finally, we created an overview of the legislative process so you can follow along with how Concord works.
GSHE is a registered 501c4, all-volunteer home education support group. This allows us to take a position on legislation that impacts our community and accept donations.
By Michelle Levell