LB 58, Kintner, 2; Brasch, 16; Erdman, 47
LB 58 would change current provisions relating to homeschooled student participation in extracurricular activities by requiring school boards to establish policies and procedures that may require such students participating in extracurricular activities pursuant to this section to enroll in no more than one course offered for credit by such school. One course meeting 5 days per week is counted as 5 credit hours of schoolwork. Additionally, LB 58 adds the following requirement quoted from the bill below:
(2) Any student who withdraws from a public school to enroll in a school which elects pursuant to section 79-1601 not to meet accreditation or approval requirements shall not participate in an extracurricular activity in any public school district pursuant to subsection (3) of this section for three hundred sixty-five days after the date such student withdraws from the public school.
Currently, schools require the homeschool student to participate in four courses as required the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) for homeschool students to participate in certain extracurricular activities. According to NSAA Constitution and ByLaws, ”1.To be a participant in any NSAA activity at either the varsity or non-varsity levels of competition, an individual must be a bona fide student of a member high school. Exempt-school or home-school students, unless enrolled in a minimum of twenty credit hours of schoolwork in the member high school, are not eligible to represent a member school in NSAA activities, regardless of the level of participation or competition.”
The topic of homeschool student participation in Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) member school extracurricular activities has been a topic on many bills in the past — LB 534 in 2003, LB 896 in 2004, LB 270 in 2005, and LB 821 in 2006. LB 821 in 2006 resulted in the current law.
In 2015, Senator Kintner sponsored LB 103 (did not get out of the Education Committee). LB 58 is nearly identical to LB 103, with the only significant difference being new added language quoted above from section (2) of LB 58. LB 103 opponents consisted of only the Executive Director and Board President of the Nebraska Schools Activities Association. The new one year sit-out requirement came about due to concerns presented by the NSAA at the 2015 LB 103 hearing that students with poor grades might quit their member school to home school, and then attempt to get right back into their NSAA activity. The 1 year delay is intended by the NSAA to prevent such actions. The disturbing assumption with this is that it still presumes that homeschool parents will misrepresent their first-year homeschool students’ performance so they may be permitted by deception to participate, even for those students who were performing well prior to homeschooling. It seems quite reasonable that the NSAA concerns could be handled by making the one year sit-out requirement apply only to students removed from NSAA member schools who are scholastically ineligible for NSAA activities upon departure to home education. Many poor performing students in traditional schools do very well when homeschooled; hence, the one year sit-down seems excessively long. Overall, the one year sit-down appears to be a punitive measure that would prevent parents from homeschooling their children.
The NCHEA will testify for LB 58, stressing that home school parents should have the ability to make these choices because they pay taxes to the public schools and because the Nebraska Constitution says that “The Legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools of this state of all persons between the age of five and twenty-one years.” The NCHEA will stress that should LB 58 be amended in a way that increases government control of education performed at home, the NCHEA membership will become greatly concerned and we would then oppose the bill.
The NCHEA will also present the amendment suggested above; i.e., making the sit-out requirement apply only to students removed from NSAA member schools who are scholastically ineligible for NSAA activities upon departure to home education, and to shorten the sit-down from the excessive one-year length.
Interested parents should plan to testify at the hearing. The Education Committee hearing is scheduled for Monday, January 30,2017, room 1525 – 1:30 PM
LB 118, Hilkemann, 4:
LB 118 is the Education Savings Account Act. The bill allows the parents of all legally operated schools in the state, including home schools, to setup a qualified account for educational expenses for their children. In addition, Section 4 allows the following:
Sec. 4. (1) Any natural person, firm, partnership, limited liability company, association, or corporation may contribute up to two thousand dollars per calendar year to an account. Contributions shall only be in the form of cash. Such contributions may be invested at the direction of the account owner in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or certificates of deposit as offered by the financial institution where the account is established.
(2) The tax implications of contributions to an account and the earnings on such contributions shall be as provided in subsection (15) of section 77-2716. [See referenced new section immediately below].
(15)(a) Federal adjusted gross income or, for corporations and fiduciaries, federal taxable income shall be reduced, to the extent included, by income from interest earned on any account established under the Education Savings Account Act.
