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Legislative Alert LB155

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Posted 3/15/17

Call to Action
Call - Email - Attend - Testify
Education Committee Hearing on LB 155

March 20, 2017 @ 1:30 PM

  Nebraska Homeschool – OPPOSES LB 155

 
The inclusion of exempt schools in LB 155 presents several issues of concern, ones that threaten the very freedom of parents and legal guardians in directing the education of their children; it creates a dangerous precedent for allowing state regulation of exempt schools. 
 

Overview:

LB 155 seeks to implement a new high school graduation requirement for all state approved and accredited schools AND exempt schools.

Requirement: the successful completion of a civics test as a prerequisite for high school graduation, specifically the one hundred questions listed on a test that is identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, as required by 8 U.S.C. 1423, as such section existed on January 1, 2017, and sets forth a performance standard for each student to correctly answer at least 70% of the questions.

 

 

5 Key Issues Related to Including Exempt Schools in LB 155:


Issue 1: It negates the legal election (pursuant to Section 79-1601) of parents or legal guardians to be exempt by creating education requirements for exempt schools.

Current Status 1: Per Section 79-1601 parents and legal guardians may elect exemption for the following reasons,  “(i) the requirements for approval and accreditation required by law and the rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education violate sincerely held religious beliefs of the parents or legal guardians or (ii) the requirements for approval and accreditation required by law and the rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education interfere with the decisions of the parents or legal guardians in directing the student's education.” 

Parents and legal guardians are not “choosing homeschooling” but electing exemption from state requirements and State Board of Education rules and regulations.  Per Section 79-1601 exempt schools are required to offer core subject areas (language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health), meet the same number of instructional hours as approved or accredited state schools, and provide specific documentation as defined in Section 79-1601 and in Title 92, Administrative Code, Chapter 13 (aka Rule 13 or Nebraska’s homeschool rules).  Exempt schools are free to administer all aspects of the exempt school within these parameters of operation as defined in Section 79-1601.
 
Issue 2: It creates state control over the program of instruction by requiring exempt schools to adhere to a graduation requirement before acknowledging exempt school students' completion of the program of instruction offered in the exempt school.

Current Status 2: Exempt school students are not required to meet Nebraska requirements for graduation as they are exempt.  The State of Nebraska does not recognize exempt school students as graduates of a state approved or accredited school, nor does the State of Nebraska issue a Nebraska high school diploma to exempt school students.  Exempt school students must complete a program of instruction as defined by the parents or legal guardians and are issued a “diploma” by the exempt school administrators (parents or legal guardians) upon completion.
 
Issue 3: It creates state control of curriculum source and content used in exempt schools by specifically requiring the Social Studies core content include materials reflecting the content addressed in the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Current Status 3: Exempt schools are free to select a curriculum source of their choice and ensure that it does not violate sincerely held religious beliefs of the parents or legal guardians, or interfere with the decisions of the parents or legal guardians in directing the student's education.  They are free to determine what portions of a particular curriculum will be covered within the exempt school program of instruction.  They are also free to determine the best method, time, and rate for completing such curriculum. 
 
Issue 4: It creates state control of student assessment and evaluation in exempt schools by requiring exempt school student complete the written test using all of the one hundred potential questions listed for the civics portion of the naturalization test by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services as of January 1, 2017.

Current Status 4: Assessment and evaluation of exempt school students is performed in a manner deemed appropriate by the parents or legal guardians (Which may or may not include written assessments.)  Many exempt schools employ a variety of assessment and evaluation methods, and some even include standardized achievement testing.  While Section 79-1601 does allow for state requested achievement testing, it is to be done solely for the purpose of ensuring the exempt school is offering instruction in the basic skills of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health.  The procedure for such a request is outlined in Title 92, Administrative Code, Chapter 13.   The outlined procedure does not single out a particular core subject or a particular content area within a given core subject to be targeted for assessment and evaluation.

Issue 5: It creates state control of student performance and achievement standards in exempt schools by requiring students to correctly answer at least seventy percent (70%) of the questions on the specified civics test.

Current Status 5: Exempt school students are not required to meet state performance or achievement standards by virtue of being exempt.  Additionally, per Section 79-1601, if and when, achievement test results are requested by the state, those results may only be used as evidence that exempt schools are offering instruction in the basic skills for language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health.  Section 79-1601 further clarifies that such test results  “shall not be used to measure, compare, or evaluate the competency of students at such schools.”

In summary, Nebraska Homeschool strongly opposes any legislation that seeks to knowingly, or unknowingly, strip parents and legal guardians of their right which is acknowledged in Section 79-1601, that is the right to direct the education of their children and be exempt from the requirements for approval and accreditation required by law and the rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education


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What Do You Need to Do?

 

All homeschool families are encouraged to voice their opinion on LB 155.   Please remember to be respectful and concise. Ensure the senators know you position and thank them for their service.

Please call and email members of the Education Committee (see below).
 

Attend and testify at the Education Committee Hearing on March 20, 2017 @ 1:30 PM (Room 1525 on the 1st Floor of the Capitol).  Plan to arrive early to find parking (usually in a garage a few blocks away), allow time to walk a couple blocks to the Capitol, and locate the room and seating. [It's a great civics lesson for the children - up close and personal since it touches their lives]

If you are unable to attend you may submit your written testimony prior to the hearing start time.

If the sponsoring senator is your senator, please contact Senator Brasch and let her know your are a constituent and share your concerns with her. 

Senator Lydia Brasch (District 16)    (402) 471-2728    lbrasch@leg.ne.gov


 

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Your Toolkit of Helpful Resources

Tips on Testifying at a Committee Hearing: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/about/testifying.php

Letters or written communications containing support, opposition or neutral testimony also are accepted by committees during a bill's public hearing. Persons wishing to send written information should address their correspondence to the office of the senator who chairs the committee and ensure that the information arrives before the hearing.

Helpful link "For Citizens" page on the Nebraska Legislature website:  http://nebraskalegislature.gov/feature/citizen.php


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Education Committee Contact Information
 

Sen. Mike Groene, Chairperson  (402) 471-2729   mgroene@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Laura Ebke,                         (402) 471-2711   lebke@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Steve Erdman,                     (402) 471-2616  serdman@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Rick Kolowski                       (402) 471-2327  rkolowski@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan                  (402) 471-2885  llinehan@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Adam Morfeld                       (402) 471-2720  amorfeld@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks           (402) 471-2633  ppansingbrooks@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Lynne Walz                           (402) 471-2625  lwalz@leg.ne.gov