The Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act (H.R. 1946/S. 984)
The list of co-sponsors for the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act (PRRA) has grown to more than 130 in the House and 10 in the Senate.
Home School Legal Defense Association and the National Center for Home Education have been working with the congressional sponsors to fine-tune the language of the bill.
On March 7, the National Center sponsored a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill for state home school leaders from 46 states. Many congressmen addressed the group on the PRRA. On March 8, the National Center organized an intensive lobbying day with our Congressional Action Program volunteers and visiting state home school leaders. Many of the participants were able to personally visit with U.S. Senators and Representatives to gain support for the PRRA and immigration/tracking amendment (see accompanying article).
The House and Senate sub-committees currently considering the PRRA are expected to issue favorable reports. At this time, however, no dates have been set for the PRRA to be considered by the full Judiciary Committees in either chamber.
Action: Home schoolers need to continue to deliver a steady stream of calls to their Senators and Representatives to build support for the PRRA. The implications of this bill make it a priority.
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child
Thirty-seven Senators have expressed their opposition in writing to the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, the battle is not over. Left-wing children's rights groups are heavily lobbying the Clinton Administration and selected Senators for ratification.
On January 17, 1996, UNICEF issued a press release titled, "Child Rights Convention Close to Universal Acceptance With 186 Ratifications; Only Six More to Go." It began,
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today announced that only six countries remained until universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention has broken all records as the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history with the ratification by 186 state parties. . . .
The only six countries in the world which have yet to ratify are Switzerland, United States, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Emirates, and Somalia. Switzerland and the United States have already signed indicating their intention to ratify….
Ratification of the Convention obligates governments to bring their laws in line with the Convention….
But ratification of the Convention is itself just another step in a much bigger process. Governments, communities, and children themselves must work together to make the Convention a living charter for children's rights. In bringing a new legal focus of children's issues, countries are now enacting new laws, and amending national legislation to conform with the Convention's provisions. Special legal codes for children have been promulgated. Reports to the Committee of the Rights of the Child, and other sources cites specific examples of basic measures countries are taking to comply with the Convention.
In Mexico, for instance, the constitutionally recognized Convention is considered "supreme law of the land."
Action: Remain vigilant. Remember, ungratified treaties never die; they can always be brought up for a vote. Home schoolers are encouraged to continue sending letters to their Senators, reminding them to vote against ratification.
The Immigration Control and Financial Responsibilities Act
Senate Bill 269 and its companion bill, H.R. 2202, provide classic examples of a case of the cure being worse than the disease. Attempting to deal with the nation's illegal immigration problem, these bills create a greater problem by proposing the establishment of a national database to verify the employment eligibility of every American worker. The National Center for Home Education and Home School Legal Defense Association oppose all national tracking systems and are working against those aspects of this legislation.
A diverse coalition of more than fifty organizations has formed to oppose the identification and tracking provisions in these bills. The National Center and HSLDA have signed a coalition letter addressed to the United States Senate expressing "unqualified opposition to anything resembling a national worker identification card, national worker registry, or any other comprehensive national database." The national Center also formed another coalition comprised of many pro-family groups which has had a positive impact as well.
In the Senate, the full Judiciary Committee "mark up" for S. 269 began on February 29, 1996. The coalition hopes to split the bill in half, separating the legal and illegal immigration sections.
Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Spencer Abraham (R-MI) are working with our coalition to kill, by floor amendment, the national tracking registry.
Knowing that the situation was grim, the National Center launched a "surgical strike" fax alert on March 4 asking home schoolers to call members of the Judiciary Committee and urge support of the Abraham/Feingold amendment. The amendment failed in the Judiciary Committee by a 9 to 9 vote. The split in the vote, however, indicates that the amendment will be successful on the Senate floor.
Meanwhile, Feingold and Abraham have introduced S. 1535, which removes the national registry requirements, increases the penalties for illegal immigration, and boosts law enforcement. It is expected to be voted on in the full Senate in mid-April.
In the House, a floor vote on H.R. 2202 took place in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 20. Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) offered a floor amendment to kill the registry portion of the House version of the bill. The National Center and Home School Legal Defense Association launched a nationwide alert to remove the onerous provisions of the bill which would create an expanded national registry and require employers to call a 1-800-BIG-BROTHER number to seek approval before hiring someone.
Although the Chabot amendment failed, the thousands of calls pouring into the House effectively killed Representative Elton Gallegly's (R-CA) amendment by a vote of 86 "ayes" to 331 "nays" (14 members did not vote). The Gallegly amendment would have made the 1-800-BIG-BROTHER number mandatory. Also, the calls contributed to Lamar Smith, the sponsor of the bill, changing the national registry provision from mandatory to voluntary just days before the vote.
Action: Home schoolers and all concerned citizens need to immediately contact their U.S. Senators and ask them to vote for the Abraham/Feingold amendment to eliminate all national registry provisions to S. 269.
[CAPTION] Representative Steve Chabot's amendment to strike the national registry provision from H.R. 2202 was killed.
[CAPTION] Pro-family lobbyists created this tongue-in-cheek temporary tattoo made to look like a bar code, a symbolization of the worker identification system H.R. 2202 would create.
Representative Chabot sent this letter to HSLDA's Christopher Klicka, and, by extension, all home schoolers who worked to defeat the national tracking provision.
March 27, 1996
I write to express my profound appreciation for all the efforts that you, Mike, Doug, and home schoolers across the nation put into the fight against the employee electronic verification system proposed as part of the immigration bill. Your interest in this important issue and your civic participation should be applauded. You exerted a powerful impact upon the debate, and I believe that your membership was instrumental in helping to constrain the very bad concept of "1-800-BIG-BROTHER." Although we were not able to remove those provisions entirely from the bill, we were able to limit their reach and to draw a line that should be hard to breach.
