Louisiana Home-School Curricula State Approval at Risk

State Representative Beryl Amedée proudly confesses she educated her three sons at home, serving as their teacher for a total of 21 years before advocating for other parents who prefer non-traditional educational methods.

The GOP member from Terrebonne Parish aims to simplify access to home schooling for other families. However, some legislators are concerned that her approach could eliminate all accountability for parents who choose to homeschool.

Currently, parents must notify BESE when enrolling their child in a home study program. They have the option of using an approved program by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education or selecting their own curriculum. Home-school graduates receive a diploma equivalent to that of private schools, not the state-recognized diploma granted by public high schools.

Amedée’s House Bill 650 seeks to eliminate BESE’s approval of home-school curricula, allowing only “nonapproved, nonpublic” programs.

When parents inquire about home schooling, Amedée dedicates 45 minutes explaining the options and provides an eight-page detailed document. She believes her bill will streamline the process.

Jessie Leger, legislative affairs director for Homeschool Louisiana, expressed support for Amedée’s bill before the House Committee on Education. The organization, based on Christian principles, offers assistance and encouragement to families engaged in home schooling.

According to Leger, ten states have adopted the one-time notification process proposed in Amedée’s bill, while only 11 states require approval of home-school curricula.

Representative Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, raised concerns about Amedée’s proposal due to her past ten-year tenure working for BESE. She mentioned encountering subpar applications from parents seeking to homeschool their children.

Amedée’s bill would allow students completing nonapproved home-school programs to qualify for TOPS assistance, even without meeting the required ACT score. The language in House Bill 650 aligns with another measure authored by Amedée.

In response to concerns raised by Rep. Ken Brass, D-Vacherie, Amedée defended the lack of accountability in nonapproved home-school programs, emphasizing the absence of accountability in state public schools.

Amedée highlighted that her bill aims to remove the “dropout” label from students transitioning from public schools to home schooling, indicating it adversely impacts traditional schools during evaluations.

Lawmakers expressed uncertainty about the eligibility of home-schooled students for proposed education savings accounts (ESAs), which would allocate state funds to families opting out of public schools.

The current House and Senate ESA bills do not provide fund access to students in home study programs, approved or nonapproved. However, Sen. Rick Edmonds has suggested amendments to allow ESAs for home schooling.

The House ESA proposal moves to the Senate Committee on Education, while the Senate bill awaits review by the finance committee.

Amedée’s bill narrowly passed the House Education Committee with a 7-6 vote, with Rep. Laurie Schlegel breaking the tie. All seven approving votes came from Republicans, with dissenting votes from GOP members Freiberg and Michael Melerine, who previously held a BESE seat now occupied by his wife.

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