The Home School Court Report
- disclaimer -
March / April 2004

State Legislation Summary—2003
Battleground New Jersey

Late-breaking news

Congress investigates

With the help of others
College sports: Game on For Homeschoolers

What is the NCAA?

Sports organizations
Generation Joshua vision

Election realities

Generation Joshua leadership

Getting involved
Eliminating anonymous tips

Freedom watch
From the heart

From the director:In the armsof amazing love

Impact of the HSF General Fund

Mission Statement of HSF
Across the states
Active cases
Members only
About campus

Elite education: Hope for our national crisis

SAT score comparisons
President's page


HSLDA social services contact policy/A plethora of forms

HSLDA legal inquiries

Prayer & Praise




Election year: The best or worst of times?

Presidential election years, from the perspective of an advocacy group like Home School Legal Defense Association, can be the best or worst of times. Generally they are the best. Politicians up for reelection prefer to say what they'd like to accomplish rather than actually follow through with new laws.

Accordingly, major public policy decisions are often "saved" until after the election—which is a nice thing when most of your work is preventative in nature.

The game works something like this: For nearly every public policy decision, there are political winners and losers. Congressmen are keenly aware of how these wins and losses affect their own campaigns. When votes are proposed on a particular subject, a parade of congressmen begs the House and Senate leadership, "Please do not make me vote on this issue—it could cost me my seat." Most of the time, this mass intervention kills the bill, or at least sparks a drastic compromise that renders the issue devoid of substance. For instance, rather than allowing drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—a highly controversial issue—a study on drilling might instead be suggested. Such a compromise is intended to shore up support from drilling proponents, without rattling the cages of drilling opponents. In an election year, everybody running for office knows that there is little time to recover from a politically bad vote.

But this is only a general rule. If the polls seem to swing wildly away from pundits' predictions, as in the case of an incumbent majority appearing to be in jeopardy of losing its position of power, desperation will set in. In this climate, bills are drawn up quickly and rapidly advanced. Congressmen often vote on legislation they have yet to see, let alone examine and modify. In such times, advocacy groups must increase their guard, making sure that the rights and concerns of their members are not accidentally or intentionally trampled upon.

When legislation flies thick and furiously, relationships are key. Often it is only through a friend in a high place that actual legislative language can be determined and modified before the vote occurs.

Fortunately, HSLDA has developed relationships through the years with numerous congressional members and staff. Some are personal friendships brought by former Capitol Hill staffers, such as HSLDA's National Center for Home Education Director Tom Washburne and Media Relations Director Ian Slatter. Some are newer contacts growing out of hundreds of meetings on the Hill attended by National Center Manager of Federal Policy and Research Caleb Kershner. Other relationships have arisen through the increasing number of homeschoolers working on the Hill. Equally important, there are still others who work with us simply because they also care deeply about issues affecting home education.

This year promises to be exciting. The Higher Education Act (HEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are up for reauthorization. It seems likely that we will see language from the Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act (HONDA) incorporated into these bills. The passage of these provisions will lead to some necessary changes to the unfair way these programs treat homeschoolers. Other HONDA provisions, such as the changes to privacy law to protect homeschoolers' records that happen to be held by the public schools, may also be advanced. More importantly, HSLDA will continue to monitor bills moving through Congress to ensure homeschool freedom. We thank our members in advance for developing key relationships with legislators' home office staffs and standing ready to call their federal representatives should the need arise.

For more information on the federal issues HSLDA's National Center for Home Education is tracking, visit The National Center for Home Education.