ON THE RECORD yesterday Feb. 9th (podcast available at http://www.chenh.org/PodCasts/)....
After pointing out that he down loaded ten pages of Supreme Court decisions which support the constitutional language found in HB 1580, Rep. Harvey pointed out one of the problems with adding this constitutional language into statute is the direct contradiction between this constitutional language in HB 1580 and RSA 193-A: 6 dealing with Home Education Records and Evaluation. He confirmed that the current home education law contradicts the constitution! That's a pretty good start: the Home Education law, RSA 193-A, is unconstitutional and has been for 20 years. Rep. Harvey concludes that the committee can't introduce this constitutional language until they have time to review the entire chapter of law. He voted to ITL the bill.
Rep. Casey stated that she does not disagree with the ideology in HB 1580, which is summarized by the constitutional language: "It is the natural, fundamental right of parents to determine and direct the education of their children." How could she disagree? She made this comment right after scolding Rep. Hutchinson for trying to "skip and hold hands" with homeschoolers under a more liberty-minded cooperative law and right before jumping onto Rep. Harvey's bandwagon about the inappropriate language in HB 1580 that might inadvertently advocate prostitution as an "lawful and honest field of employment." Rep. Casey voted to ITL the bill due to inappropriate language.
Please write, call, or visit members of the House Education Committee. They need to understand the following points before the committee vote next Tuesday, February 16th at 10:00 am:
Misunderstandings of House Education Sub-Committee:
---There's a substantial difference between the 1990 "purpose statement" of RSA 193-A and the "natural, fundamental rights" statement proposed in HB 1580. HB 1580 is not redundant. Redundancy must not be used as an excuse to ITL this bill!
1.) The "purpose statement" was enacted into chapter law in 1990 along with NH Home Education statute, RSA 193-A. It reads as follows:
279:2 Statement of Purpose. The general court recognizes, in the enactment of RSA 193-A as inserted by section 3 of this act, that it is the primary right and obligation of a parent to choose the appropriate educational alternative for a child under his care and supervision, as provided by law. One such alternative allows a parent to elect to educate a child at home as an alternative to attendance at a public or private school, in accordance with RSA 193-A. The general court further recognizes that home education is more individualized than instruction normally provided in the classroom setting.
2.) From House Bill 1580:
I. It is the natural, fundamental right of parents to determine and direct the education of their children.
The first statement allows parents a very narrow and limited choice of educational alternatives -- specifically, only those defined in statute. The second statement is much broader; it recognizes that it is a parent's right to instruct his child without any restriction. These statements are not the same.
---House Attorney "takes no position" but advises against adding constitutional language to statute as it will "create" problems. Adding constitutional language to statute does not create problems. If contradictions exist between constitutional language and statutes, these problems need immediate correction. This is exactly why HB 1580 is necessary.
---Rep. Casey argued that Art. 3 of NH Constitution may limit certain natural rights. Yes, she is correct.
[Art.] 3. [Society, its Organization and Purposes.] When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.
---However, due process is required before any natural rights may be restricted or terminated. Due process protects individuals from arbitrary authority and guarantees fundamental fairness, justice and liberty.
---Parents who abuse or neglect their children are given due process in court before their parental rights are restricted or terminated. Truants are given due process in courts before any corrective action is taken. Yet homeschoolers are presumed guilty if they don't annually prove their innocence with assessments and evaluations. This presumption of guilt is backwards. Responsible parents should not be treated like criminals.
---The enumerated list of subjects in HB 1580 is not arbitrary. It was taken directly from the home education statute, RSA 193-A to indicate to the commitment level required by parents in fulfilling their duty to instruct their children. This compulsory education list does not constrain parents, but clarifies their duty. It is not inconsistent with the ideology of this bill. Also, this list can easily be amended to meet the concerns of the community as Art. 3 of the NH Constitution indicates.
---The "lawful and honest employment" language in HB 1580 comes directly from the Ludlow Code of Laws of 1650 which is basic fundamental law of the New England colonies, specifically Connecticut, representing the concern that all communities share for a well-educated populace.
---The language of HB 1580 is appropriate. Each section is concise with a very specific and very clear purpose. Parents, not the state, have the primary duty to instruct their children. HB 1580 exempts parents from compulsory attendance while restraining them with a compulsory education law.
---The current version of HB 1580 under consideration is the amended version, which eliminates section (9), which was an explicit exemption from the compulsory attendance law. This amended version is shorter and easier to follow, without any loss of functionality. 20 words in a constitutional statement, plus another 50 words, which includes the list of subjects to be instructed.Link to HB 1580 text: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2010/HB1580.html