Home School Legal Defense Association's National Center for Home Education was involved with a number of federal legislative issues as the first year of the 107th Congress wound to a close.
H.R. 1 / S. 1: The education bill
The National Center's primary focus was on the main education bill, House Resolution 1 (and its counterpart, Senate bill 1). While issues involving funding, vouchers and local control of public education dominated major media coverage of this bill, some key provisions concerning home education were quietly included.
Most significant to home educators, the final version of H. R. 1 / S. 1 is expected (at press time) to include a provision that protects them from the mandatory use of "any test referenced in this act." This language would shield home schoolers from being forced to take state tests. In the year 2001 alone, five states attempted to impose their public school state assessments on home schoolers.
Other positive protections in H. R. 1 / S. 1 include prohibitions of a national database of citizens, a national curriculum, and a national test. The measure completely repeals Goals 2000 and reaffirms that home education is protected from federal control, as indicated in the following bill language:
Nothing in this Act or any other Act administered by the Secretary shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any Federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school under State law.
About the author|
HSLDA's new Director of Media Relations Robert Ziegler was previously legislative director for U.S. Representative Jeff Flake (AZ). Prior to that, Rob served as a legislative aide and speechwriter for U.S Representative John Hostettler (IN), and as communications director for Hostettler's 1994 House campaign.
Rob received his B.A. in Communications from the University of Toledo. He has also worked as a reporter
at daily newspapers in Ohio and Indiana, and as director of conferences and special projects at a large Southern California church. He and his wife, Lucille, home school their four children in Alexandria, Virginia.
HSLDA extends a warm welcome!
Economic stimulus package
One major item of contention late in the year on Capitol Hill was the economic stimulus package crafted in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the resulting economic downturn. National Center staff expressed support for a number of provisions that benefit families, including an accelerated reduction of the 28-percent income tax bracket to 25-percent and removal of the five-year holding rule for capital gains. This follows a broad tax relief package, which included increased per-child tax credits and marginal rate reduction, when President Bush signed that package into law earlier in the year.
Equal access for military families
The National Center also has been working to gain equal access to on-post facilities overseas for home schooled children of military families. In some countries, military families find Department of Defense schools the only option for their children to participate in activities like music and sports, but DOD policy concerning use of these facilities has discriminated against home schooling families. At HSLDA's request, U.S.
Representative John Hostettler of Indiana introduced H.R. 830, a bill to amend the defense department's policy to "allow home school students who are eligible for enrollment in a school of the overseas defense dependents' education system to use auxiliary services of such schools." At press time, conference committee participants had accepted this language and the measure was widely expected to become law.
HSLDA testifies at CAPTA hearing
At the House Committee on Education and the Workforce's Oct. 16 hearing on the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka urged Congress to encourage states to protect families from overzealous child welfare workers.
He noted several areas where child welfare laws could be made more family-friendly. The law could curtail agencies' overuse of anonymous tips and increase the penalty for false reporting. It could also require Fourth Amendment probable cause standards to be enforced on child welfare workers if states are to receive funding (that is, workers would have to have a court warrant before they could enter a home without consent of the parents). Finally, he recommended the law require that individuals subject to investigation be informed of their Fourth Amendment rights.
For more information on these and other federal issues, visit the National Center for Home Education's website at http://nche.hslda.org.