North Dakota--Calls Needed to Oppose Compulsory Attendance Bill!
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
There is a terrible bill moving through the North Dakota Legislative Assembly that would significantly expand state control over education. Current law requires school attendance between the ages of 7 and 16. Senate Bill 2150 would change the lower age from 7 to 6 beginning next school year. Additionally, this bill would raise the upper age from 16 to 17 beginning July 1, 2015. Unless a child completed high school before age 17, the bill would potentially add another two years of homeschooling for every child, regardless of the child's level of maturity or readiness to begin formal instruction at age 6 and regardless of the child's aptitude or interests at age 16.
Unfortunately, HSLDA did not become aware of this bill until late last week. It passed the Senate by a vote of 46-0 on February 18. It will be heard by the House Education Committee tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 9:00 a.m. This bill has a great deal of momentum at this point and will be difficult to stop. But hundreds of telephone calls and emails can turn this bill around. The committee members need to know that North Dakota families do not want the state to exercise more control over their children's education. Parents, not school officials, are in the best position to determine when a child is ready to attend school. And a child who is 16 may wish to pursue other educational options or begin a vocation.
1. Please call and/or e-mail each member of the House Education Committee with this message or something similar in your own words:
"Please vote against Senate Bill 2150 which would expand North Dakota's compulsory school attendance age. Parents, not state officials, are best able to determine when their child is ready for formal education. This bill also restricts the right of parents to choose when a child may pursue other educational or work options. Requiring the attendance of students who are unwilling to remain in school beyond age 16 will have a disruptive effect on other students' learning."
When contacting the committee members, do not identify yourself as a homeschooler. This issue is broader than just homeschooling. This is a parental rights issue that affects all North Dakota families.
2. Please forward this email to every family you know who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact members of the committee with this same message.
The members of the House Education Committee are as follows:
RaeAnn Kelsch, Chairman (R-34) firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Meier, Vice Chairman (R-32) email@example.com
Lyle Hanson (D-12) firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Heilman (R-45) email@example.com
Brenda Heller (R-33) firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Hunskor (D-6) email@example.com
Dennis Johnson (R-15) firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Karls (R-35) email@example.com
Corey Mock (D-42) firstname.lastname@example.org
Phillip Mueller (D-24) email@example.com
Karen Rohr (R-31) firstname.lastname@example.org
David Rust (R-2) email@example.com
Mark Sanford (R-17) firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Schatz (R-36) email@example.com
John D. Wall (R-25) firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the text of Senate Bill 2150, please visit
Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child's formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later.
Lowering the compulsory attendance age erodes the authority of parents who are in the best position to determine when their child's formal education should begin. This bill would restrict parents' freedom to decide if their children are ready for school.
Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age would be an inevitable tax increase to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public school.
Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion rates, Maryland at 94.5% and North Dakota at 94.7%, compel attendance only to age 16. The state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon: 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three-year averages, 1996 through 1998.)
Twenty-nine states only require attendance to age 16. Older children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.
It would restrict parents' freedom to decide if their 16-year-old is ready for college or the work force. Some 16-year-olds who are not academically inclined will benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.
For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our memorandum at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10590 Please call or email today!
Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel