"If Miller and other Democrats weren't trying to control home schools, [Representative John] Linder (R-GA) said, they would not have defeated an amendment by Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX) specifying that nothing in the bill 'shall be construed to authorize or encourage federal control over the curriculum or practices of any private, religious or home school.'"
Mike Christensen, The Atlanta Constitution, February 22
"The controversy has reminded Congress about the Christian right's clout."
Richard Whitmire, The Detroit News, February 23
"In his two decades in Washington, [Representative George Miller] has never gotten so many calls on any one subject. Exhausted aides have been forced to turn for the first time to a telephone answering machine during business hours, which assures home-school callers that Miller plans to vote their way. The recording tells any other callers to simply leave a message."
Louis Freedburg, San Francisco Chronicle, February 24
"It began in an obscure law office in Purcellville, Va., when Mike Farris put a letter in his fax machine and hit 'send.'
"Since that fateful moment eight days ago, telephones on Capitol Hill and in congressional offices across the nation have been ringing with the outrage of Americans worried that Congress is trying to stop them from home-schooling their children."
Lori Montgomery, Detroit Free Press, February 24
"Bowing to an outcry from the religious right and other advocates of home schooling, the House of Representatives declared today that nothing in an elementary and secondary education bill applied to parents who teach their children at home."
Associated Press, February 24
"Sponsors of the bill also asked that the home school issue be taken up at the beginning of floor debate so that the issue could be laid to rest.
"'Our goal is to spare every member of Congress a second week of phone calls,' said Representative Steve Gunderson, a Wisconsin Republican."
Associated Press, February 24
"The Ford amendment exempting home schooling passed on a voice vote, but the membership demanded and got a roll-call vote so their vote could be on record for the thousands who jammed their telephone lines to vent their feelings on an issue that many said generated more telephone calls and faxes than homosexuals in the military-and with almost no national press."
The Washington Times, February 25
"And, as a sign of the fear instilled by thousands of telephone calls to Capitol Hill, members voted 374-53 for additional language by Texas Rep. Dick Armey saying neither home schools nor private schools would be subject to federal control-even after the certification provision was removed by a previous amendment."
Nancy Mathis, Houston Chronicle, February 25
"The House action was a remarkable example of the power of grass-roots activism.
"In a change of heart prompted by the deluge of phone calls, some Democrats who rebuffed Armey's attempts to modify the legislation in committee last week went out of their way to defend home schools.
"Several lawmakers said they have never seen a similar outburst of voter anger in an issue before Congress."
Ron Hutchinson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 25
"The home-schooling issue overwhelmed the Capitol's phone system for days, demonstrating anew the power of orchestrated grass-roots campaigns in lobbying Congress."
Phil Kuntz, The Congressional Quarterly, February 26
"The home-schoolers virtually shut down several offices at times over the past two weeks by lodging as many as 80 calls an hour to one office, or by camping out in offices. They made a run on copies of the 1,000 page legislation, wiping out the House Document Room's supply of 1,500 copies."
Education Week, March 2
"In the end, Miller, by refusing to be cowed by this heavy-handed scare campaign, is the only member deserving of the term leader. As for Farris, he flexed the muscle of the religious right in an impressive show of strength. But he wasted that capital on a niggling paragraph.
"Farris has done a tremendous disfavor to the good, trusting people who called Congress at Chicken Little's behest. Washington Democratic staffers generally have had little more than a sneer for members of the religious right before this. An onslaught of calls from these apparent gulls cannot have enhanced the home-schoolers' image. You just know how aides see home-schoolers now. As lemmings. With muscles. . . .
"There is a recurring problem on the right. Well-meaning folk get misled and used as they boost someone else's cynical climb up the power ladder. But the climbers aren't serious about change. In the end, the climbees are left with footprints on their faces."
Debra J. Saunders, syndicated columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle, March 4
"When U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) attempted two weeks ago to slip certification requirements into the massive Elementary and Secondary Education Act (H.R. 6), he unwittingly activated the Committees of Correspondence of our era. Thousands of faxes produced over a million calls to congressional switchboards. The constituent response was so heavy that some congressmen stopped answering the phone. . . .
"Within 24 hours of the fax alert, congressional offices were already deluged with mail. As [HSLDA's Doug] Phillips took 60 trained home school lobbyists to Capitol Hill with packets of information for each representative, calls were pouring in. Up and down the corridors staffers and representatives talked about nothing else. . . .
"Who gets the credit for the victory? Bob Morrison of the Family Research Council and Gary Deedrick both gave credit to Mike Farris and the HSLDA for bringing the issue to national prominence. HSLDA praised Dick Armey and his staff. Credit also goes to Samuel Adams, who two centuries ago helped to create the Committees of Correspondence-the model of a person-to-person communications network that changed history at a time when national media were not telling the whole story."
Susan Olasky, World magazine, March 5
"Sometimes folks just need a good swift kick to get them started in the right direction. Recently, Congress experienced such a kick-and from a most unlikely source-home-educating parents. . . .
"One of our goals was to help those we met have a better understanding of home schooling, who we are, what we do and why we do it. It was necessary training for Congress. I could sense their unfamiliarity with this group of taxpayers. Perhaps they had pre-conceived ideas of parents who teach their children. Maybe they thought we were folks who wore Earth Shoes and named our kids Moonbeam and Sunshine. Instead, they discovered that we were just average American parents. We not only teach our children about our government process, but we are also involved in it. . . .
"While some of us were standing outside the Education Committee office, a man came up to us bemoaning how his office had been inundated with calls from 'you people' and that 'they' didn't have time to hassle with this. After all, there were more important things in H.R. 6 to worry about than us. While I was more than shocked by his attitude, I didn't feel sorry for him, because jamming the Capitol's telephone lines is the democratic protest expressed to the fullest. . . .
"We did have an effect on the 103rd Congress this time, and for that we are proud and thankful-proud of those representatives who voted in favor of Rep. Dick Armey's amendment and thankful that our American system of government still works."
Joyce Mucci, home schooler from Missouri who came to Capitol Hill to lobby, in a letter published in the Washington Times, March 7
"Two weeks ago [HSLDA's Mike] Farris spearheaded one of the most stunning upsets of the liberal applecart in recent years, and now his critics might want to rethink their allegations that political ineffectiveness would be the inevitable fruit of his links to the Christian Right.
"Farris organized a massive protest effort against the amendment, which had been added to the bill by liberal California Democrat Rep. George Miller. Although he had only about a week to persuade legislators to vote against it, Farris succeeded beyond his wildest dreams . . .
"Though others, including Family Research Council President Gary Bauer, played a role in creating the whirlwind of opposition to the amendment-more angry telephone calls were received at the Capitol switchboard than over gays in the military, NAFTA, and the 1990 pay raise combined-everyone across the political spectrum credited Farris with being the main galvanizing force."
Human Events, March 11
"The home schoolers demonstrated the empowering nature of electronic communities, with their ability to link dispersed citizens and inspire them to inform themselves and act as individuals or collectively. . . .
"The home schoolers I've gotten to know are some of the most thoughtful, informed and active parents in the country. To alienate them . . . would be a great loss.
"Meanwhile, as we wait for the information superhighway to bring interactive shopping, games and entertainment to our homes, digital computer networks are providing a means for likeminded groups to unite, to plan, to share information, to organize and to plot small revolutions in kitchens and dens across America."
Michele Lifshen, graduate student in interactive telecommunications at New York University, in a letter published in the New York Times, March 21