New Hampshire Considers Reinstating Restrictions on Homeschoolers

Published January 16, 2018

Four state representatives pre-filed House Bill 1263 in November 2017 for the 2018 legislative session. HB 1263, the bill states, “amends the educational evaluation procedures for home educated children and adds notice, hearing, and appeals procedures relative to the termination of a home education program. The bill also clarifies the school district’s limited liability for home educated children.”

The bill would reinstate rules rescinded in 2012, which required homeschooling families to submit their children’s yearly testing evaluations to their local government school district superintendent for evaluation.

‘Unnecessary and Burdensome’

Mike Donnelly, a staff attorney and director of global outreach at the Home School Legal Defense Association, says HB 1263 would seriously reduce education freedom in the state.

“Twelve-sixty-three would be a pretty significant step backward for homeschooling freedom in New Hampshire,” Donnelly said. “It would impose some pretty unnecessary and burdensome requirements on New Hampshire homeschoolers that were removed by overwhelming majorities in the legislature back in 2012.”

Undermining Parental Control

Donnelly says the bill perverts the role of government and overrides parents’ rights.

“It puts into the hands of government officials or other people the authority to determine whether a child can continue to be homeschooled,” Donnelly said. “That is, fundamentally, the wrong way of looking at education. The presumption is and should be parents are the ones who decide how their children are educated.”

Donnelly says there’s no evidence backing HB 1263’s professed concerns for homeschooling children.

“This bill came from a superintendent in the north of New Hampshire [Corinne Cascadden] who says she’s concerned that half of the homeschool population in New Hampshire is not getting what she calls ‘an adequate education,'” Donnelly said. “She doesn’t cite any data; she doesn’t provide any real reason for believing that. We know that’s simply not the case.”

Inhibiting Alternatives

Ann Marie Banfield, an education liaison at New Hampshire-based Cornerstone Policy Research, says the bill would inhibit families who are frustrated with failing government schools.

“What [lawmakers] are providing right now is an avenue for parents who are frustrated and bothered by what they see is going on in the public schools,” Banfield said. “Common Core is one of the drivers for school choice and homeschooling in New Hampshire. We’ve seen it over and over again. We’ve seen parents come in to testify at hearings that they don’t like the direction the public schools are going.”

‘It’s Just Not Necessary’

Banfield says no one will benefit from these regulations if the bill is signed into law.

“I can’t think of anyone who benefits from regulating the homeschoolers,” Banfield said. “It’s just not necessary. It’s not a big problem in the state, and there is an avenue if there is a problem with a homeschool family. You report it to the state, and the state can investigate. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.”

Savannah Edgens ([email protected]) writes from Gainesville, Florida.