The Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) met on Thursday, May 27, 2021. Present were Kitty Michelotti (Chairman, Granite State Home Educators), George D’Orazio (Vice Chairman, Catholics United for Home Education NH), Fred Fraser (Secretary, NH DOE Higher Education), Jennifer Pereira (Catholics United for Home Education NH), Stef Marsh (NH Homeschooling Coalition), Catie McLaughlin (Christian Home Educators of NH and southern MA), Amanda Weeden, (Granite State Home Educators), Representative Glenn Cordelli, Nate Greene (NH DOE), Shireen Meskoob (NH DOE), and Michelle Levell (member of the public). Absent were Michael Koski (NH Association of School Principals) and Senator Ruth Ward.
There was a problem with Zoom; the original meeting link was invalid, making the meeting noncompliant with RSA 91-A. Therefore, it is not an official meeting and no action was taken. HEAC schedule a brief special meeting on Thursday, June 3 at 3:30pm to vote on the annual report. It is accessible by this Zoom link with meeting ID 842 0055 6149 and passcode FHqAz7.
Ed 315 was approved by JLCAR in mid-December and went into effect January 15, 2021. Now the state BOE needs to take a final vote on them to become certified. The revised rules are on the NH DOE website here.
There is a Rochester Show Cause hearing on June 3rd at 10am via Zoom to discuss the Equal Access difficulties. There will be a legal proceeding with Diana Fenton handling it on behalf of the NH DOE. The difficulties with Equal Access were discussed at great length at the March HEAC meeting.
School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce (STRRT) about public school’s reopening for fall 2021 and how to use the federal Covid funding. Their recommendations to the NH DOE are available here.
Kitty shared that one of her students won the FITN essay contest. Winners were recognized at the State House by Governor Sununu, Commissioner Edelblut, and the Executive Council. Next year’s essay contest will be open to all high-schooled students. Congratulations to all winners!
Fred (NH DOE Higher Ed) – He is busy closing out the school year.
Catie (CHENHSME) – There are many graduation parties for homeschool families in her area. UNH gave full-tuition scholarships to homeschoolers she knows.
Stef (NHHC) – They resolved an Equal Access situation in Dover, but there’s another problem in Laconia that they are working through. She reflected on how much things have changed over the years she’s homeschooled. She also remarked how many homeschoolers look to education providers to outsource their children’s learning.
Jen and George (CUHE) – They continued to get more memberships the last few months. They’re hosting a graduation event soon. A mom who is relocating from CT to NH shared that the homeschool environment is becoming less friendly there. George reported they are having the same challenges that other organizations reported.
Amanda (GSHE) – We have been helping people who are in transition, who aren’t sure how to get back into the public schools, continue with homeschooling, and how to handle annual assessments. She personally helps several families each week, doing several 1:1 consultations. She shared her developmental approach to homeschooling based on her in-person workshop. Christian Home Educators has their big sale coming up on June 5th at Emmanuel Church in Rochester from 9am to noon, then a half-price sale from 1pm to3pm.
Shireen and Nate (NH DOE) – They have nothing to report at this time and are getting to know HEAC and homeschooling.
Rep Glenn Cordelli – The House is finishing legislative work and will be in session on June 3rd. The Senate is finishing work on House bills that they have and the budget. The EFA, SB 130, has been added to the House Budget, HB 2 (starting on page 43). The Senate will vote on HB 1 and HB 2 soon. The amendment includes an income threshold for participation at 300% of the federal poverty limit, and the “firewall” amendment that separates homeschooling from the new EFA program. The NH DOE recently rolled out a new program, Recovering Bright Futures, that will work with Prenda to offer two types of pods to families; one through local districts and one through home education. This is part of a federal Covid grant for the next two years. GSHE did an interview with the Commissioner about this new program.
Kitty (GSHE) – She shared two programs that offer community college credits to high-school students, including homeschoolers: NH Charitable Foundation has free community college and Summer Lynx Program available through NHTI. Harvard is hosting an online series of panel discussions, called “The Post-Pandemic Future of Homeschooling.” GSHE has members attending the discussions and sharing their observations to our group.
I shared that GSHE hosted another event with NHHEAF regarding post-secondary options. The discussion was recorded and available here.
Kitty is stepping down from HEAC; GSHE has nominated me, Michelle, to replace her for the balance of her term effective in September. She will manage next week’s meeting and present the annual report to the state BOE.
There will be a special meeting next Thursday, June 3rd at 3:30pm to approve the annual report. It is accessible by this Zoom link with meeting ID 842 0055 6149 and passcode FHqAz7.
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By Michelle Levell