The Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act Status Report
On June 6, HSLDA and National Center staff members, along with Congressional Action Program volunteers, delivered a 1½"-thick portfolio on the PRRA to all 535 congressional offices on Capitol Hill. This counter-offensive was necessary to answer the many objections anti-parent groups have presented to congressmen.
Enemies of parental rights are angry. "Child's rights" advocates are horrified. The National Education Association is livid. The educational elite are outraged. All the usual suspects are worried sick about the potential of the PRRA to protect the right of parents to control the education and upbringing of their children. For these groups and their minions, killing the PRRA has become "priority one."
But for the present, "pro-child," anti-parent forces are on the defensive. Support for the PRRA continues to grow. However, opposition from teacher unions and child rights groups is also mounting. As the battle waxes hotter, it becomes increasingly apparent that the fight to enact the PRRA will carry over into the next legislative session. We now have more than 140 cosponsors in the House and fifteen in the Senate, with Senator Richard Shelby from Alabama signing on as the newest cosponsor. This growing support is largely due to the constant stream of calls and letters to Congress from home schoolers across the nation.
North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Corporal Punishment
In October 1994 the Cass County Social Services received an allegation that the Raboin family was spanking their children with "objects" as a form of discipline. The Raboins were visited by a social worker who filed a written report concluding that there was a "probable cause to believe that child abuse had occurred." Although no charges were brought, the Raboins were confirmed in the registry as child abusers for simply spanking their children.
In North Dakota, families have the right to file a written request for review of their case by the North Dakota Department of Human Services. In order to clear their name, the Raboins appealed their entry in the registry.
At the administrative hearing, the hearing officer recommended that the determination of probable cause of abuse should be reversed. But the director of the Department of Human Services rejected the hearing officer's recommendation and upheld the probable cause determination. The Raboins, through their attorney Monty Mertz, from Fargo, appealed to the District Court of Cass County. The district court upheld the department's determination of probable cause.
Finally, the Raboins appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court. On June 27, 1996, the Court ruled, in a 5-0 decision, to reverse both the Department of Human Services and the district court decisions. The Court declared that the department's finding of probable cause to believe child abuse had occurred simply for spanking is "not supported by a preponderance of the evidence and this application of the statute by the Department is not in accord with the law."
We praise God for this ruling by the North Dakota Supreme Court. A parent's traditional right to administer corporal discipline for their children has come under attack in the last two decades. The Parents Rights and Responsibilities Act includes the right of parents to administer corporal punishment. The Raboin case will provide a major boost for our efforts to secure the PRRA in spite of the child's rights advocates opposition, in particular, to the corporal punishment clause of the Act. HSLDA, in the meantime, continues to be active in working toward reform of child welfare laws, state by state, in order to protect the rights of parents who are being abused by the system.
CAREERS Act Passes Conference Committee
The CAREERS Act finally passed out of conference committee after approximately ten months of negotiation. The National Center for Home Education has worked diligently with conference staffers to remove the worst aspects of CAREERS. The new conference committee version preserves the amendments which we had included in the original House version. In addition, due largely to our pressure, the conference committee version completely repeals the School-to-Work legislation passed two years earlier. All references to skills certificates or standards have also been removed, along with references to a National Skills Standards Board. There are a number of other improvements, including provisions to prevent the creation of national databases.
If the bill passed, most government programs would be consolidated, though still intact. While we will have the protection of the amendments discussed above, the unconstitutional role of the federal government in job training and education will be prolonged. If the CAREERS bill is not passed, the existing programs such as the School-to-Work Act which is much worse, will simply continue. Unfortunately, it is a lose/lose situation.
Goals 2000 Just Won't Die
The National Center continues to monitor implementation of Goals 2000 mandates. Six states refused or discontinued Goals 2000 funding. Earlier in the 1996 fiscal year, federal budgets eliminating Goals 2000 were submitted by the House. The Senate, however, restored the funding. Since the education package cut much of the Department of Education's spending, the president vetoed it, leaving Goals 2000 in place.
During the last week of April, Congress and the President agreed on an education budget for 1996. In that budget, $350 million was appropriated for Goals 2000 funding. This is $28 million less than was appropriated in 1995-but, of course, $350 million more than should have been appropriated at all. However, there are several amendments that significantly change Goals 2000-some for the better.
The amendments, for example, formally eliminate the National Education Standards and Improvement Council and no longer require states to develop "opportunity-to-learn standards."
Section 706 is completely amended to prohibit Goals 2000 funds from being used to provide outcome based education!
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require a state or local education agency or school as a condition of receiving assistance under this Title to provide outcome-based education or to provide school-based health clinics or any other health or social services.
Another amendment limiting government officials states:
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require or permit any federal or state official to inspect a home, judge how parents raise their children, or remove children as a result of the participation of the state or educational agency or school in any program or activity carried out under this Act.
Amendments to Goals 2000 also include the right of school districts to apply directly to the Secretary of Education for funding even if their state does not participate. This means that the Department of Education can do an "end run" around governors who refuse to accept Goals 2000 funding. Although the requirement that states submit their improvement plans to the Secretary of Education for approval has been eliminated, states taking Goals 2000 funding will still have to draft plans based on the mandates of Goals 2000 and promise the money will be spent in accordance with the mandates.
The ultimate goal, of course, is the complete elimination of Goals 2000; therefore even with the amendments the act is still far from acceptable.
Iowa Bill Urges Ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) continues to be one of the most dangerous documents in existence. If ratified by the U.S. Senate, the convention would virtually destroy parental rights as we know them in the United States. Thus far, God has graciously helped us keep this treaty at bay. However, there are many forces pushing the treaty forward.
For example, the Iowa legislature introduced H.R. 108 earlier this year. This resolution specifically asked the Senate to ratify the CRC, stating that one of the reasons for the bill is that
... a country that ratifies the Convention is obligated to bring its laws in line with the Convention and to report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child within two years of ratification on the country's efforts to comply with the Convention.
H.R. 108, which thankfully was tabled, serves as further confirmation of the direct impact this treaty would have on our nation's domestic policy in the area of parental rights. If ratified, this treaty would be much more than symbolic—it would become the law of the land.
CAP Basic Training Day for Home School Lobbyists
Addressing a crowded room of dedicated home schoolers in northern Virginia on August 24, Congressional Action Program Director Doug Phillips spoke on the nuts and bolts of effective home school lobbying, the presentation of home schooling in the best possible light to legislators, the in's and out's of the Congressional process, the battle for the child, and Biblical principles for making an appeal.
National Center Executive Director Christopher Klicka gave a detailed overview of the 1997 CAP agenda: CAP will continue to monitor all federal legislation pertaining to parental rights and privacy, and CAP will also work to stop intrusive federal attempts to register and track American citizens.
Several well-seasoned CAP volunteers shared their experiences-from amusing anecdotes of first visits to how involvement in CAP had developed new skills and confidence in each family member. Attendees went home encouraged and ready for their first day of lobbying.
To participate in the next CAP basic training session on February 1, 1997, contact Caleb Kershner at the National Center for Home Education, (540) 338-7600.
[CAPTION] Doug Phillips explains how CAP legislative packets can be used as a tool to keep lobby visits on track.
[CAPTION] Experienced CAP families answer questions about visiting Hill offices.