Bill in the Works to Abolish Federal Department of Education
The National Center for Home Education has prepared legislation to decisively end the federal role in education. At this stage, Christopher Klicka, Michael Farris, and Doug Phillips have been working to secure sponsors for the bill. Numerous meetings have already taken place in congressional offices to discuss this important endeavor.
If passed, the bill would cut more than 60 billion dollars in education funding and completely end the role of government in all areas of classroom instruction and curriculum. The National Center for Home Education is committed to introducing this bill and following through on its passage.
The moment we secure a sponsor and a bill number, we will notify home school leaders throughout the states and our membership. A strong push from constituents will be vital to convince our congressmen that we want to end the federal government's role in educating our children.
U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child Still Alive
Recently, we explained that HSLDA now has written confirmation from 35 Senators who oppose the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. This will serve as a significant deterrent, but it will not block all attempts for passage of this Convention.
One of the reasons 35 opposing senators does not guarantee defeat of the Convention is a technicality in the United States Constitution. In Article 2 section 2, the Constitution states that the President shall "have power, by and with the advice and consent with the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the senators present concur." This means when the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child comes before the Senate, it could still be voted on and passed even though all the senators are not there. The Constitution explicitly states "2/3 of the senators present."
In early September, Michael Farris was contacted by the White House concerning the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The White House official stated that President Clinton was planning to send the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Senate soon. However, the White House officials wanted to meet with HSLDA to determine what adjustments could be made to make the Convention acceptable to home schoolers.
Our response was that no changes could be made to make the document acceptable. The White House officials responded, however, that they would still like to meet with us in order to specifically hear our objections. At the time of this report we have not heard back from them.
This means the constant pressure that home schoolers have placed on the Senate over the last two years has been felt at the White House. We cannot let up the pressure now.
Action: Keep the calls flowing into the Senate. Ask your senator to oppose the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. They can secure their opposition to the U.N. Convention by signing Senate Resolution 133, introduced by Senators Lott and Helms, which specifically condemns the U.N. Convention and asks President Clinton not to send it to the Senate for ratification. Although we have 36 senators on record as opposed to the Convention, only 25 senators have signed S.R. 133. We need more U.S. Senators to sign on.
National Tracking Bill
Previously, we informed you that the Immigrant Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1995 had been introduced in the House as H.R. 1915 and in the Senate as S.B. 269. The House version of this bill has now been changed from H.R. 1915 to H.R. 2202. However, the bill in its new form remains substantially the same.
H.R. 2202 has no references to a national identity card nor the establishment of an Office of Employment and Benefits under Attorney General Janet Reno. However, it still includes a national database established through the social security system and a requirement that all employers check with the Social Security commissioner before hiring a new employee. This is certainly the way of regulation and control rather than the way of freedom.
The Senate Bill 269 remains the worst of the two bills, creating a separate national computer registry and a much more onerous and complicated tracking system which requires employers to seek approval for every employee they hire.
Recently, Michael Farris spoke at a press conference at the National Press Club, where he joined forces with many other organizations to oppose the national computer registry and identity card system. The National Center for Home Education is targeting the Judiciary Committee members in the House with a FAX alert to its CAP coordinators. The bill has not moved in the Senate; however, it is expected to move in October. Upon passage through the House and Senate, the two versions will go to conference committee.
Action: We need to continue calls to the Senate and the House, urging opposition to the national database and I.D. card provisions of S. 269 and the national database provision of H.R. 2202. The privacy of all citizens is at stake.
The Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act Makes Progress
The Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act (PRRA), primarily drafted by the Home School Legal Defense Association, was introduced in the House and Senate as H.R. 1946 and S. 984. The purpose of this act is to affirm the rights of parents to control the upbringing and training of their children-rights which have been eroded by conflicting court decisions throughout the states. The PRRA would reaffirm the fundamental right of parents to direct or provide for the education of their children, control their religious training, make medical decisions, and administer corporal punishment.
Presently we have secured over 75 congressmen in the House who are co-sponsoring the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act. Congressman Steve Largent has spearheaded the effort to secure the passage of the PRRA. Target dates for subcommittee hearings in the House have been set for October 13 and October 27. Michael Farris will testify at these subcommittee hearings as a constitutional trial expert along with other witnesses who were subject to decisions which took away their fundamental rights to rear their children.
Michael Farris and Christopher Klicka recently participated in a briefing of Senate staffers on the Hill. The PRRA was well received at the briefing.
The National Center for Home Education prepared a FAX alert to the CAP district coordinators in Texas. The Alert went out in reaction to the Texas Attorney General's argument in his appeal brief which stated, "The right to direct the education and upbringing of your child is not a fundamental right."
The attorney general of Texas appealed the Maxwell v. Texas Education Agency Case, #11-95-234-CV, which was recently decided by the 295th District Court in Harris County. In the alert to Texas CAP coordinators, Christopher Klicka emphasized that Texas congressmen needed to be made aware of the attorney general's position in the Maxwell case, since this is more evidence for the desperate need for the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act.
Action: Home Schoolers need to continue a steady stream of calls going to their congressmen to build support for the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act. This is one of the most important pieces of legislation this year.
Protective Amendment Added to H.R. 1617
On September 19, 1995, House Resolution 1617, The CAREERS ACT, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by 345 to 79. While H.R. 1617 does not mandate implementation of mandatory skills certificates to be achieved before a student can secure a job, or require employers to only hire children with skills certificates, it does establish local workforce development boards and geographical workforce development areas. It also refers several times to skill certificates, skill standards, and a National Skill Standards Board.
The goal of the bill is to eliminate fifty federal education and training programs and consolidate one-hundred duplicated federal programs into four categorical block grants. H.R. 1617 kills the School-To-Work Opportunities Act, which was passed last year, before it expires in 2001. Because it is more "efficient" than the present government program, conservatives and Republicans supported this bill.
Taking a precautionary step, Christopher Klicka, Executive Director of the National Center for Home Education, contacted several key congressmen and encouraged them to endorse amendments prepared by the Family Research Council. As a result of these congressmen's pressure, Congressman William Goodling (R-PA), Chairman of the House Education Committee, introduced one of the amendments and asked for unanimous consent for its immediate consideration. He was granted permission, and the amendment was passed unanimously by voice vote.
Section 112 and 211 (d) of H.R. 1617 now states, "nothing in this Act shall mandate that any individual, particularly youth served under Title II of this Act, be required to choose a specific career path or major or to meet federally funded or endorsed industry-recognized skill standards or obtain federally funded or endorsed skill certificates." This prohibits states mandating that students be required to obtain a skill certificate in order to secure a job.
On October 11, 1995, the Senate voted 97 to 2 to pass the Senate version of H.R. 1617 (also referred to as S.143). The bill is very similar to H.R. 1617. However, it does not include the amendments the National Center endorsed, since all amendments were blocked by Senator Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS). Key Senators have assured us that our House amendment quoted above will remain during the conference committee process as the two bills are merged. We are planning a phone blitz to the conference as soon as the dates are set.