|| A WORD FROM MIKE SMITH
Preserving freedom while launching new leaders
As we wrap up Home School Legal Defense Association's 20th anniversary year, I want to review our core mission and share with you a new direction in which we are moving.
|J. Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association|
Since 1983, HSLDA's primary purpose has been to preserve the freedom to homeschool. We believe this freedom is based upon fundamental God-given (not government-granted) rights set forth in America's founding documents: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Relying upon two constitutional amendments-the 4th Amendment's Liberty Clause and the 1st Amendment's Free Exercise Clause-the United States Supreme Court has several times recognized the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
HSLDA has fought to establish and preserve this freedom in the battlefield of courts and legislatures. We've sought to work hand-in-hand with state and local support group leaders and homeschooling families across the nation. And God has blessed our combined efforts. Today, every state recognizes in some way the freedom of parents or guardians to educate their children at home. Over 30 states actually recognize homeschooling in some form as an exemption from public school attendance.
Experience taught us the truth of the well-worn axiom: "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." Through your help, HSLDA continues to monitor all 50 states for any legislation that might impact home education, making sure we don't lose any hard-won ground. When we spot a piece of legislation that attempts to roll back our freedoms, we organize opposition, and with very few exceptions, we have successfully maintained those freedoms.
But it has become obvious that this defensive approach is no longer sufficient. As our culture continues its downward slide, critical battles are intensifying in the legislatures and courts. In these arenas, where judges are selected, laws passed, and statutes interpreted, the freedom to homeschool will be increasingly tested.
In order to preserve our freedom in the face of these challenges, HSLDA's board has determined that we need to be more proactive in the public policy arena. A good defense is simply not enough to preserve our freedom in the future-we need a good offense as well.
During a speech at the 2002 National Homeschool Leadership Conference, HSLDA Board Chairman Mike Farris described the current generation of homeschooling parents as the "Moses generation"-those who have left Egypt (a symbol of bondage) and have broken loose from the grip of government schools to educate our children.
He described the next generation of homeschoolers, our children, as the "Joshua generation"-those who must claim the land (a symbol of freedom). Their task demands that they be leaders. As their parents, you have established the foundation for the Joshua generation to advance and preserve liberty. Now is the time for them to move forward.
HSLDA's goal is to be more active in the determination of who ends up leading our nation in the political realm. We desire to work with parents to give our young people a vision for a nation with moral and right-thinking leadership, and a vehicle for them to be actively involved in that process.
I want to assure you, our faithful and loyal member families, that this new emphasis on participation in public policy to preserve our freedoms will in no way lessen our commitment to provide a quality legal defense for each of our members. HSLDA's legal team will fight to defend our constitutional right to direct the education of our children with the same zeal we've had from the beginning. We've simply added a second prong to our goal of protecting homeschool freedoms. It's our belief that by becoming more proactive, we will be more effective in serving our members and the homeschool community. As more details become available, we will be informing you how you can participate.
HSLDA will continue fighting hard to preserve our existing freedom to homeschool and other freedoms fundamental to parents. But we must also move forward, exploring opportunities that give "feet" to the dream that our children will become the leaders of the future in our great nation.