(b) Federal adjusted gross income or, for corporations and fiduciaries, federal taxable income shall be reduced by contributions to an account established under the Education Savings Account Act, to the extent not deducted for federal income tax purposes.
(c) Federal adjusted gross income or, for corporations and fiduciaries, federal taxable income shall be increased by the amount of any withdrawals by the owner of an account established under the Education Savings Account Act for nonqualified expenses to the extent previously deducted under subdivision (15)(b) of this section.
Homeschool parents generally spend their own money for the education of their children. LB 118 would allow them a tax break for both contributions (up to $2,000 per year) and interest on education money kept in their Education Savings Account setup for each student in their family. It would also provide that contributions to an account can come from essentially anyone including entities outside the family up to $2,000 per year per contributor per account and that each contributor can receive tax benefits on the amount contributed to each account.
For more details about LB 118, read the Education Savings Account Act. LB 118 appears to dovetail with the Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts at the federal level; see HSLDA article Coverdell ESA Fix Will Treat Homeschoolers Fairly.
The Revenue Committee hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January, 26, 2017, Room 1524 – 1:30 PM. The NCHEA will testify in favor of the bill. Interested parents may want to testify at the hearing.
LB 155, Brasch, 16:
LB 155 would add a requirement that any student who graduates from a legal school, including an exempt homeschool, as a prerequisite to graduation shall have correctly answered at least seventy percent of the questions on the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The entire text of LB 155 follows:
Section 1. It is the intent of the Legislature that the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services be available to every student in a Nebraska high school in order that the students demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of United States history and the principles of United States government.
Sec. 2. (1) For purposes of this section, civics test means a written test using all of the one hundred potential questions listed for the civics portion of the naturalization test by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services as of January 1, 2017.
(2) For any student who graduates from high school during or after the 2018-19 school year, such high school student shall correctly answer at least seventy percent of the questions on the civics test as a prerequisite to graduation.
(3) Each school district, private, denominational, and parochial school, and school that elects pursuant to section 79-1601 not to meet accreditation or approval requirements may determine the method and manner in which to administer the civics test to each student. A student may take the civics test, in whole or in part, at any time after enrolling in grade nine and may repeat the civics test, or any portion thereof, as often as necessary to achieve the score required under subsection (2) of this section. A child with a disability as defined in section 79-1117 may be exempted from the requirement of this section by the provisions of his or her individualized education plan.
(4) No fees or charges may be imposed on or collected from any student in connection with this section.
When given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for naturalization purposes, the civics test is an oral test and the USCIS Officer will ask the applicant up to 10 of the 100 civics questions. An applicant must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test. Click Civics (History and Government) Questions for the Naturalization Test to see what the current 100 test questions are, the ones that LB 155 would be using.
For purposes of LB 155, the student must correctly answer 70 out of the 100 questions sometime while in grades 9-12 in order to graduate from high school.
The NCHEA holds that while other schools may be deficient in educating students about civics that is not the case for home education. The NCHEA believes that LB 155:
- Is an encroachment on the current exemption law for home education.
- Is not necessary for home schools; they already cover civics better than most traditional schools.
- Studies show that homeschool students in low regulation states perform just as well as homeschool students in high regulation states; at an average 87th percentile. Hence, more regulation does not improve home education.
The NCHEA will oppose LB 155 at the Education Committee hearing; not yet scheduled.
 Civics (History and Government) Questions for the Naturalization Test (rev. 01/17), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Dept. of Homeland Security, p. 1, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Office%20of%20Citizenship/Citizenship%20Resource%20Center%20Site/Publications/100q.pdf
 Homeschool Progress Report 2009, Brian D. Ray, PhD., National Home Education Research Institute, “Critics also insist that the government should regulate homeschooling in order to ensure the quality of education that students receive. However, in this study, the degree to which homeschooling was regulated by state governments had no bearing on student test scores”, p. 3, © 2009 by Home School Legal Defense Association and Brian D. Ray, http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray2009/2009_Ray_StudyFINAL.pdf.