Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc.

Legislative Update - October 2019

Our Massachusetts Legislature began its 191^st session on January 2, 2019. Below is a summary of bills filed this session that AHEM is following. At this time no action needs to be taken on any of these bills.

Bills concerning MCAS

H.504 AN ACT RELATIVE TO NON-PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT ACCESS TO THE MCAS EXAM Bradley H. Jones, Jr.

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of elementary and secondary education shall issue a report on the feasibility and costs associated with non-public school students and home schooled students in grade 10 voluntarily taking the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam; provided that said report shall be provided to the secretary of administration and finance, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, and the clerks of the senate and house of representatives who shall forward the same to the chair of the senate ways and means committee, the chair of the house ways and means committee, and the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on education within 6 months of the effective date of this act.

Summary: Would issue a report on allowing private and homeschooled students to take the MCAS. AHEM contacted Rep. Jones and asked that “and home schooled students” be removed from the language of the bill, as homeschoolers are included in the category “non-public school students.”

AHEM’s position: If language is amended, neutral.

H.570 AN ACT RELATIVE TO NON-PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT ACCESS TO THE MCAS EXAM Alan Silvia

SECTION 1. The department of elementary and secondary education shall issue a report on the feasibility and costs associated with non-public school students and home schooled students in grade 10 voluntarily taking the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam; provided that said report shall be provided to the secretary of administration and finance, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, and the clerks of the senate and house of representatives who shall forward the same to the chair of the senate ways and means committee, the chair of the house ways and means committee, and the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on education within 6 months of the effective date of this act.

Summary: Would issue a report on allowing private and homeschooled students to take the MCAS.

AHEM’s position: If language is amended, neutral.

Bills raising the mandatory attendance age

S.241 AN ACT RELATIVE TO DROPOUT PREVENTION AND RE-ENGAGEMENT Sonia Chang-Diaz

SECTION 2. Section 1B of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word attendance, in line 120, the following words:- ; provided, however, that all children under the age of 18 shall be required to attend school if they have not graduated from high school.

Summary: Raises the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18.

AHEM position: Opposed.

H.416 AN ACT TO REQUIRE SCHOOL ATTENDANCE UP TO AGE EIGHTEEN OR UNTIL GRADUATION Antonio F. D. Cabral

SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 76 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by—

(a) striking out, in lines 1 to 2, the words “between the minimum and maximum ages established for school attendance by the board of education” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- “ages of 6 and 18, having completed at least the twelfth grade or whichever comes first”.; and

(b) inserting after the word “herewith”, in line 58, the following words:- “, provided that no student over the age of 16 shall face criminal penalties for failure to attend school through the mandatory age for school attendance”.

SECTION 2. Section 1B of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition is hereby amended by inserting before the period, in line 120, the following words:- “, provided, however, that all children under the age of 18 shall be required to attend school if they have not graduated from high school”.

Summary: Raises the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18.

AHEM position: Opposed.

Bill regarding community college tuition

S.1089 AN ACT RELATIVE TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITION Eric P. Lesser

(1) To be eligible for the scholarship a student shall be admitted to, and enrolled full-time in, an eligible postsecondary program within five years following graduation, not including time spent in the United States Armed Forces, from an eligible high school in Massachusetts, or completion of high school as a Massachusetts home school student, or obtaining a GED® or HiSET® diploma.

Summary: This bill would create the Massachusetts Workforce Opportunity Scholarship. The problem with it is that it introduces the term “home school” into law, and would require defining what qualifies as completion of high school. AHEM’s thought is that it would be less confusing to simply allow students to be eligible until a certain age, say 23, not including time spent in the armed forces. AHEM has contacted Sen. Lesser’s office with this suggestion, but is not confident they understand our concern.

AHEM position: Neutral, if language is changed.

Bills regarding vaccination

S.2359 AN ACT PROMOTING COMMUNITY IMMUNITY Rebecca L. Rausch

H.4096 AN ACT PROMOTING COMMUNITY IMMUNITY Paul J. Donato, Rebecca L. Rausch

(b) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:- “Covered program”, (i) a child care center, as defined in section 1A of chapter 15D; (ii) a school, whether public, private or charter, that provides education to students in any combination of grade levels from kindergarten to grade 12, inclusive, and including, but not limited to, any school activity open to children who are home schooled; (iii) a recreational camp; or (iv) an institution of higher education, whether public or private.

Summary: Repeals Section 15 of Chapter 76 and replaces it with the Community Immunity Act. AHEM takes no position on vaccination. AHEM contacted Rep. Donato’s and Sen. Rausch’s offices and asked that “home schooled” be changed to “otherwise instructed” to match statutory language in Chapter 76 Section 1, because we object to introducing the term “home schooled” into statutory language, as doing so begs its definition. The suggestion was appreciated by both representatives and will be  forwarded to legal counsel.

AHEM position: If language is amended, neutral.