Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc.

Legislative Update - June 2021

Our Massachusetts Legislature began its 192nd session on January 6, 2021. 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.

There is a virtual Education committee hearing featuring S.289 and H.554 this Friday. If you are able to attend, let us know what happens!

Bills raising the mandatory attendance age

S.289

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 2018 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.554

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 2018 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 2018 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: Requires all children to attend school until age 18 or graduation from high school.

AHEM position: Opposed.

BillS regarding community college tuition

S.1220

AN ACT RELATIVE TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITION by Eric P. Lesser

(1) To be eligible for the scholarship a student shall be admitted to, and enrolled fulltime 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 position: Neutral, if language is changed.

H.1968

AN ACT RELATIVE TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITION by Patricia A. Duffy

(1) To be eligible for the scholarship a student shall be admitted to, and enrolled fulltime 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 position: Neutral, if language is changed.

Bill regarding changing the age for kindergarten

H.539

AN ACT RELATIVE TO CHANGING THE MINIMUM AGE REQUIREMENT FOR KINDERGARTEN by Brian M. Ashe

The twenty-first paragraph of section 1B of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, [currently: The board shall establish the permissible and mandatory ages for school attendance and shall consider the advisability of raising the minimum age for attendance in the first grade to the national average age for such attendance.] is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:-The mandatory minimum age for attendance of kindergarten shall be for a child 5 years of age for attendance in the school year beginning in September of the calendar year in which he or she attains the age of 5.

Summary: This bill would lower the compulsory attendance age to five and make kindergarten mandatory.

AHEM position: Opposed.

Bills regarding full-day kindergarten

H.569

AN ACT RELATIVE TO UNIVERSAL FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN by Marjorie C. Decker

SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 4A the following section:-

Section 4B. All school districts shall offer a full-time kindergarten program that is subject to the same minimum requirements that the board establishes for length of a school day and number of days in a school year for elementary schools pursuant to section 1G of chapter 69. For purposes of this section, “elementary school” shall mean a school providing instruction to grades 1 through 5, 6, 7, or 8, and, where so designated by a school committee prior to the commencement of a school year, may also include a middle school or other intermediate level school providing instruction to grades 5 through 6 or any combination thereof.

SECTION 2. Section 1 of chapter 76 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word education, in line 2, the following words:-and any child enrolled in full-day kindergarten.

Summary: This bill would create full day kindergarten.

AHEM position: Opposed.

H.549

AN ACT RELATIVE TO COMPULSORY FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN by Antonio F. D. Cabral

SECTION 1. Section 1B of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 117-120 inclusive, the twenty-first paragraph [currently: The board shall establish the permissible and mandatory ages for school attendance and shall consider the advisability of raising the minimum age for attendance in the first grade to the national average age for such attendance.] and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:- The board shall establish the permissible and mandatory ages for school attendance provided that each child be required to attend a full-day educational program at kindergarten age..

SECTION 2. Section 1 of chapter 76 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word education, in line 2, the following words:-and any child enrolled in full-day kindergarten.

Summary: This bill would create compulsory full day kindergarten.

AHEM position: Opposed.

Bill concerning access to the MCAS exam

H.629

AN ACT RELATIVE TO NON-PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT ACCESS TO THE MCAS EXAM by 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 and introducing the term home schooled into statutory language begs for it to be defined.

AHEM’s position: Neutral, if "and home schooled students" is removed from the language of the bill.