Homeschoolers Oppose HSLDA's Efforts
Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act (HONDA)
HR 2732 & SB 1562
As the previous legislative chair for California Homeschool Network, I learned first-hand the importance of each and every word included in legislative proposals. A poorly written piece of legislation can actually create more problems than it solves.
When special interest groups, of any sort, are able to draft and introduce bills before congress, they tend to create special classes of citizens with special provisions or entitlements. The NEA has been doing this for years, increasing their power and sphere of influence, to become what is now a very powerful lobbying force in Washington.
Special Interest Groups Lobby
Special interest groups continue to lobby congress for their own benefit, a practice that is working to destroy our freedoms and our way of life. Those who doubt this fact need only to visit the website for the NEA, NASW, NOW and the ACLU, just to name a few. A quick glance will show you just how far reaching these organizations are in their attempts to influence legislation.
Under the guise of homeschool freedom, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is one such group. As homeschoolers we are being asked to support these bills.
HSLDA representatives say, "Homeschoolers do not want federal handouts, just equal treatment. HONDA will bring federal law up-to-date with changes in the state education systems, particularly regarding the homeschooling movement."
Laws vary widely from state-to-state, ranging from no regulation or notification what-so-ever to strict laws, required testing and periodic reviews. Other states, such as California have no homeschooling law at all. Those who choose home education, do so under private school laws. There has been debate in California for some time over whether a home-school is a private school and whether it is or not, to what extent the government has the powers to intercede.
The Constitution of the United States guarantees all the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty can only exist if a state-compelled interest does not.
Many compulsory education laws, as written, compel the students to use public education (a state-funded and provided service) under state guidance and control or require alternate "approved" educational establishments, again, compelled to serve the states interests. The state, then, has a financial and social interest in the educational choices you make.
At the very least this bill would define homeschooling and open up a can of worms, if not today, within these particular pieces of legislation, then certainly down the road. We have no way of looking into our crystal ball and seeing just how another administration may view homeschooling.
Once the term "homeschool" has been defined under federal law, each state is obliged to enact legislation to come under compliance, not simply for the funding, but also as a means of maintaining federal legislative compliance. Such legislation would be open for public debate and input from educational lobbyists, including teachers unions who are notarious for their opposition to homeschool efforts.
HSLDA has far-reaching tentacles with deep pockets. The organization is often criticized for attempting to speak for all homeschoolers nationwide. Yet, a perusal of their website disavows this myth. This national group lists only Christian support groups, to the exclusion of all others. Are we to believe that only Christians homeschool?
HR 2732 & SB 1562 were written, if not entirely then at least in part, by HSLDA attorneys, with little or no input from national or statewide homeschool organizations. Yet, the provisions in these bills, if passed, will affect every homeschooler, in every state across the nation.
Many of the provisions in this bill, I suspect, were included to ensure the need for competent legal representation for many years to come: something HSLDA specializes in and would be certain to benefit from.
As homeschooling has become legal in every state over the past twenty-years HSLDA membership needed to be shored up as their services became obsolete. Instead of choosing to shift its focus into other arenas, HSLDA teamed up with Christian support groups. Many such support groups now require HSLDA membership, in order to join their group or organization. Of course, a generous 15% discount applies.
This author believes their talents could be put to much better use, defending loving parents in the many unfounded child abuse cases each year. Child Protective Services are known to act first and investigate later, if at all. Many children end up in foster care, while their parents struggle to regain rights to their children. In most instances losing their home and any assets to pay mounting legal fees. If their children are ever returned, they have no home to return to, leaving the family to end up living in poverty.
Over the years strong legislation has been introduced in attempts to assist abused children. Child protection laws were once regulated on a state level. However, since 1974, many laws have been passed by the U.S. Congress that impact children and families and the agencies that serve them.
These laws have had chilling results and have effectively placed a bounty on the heads of children. As the list of mandated reporters continues to grow, so does the list of infractions and the federal-funded destruction of the family unit.
Just as allowing the federal government to tamper with state child abuse and neglect laws, failing to strengthen families and provide a safe-haven for children, the introduction of federal "homeschooling" legislation is certain to provide another hammer families will be forced to defend themselves against.
HSLDA has helped a great many parents over the years, but it is time they learn to work with others. This is an important issue to not only homeschoolers, but all parents, and has potential for unchecked, far-reaching effects.
We need to talk about this in public forums, within homeschooling circles and bring everyone to the table and reach a consensus on this issue.
- Do we really need federal legislation for homeschooling?
- Do the benefits out-weigh the risks?
- How do these bills affect people living in different states, under vastly differing laws?
Homeschooling is not "one-size-fits-all" and neither is the solution.
I urge you to discuss this with your statewide homeschooling organization, take a close look at the laws in your own state. Measure these federal bills against your own states laws. Do they help or create more problems?
Please take the time to address this with your legislators, let them know how the bill affects you. Either support, oppose or offer amendments to these bills. The most important thing you can do is directly participate in the process.
Updated: September 1, 2008