The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on HB 1663 relative to requirements for home education on Tuesday, April 5. Several homeschooling families and supporters filled the committee room and every person who testified was in support of the bill. Speakers were very articulate about the various reasons they support the bill and how the issues impact their families. The hearing is available on the committee’s YouTube channel; the HB 1663 hearing begins around 1:05:20 of the video.
This bill 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.
The testimony I presented on behalf of GSHE to the committee was abbreviated in the interest of time, but is available here in full and was distributed to the committee at the conclusion of my remarks with an electronic version emailed later that day.
Next Step: Executive Session
The next step in the legislative process is an executive session. It may happen anytime the committee meets now that the public hearing concluded. This is when the committee discusses the bill, may introduce amendments, and votes on the bill. The committee’s recommendation is very influential when the bill moves on to the entire Senate for a vote. At the executive session, the public does not speak, but may attend and observe.
The public may continue to contact the committee about HB 1663 up until such time that they hold the executive session. This means that families still have (limited) time to email or call them; their contact information is available here.
Shortly after the committee’s executive session, HB 1663 will be scheduled for a vote in an upcoming Senate session when every member of the NH Senate will vote on the bill along with many others. It is during this interval when the public may contact their own local Senators about HB 1663. 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.
If the Senate passes the version adopted by the House, HB 1663 will move along to the Governor and there are three possible outcomes: sign the bill, allow it to go into law without his signature, or veto. If the Senate adopts a version that is different from the one passed by the House, the original chamber (the House for our bill) has a vote to concur (accept), non-concur (kill the bill), or meet in a committee of conference to reconcile the different versions.
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