As you know, the immigration bill as originally introduced was designed to impose a nationwide, mandatory employee electronic verification system. That approach would have made prevented any citizen anywhere in this country from taking a job without obtaining the express consent of the federal bureaucracy. Not only is such a system unworkable and a threat to the jobs of American citizens, it also is a direct affront to the principles of limited government that you and I share. I objected to the provision in the Judiciary Committee, and although we lost a Committee vote on deleting the measure, it was scaled back to a five-state mandatory "pilot project."
Opposition to that Committee-passed mandatory "pilot" grew and grew. As a result of serious concerns on the part of home schoolers and many, many others, the sponsors of the legislation made a strategic decision to limit the reach of the verification provisions still further. Only days before the bill actually reached the floor of the House, its sponsors announced that they were replacing the mandatory pilot with a five-state "voluntary" program in which employers could choose whether or not to participate. The program, of course, is not "voluntary" for covered employees, and questions remain as to how "voluntary" it will be for employers within the relevant states.
Seeking to stop "Big Brother" before he even got his foot in the door, we maintained our opposition to the new, "voluntary" approach. Many House members, it must be said, did welcome the efforts of the bill sponsors to scale back the program and to remove its mandatory features for employers. Therefore, the Chabot-Conyers amendment to delete the program lost on a vote of 159 to 260.
Proponents of 1-800-BIG-BROTHER then immediately made an effort to restore the mandatory provisions that had been contained in the Judiciary Committee version of the bill. I am very pleased that we were able to defeat this effort by the overwhelming margin of 86 in favor of expanding big government further to 331 against. This margin would not have been possible to obtain without the committed involvement of the home schoolers in pointing out all the problems with electronic employee verification.
The result is that while the camel's nose is now under the tent, we at least moved away from having the whole camel in the tent. This is a very real success, and I again thank you all for your active interest and concern.
Abolishing the Federal Role in Education
Home School Legal Defense Association and the National Center for Home Education are continuing to meet with Senators and Congressmen to promote the Restoring Local Schools Act. Home schoolers should wait to encourage their legislators to sign on as co-sponsors until a sponsor is secured and a bill number assigned.
A number of the of the Republican presidential candidates advocated abolishment of the Department of Education. This is significant, because the more that the issue is debated, the more palatable abolishment becomes to the body politic.
The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution of Arlington, Virginia, has released a paper entitled, Who Got It Right? What Proponents and Opponents of the Creation of the Department of Education Promised and Predicted. The two aspects of the study which are particularly significant are a) an account of the origin of the Department of Education, and b) statistics showing the poor track record of the Department of Education.
The paper, authored by John E. Berthoud, Ph.D., Vice President of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, focuses on six key areas: 1) benefits for school children; 2) overhead & bureaucracy; 3) efficiency; 4) local control; 5) cost; and 6) values. For each area Dr. Berthoud quotes what the supporters promised, what the opponents predicted (see "Voices from 1979," below), and then, based on the data of the last 17 years, demonstrates the reality that Department of Education has reduced local control, increased the cost, reduced the efficiency, and eroded the values of public education.
Copies of Who Got It Right? are available from the National Center for Home Education, P.O. Box 125, Paeonian Springs, VA 22129; (540) 338-5600. With your request, please include a self-addressed, 9"x13" envelope, metered or stamped with 78¢ postage.
PSAT Develops Home School Codes
For many years, home schoolers taking the PSAT have had difficulty filling in the section which asks for the "school code." PSAT has now established "Home School Codes." See below for your state's code.
Home School Codes
Home schooled students need to enter the 6-digit Home School code for their state in Section 6a on their answer sheets. For example, if there are home schooled students taking the test at your school who reside in Georgia, tell them to enter the code "991199" in Section 6a and "Home School Georgia" in Section 6b. Also the test supervisor will need to enter the appropriate code in Section 4: Other Schools on the 1995 PSAT/NMSQT Supervisor's Report.
990999 District of Columbia
993099 New Hampshire
993199 New Jersey
993299 New Mexico
993399 New York
993499 North Carolina
993599 North Dakota
994099 Rhode Island
994199 South Carolina
994299 South Dakota
994999 West Virginia
995499 Puerto Rico & U.S. Territories
995599 Outside the U.S.
Voices from 1979
Opponents of the establishment of the Department of Education
"Senator Moynihan and I have joined in opposing this bill. We have both been teachers for a long time. But it appears that our colleagues would rather listen to the unfounded pleas of people who know only that there are problems in our schools today, but who do not know how to solve them…. I wish someone would tell me how this new department is going to make our children literate? Or how it will erase the violence that has erupted in our schools?…"
- Senator S.I. Hayakawa
[R-CA, and former President of San Francisco State College], Congressional Record, September 24, 1979, Page 25826.
"This is a back room deal, born out of squalid politics. Everything we had thought we would not see happening to education is happening here."
- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan [D-NY], Congressional Record, July 11, 1979, Page 18038.
"No matter what anyone says, the Department of Education will not just write checks to local school boards. They will meddle in everything. I do not want that."
- Representative Pat Schroeder [D-CO], Congressional Record, September 27, 1979, Page 26534.
"An integral part of the NEA design is to siphon ever more control of public education from the grass roots to Washington, closer to its own powerful lobbying influence, farther from the parents and taxpayers who elect the school boards and pay the bills."
- Senator John Ashbrook [R-OH], Congressional Record, September 27, 1979, Page 26529.