|| NATIONAL CENTER REPORTS
The Home School Non-Discrimination Act (HONDA)
On July 15, 2003, Congesswoman Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado introduced the Home School Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 2732), also known as HONDA, in the United States House of Representatives. The Senate version, S. 1562, was introduced on August 1 by Senator Larry Craig of Idaho.
HONDA clarifies how federal laws should be applied to homeschooling to preserve the constitutional rights of parents. Home School Legal Defense Association has worked for several months with homeschooling supporters on Capitol Hill to consolidate in this one bill a number of federal issues affecting homeschoolers.
"Our Constitution does not allow federal control over homeschooling, but there have been many federal laws written for the public school environment that inadvertently impact home education," explains HSLDA President Mike Smith. "These laws are in need of clarification."
HONDA fixes several oversights in federal law related to homeschooling.
|>>||HONDA will clear up confusion over whether colleges can accept homeschool graduates who are younger than the state mandated compulsory attendance age.|
|>>||HONDA will clarify that local school officials are not required to investigate homeschooling families with special needs children if those homeschoolers are not receiving federal IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) funds. (See "Active Cases: Family of N v. Social Security Administration (MI)" for a current court battle HSLDA is fighting over this issue.)|
|>>||HONDA will repair existing Education Savings Accountsto allow the participation of homeschoolers. Currently this is only permitted in those few states where homeschools are considered private schools by state law.|
|>>||HONDA will give privacy protection to homeschoolers' records held by public schools.|
|>>||HONDA will ease restrictive labor laws for homeschoolers between the ages of 14 and 16 by extending permissible periods of employment. Currently, homeschooled students cannot work during normal school hours.|
|>>||HONDA will establish homeschool eligibility for Byrd scholarships.|
In working with members of Congress and staffers to craft bill language, HSLDA emphasized the importance of linking references to homeschooling with state law to avoid any possible new federal regulations concerning homeschooling. We also ensured that the bill's language applies to states where homeschools are considered "private schools."
"We fully support HONDA," says Tom Washburne, director of HSLDA's National Center for Home Education. "Homeschooling is here to stay and it is time that federal law came up to speed."
Please call your federal legislators and ask them to cosponsor HONDA.
Amendment to Head Start protects homeschoolers
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the School Readiness Act (H.R. 2210) on July 23, 2003. This "early education" legislation includes an important provision protecting parents' rights. Drafted by the Home School Legal Defense Association, the provision specifically states:
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require a State to establish a program of early education for children in the State, to require any child to participate in a program of early education, to attend school, or to participate in any initial screening. . . .
HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka believes that "this provision can be used to stop attempts by the state legislatures to lower the compulsory attendance age to 4 or 3."
Recent attempts to lower the compulsory attendance age in several states and the District of Columbia demonstrate the need for this legislation. Because H.R. 2210 grants federal funds, states will be less likely to disregard its provisions.
"When state legislatures hear their legislation may endanger their federal funds, they will often simply allow the legislation to die," says Klicka.
HSLDA's provision also prohibits funds in this Act from being used to require students to attend early education programs like Head Start, or to force student assessments or screening.
H.R. 2210 now heads for the U.S. Senate where the provision is expected to be retained.
HSLDA thanks Congressman John Boehner, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and his committee staff for their leadership in passing this amendment.
John & Abigail Adams Fellowship
The John & Abigail Adams Fellowship Program was established in 2002 to encourage promising upper-level college students to pursue research that will benefit home education and to establish a long-term relationship with these students as they graduate and enter professional fields.
The John & Abigail Adams Fellows for 2003 are Heather Conder and Joel Campbell. Heather graduates from Regent University School of Law in December 2003. She will research why states are trying to include homeschoolers in the mandatory state testing required under the No Child Left Behind Act and how homeschoolers can protect themselves from this erroneous inclusion. Joel Campbell, a graduate student at Oakbrook College of Law in Fresno, California, will earn his Juris Doctorate in 2004. Joel's research explores the historical framework of parental control over education, examines the modern-day attacks on parental rights, and establishes a strategy for defending parental rights against the encroachments of the state.
For more information, go to www.adamsfellowship.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.