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Freedom Watch

Legislative Goals for the 107th Congress

As the 107th Congress begins in earnest, HSLDA has identified a number of issues important to the home schooling community. In the last issue of the Court Report, we reported on the significant outcomes of our efforts in the 106th Congress. Legislative agendas must be viewed as "living" documents. With this in mind, we expect to adjust our goals based on new issues and political realities.

-Education Goals
-Family & Religious Freedom Issues
-Tax Related Issues

Education Goals

Protect, defend, and expand home school freedom through:

  1. Passing a universal home school exemption. This language would exempt home schoolers from all federal education acts, not only the ESEA. It was included in the House version of the ESEA in the last Congress.

  2. Eliminating discrimination against home schoolers in IDEA. This language would change current law and regulation that limit the eligibility of home schoolers in some states to receive special needs education services for their children. Presently, only home schools which legally operate as private schools can receive special needs assistance through IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act). This language would also exempt home schoolers who do not wish to comply with IDEA's Child Find provisions which require local school districts to locate and evaluate "all" special needs students.

  3. Opposing efforts to implement a federal test. This includes:
    • Prohibiting the appropriation of funds to design and implement a federal test.
    • Exempting home schoolers from any universal testing requirements.
    • Amending the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to restrict its ability to become a de facto national test.

  4. Passing education tax credits. The federal tax code should allow parents to receive a tax credit for their own education-related spending.

  5. Passing education savings accounts. Congress should expand education savings accounts that allow parents to save funds tax-free for K-12 home school education.

Reduce the size, scope and power of the federal role in education through:

  1. Opposing increased funding for the federal Department of Education. The U.S. Constitution does not give any spending or policy authority to the federal government over education.

  2. Returning spending and policy authority to states and local education agencies. Support passage of legislation like:
    • Dollars to the Classroom which combines programs, transforms them into a block grant and requires at least 95 percent of federal education funding to go directly to the classroom.
    • The Academic Achievement for All (Straight "A's") Act which provides block grant funds directly to the states in exchange for certain accountability standards set by the state.

  3. Amending the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). Return NAEP and NAGB to their original scope by:
    • Limiting the subject areas that can be tested.
    • Limiting the frequency of testing.
    • Allowing state and local educational agencies to opt not to participate in the regional NAEP.
    • Making participation in the state NAEP voluntary.
    • Requiring parental approval prior to testing any student.
    • Assuring that parents are members of NAGB.
    • Ending religious bias in test questions.

  4. Amending the Elementary Secondary Education Act. Support ESEA reforms that reduce the federal role in education including:
    • Returning spending decisions to the states in the form of block grants.
    • Exempting home schoolers from all education acts, not only the ESEA.
    • Exempting home schools from the Gun-Free School Zone mandates.
    • Prohibiting the field-testing, pilot testing, implementation, and development of a national test.
    • Eliminating the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and efforts to establish national teacher certification requirements.
    • Prohibiting national teacher certification by eliminating funds used to plan, develop, implement, or administer any mandatory national teacher test or mandatory method of certification or licensing.
    • Prohibiting the development of federal student performance standards by including language that says, "No state shall be required to have content standards or student performance standards approved or certified by the federal government, in order to receive assistance under this Act."
    • Prohibiting the Department of Education or any applicable program that may be used by the Department to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in an elementary or secondary school.

  5. Repealing portions of Goals 2000 still in the law. Including $53 million appropriated for:
    • Title I-National Education Goals
    • Title II-The National Goals Panel
    • Title IV-Parental Assistance
    • Title V-The National Skills Standards Board
    • Title VI-The International Education Exchange

  6. Opposing efforts to reauthorize the School-to-Work Program or eliminate safeguards in the Workforce Investment Act. Although STW was not reauthorized in the last Congress and received no funding, we oppose any efforts to create educational requirements that force students into studies based on workforce needs rather than academic excellence, and which promote any system that encourages employers to recognize skills mastery over academic excellence.

  7. Supporting legislation like the Teacher Empowerment Act. This legislation recognizes a state's sole authority to establish teacher qualification standards. It would effectively eliminate several federal education programs, and allow states flexibility in allocating funds for these teacher enhancement programs.

  8. Support legislation to audit the Department of Education. This legislation would require the DEd to conduct a thorough audit of programs and spending. The Department has failed to account for millions in spending on its 700+ programs.

Family & Religious Freedom Issues

Protect and defend family and religious freedom of home school families by:

  1. Passing the Children Tax ID Alternative Act. This legislation will allow families with religious objections to obtaining Social Security numbers for their children to submit alternative proof of identification in order to claim their dependent tax deduction and child tax credits.

  2. Passing a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. Support efforts to stop the expansion of legal rights for homosexuals and protect traditional marriage.

  3. Protecting Second Amendment freedoms in home schools. Amend Part F of Title XIV, Section 14602(b) to codify a letter from Attorney General Janet Reno to HSLDA that says that the Gun-Free School Zones provisions do not apply to home schools.

  4. Opposing Senate ratification of United Nations conventions and treaties that affect U.S. domestic policy on the family. This includes:
    • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    • The UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

  5. Opposing citizen tracking proposals through government regulation and policy. This includes opposing:
    • Efforts to expand the use of Social Security numbers for identification.
    • Efforts that expand access by private companies to government databases.
    • Efforts to monitor the private financial activities of citizens through their banks and financial institutions using regulations like "Know-Your-Customer Rules."
    • Efforts to monitor and track the immunization records of families through vaccine registries.
    • Efforts to track citizenship through the creation of any national identification card.

    In preparation for the 107th Congress, the National Center for Home Education hosted a pro-family strategy session at HSLDA's office in Purcellville, Virginia, on December 18, 2000. Organizations represented at the meeting included, among others, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, Christian Coalition, and American Association of Christian Schools.

    National Center Executive Director Doug Domenech (at center of photo) emphasized the importance of working together to promote family-friendly legislation and defeat anti-family measures in the upcoming congressional session. Many representatives from other organizations also addressed the group.

  6. Oppose executive orders that adversely affect the family. Monitor executive orders to be sure they do not adversely impact family freedom.

  7. Oppose the passage of any legislation that negatively affects religious freedom or free speech. Such as so-called hate "thought" crimes and campaign finance reform.

  8. Oppose IRS efforts to regulate or tax web-based speech. Oppose efforts by the IRS to regulate charities, tax-exempt organizations, and educational organizations based upon their use of the Internet. Such things as linking to other websites are activities being considered for regulation.

  9. Support changing labor regulation to allow exemptions for home schoolers to work during traditional school hours. Under current labor law, home school students cannot hold a job, even one inside the home or parent's business, during normal school hours. Furthermore, they are restricted on the number of hours they can work per week after school hours. These restrictions severely limit the ability of home school students to actively participate in hands-on apprenticeship activities that are central to their learning process.

  10. Support changing DoD regulations to open access to DoD schools for home schoolers overseas. Correct the inconsistent and confusing implementation of the congressional directive to Department of Defense schools instructing them to allow home school military families to use DoD classes to supplement their teaching. The Director of DoD issued instructions to the DoD schools that have been confusing and need to be addressed by Congress.

  11. Support efforts to protect children from Internet pornography. HSLDA supports efforts to block and screen inappropriate materials on the Internet.

Tax-related Issues

Promote family-friendly tax policies through:

  1. Eliminating the tax penalty on marriage. The current tax code penalizes married couples an average of $1,400 simply for filing as a couple. This discrimination should end.

  2. Reducing the federal tax burden on all families. Support across-the-board reductions for all income brackets.

  3. Increasing the per-child tax credit. Increase the federal per-child tax credit.

  4. Eliminate discrimination against large families in the tax code. Adjust or eliminate the Alternative Minimum tax and other measures that cap tax benefits on the basis of family size.

  5. Support efforts to pay off the national debt. HSLDA supports efforts to pay off the national debt. This debt represents taxation without representation to the children of this country.