The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXII
No. 4
Cover
July/August
2006

In This Issue

SPECIALFEATURES
REGULARCOLUMNS
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Legislative Summit 2006

On March 28-30, 2006, the National Center for Home Education, a division of Home School Legal Defense Association, hosted its fourth National Homeschool Leadership and Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., with the primary goal of advancing homeschool freedom at the federal level. Sixty-four state homeschool leaders from 35 states met to lobby members of the United States Congress and hear from senators and representatives.

The summit hosted four senators, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (TN) and Senate Values Action Team Chairman Sam Brownback (KS), as well as nine representatives, including House Values Action Team Chairman Joe Pitts (PA-16) and Representative Mike Pence (IN-6). Hearing directly from elected leaders inspired summit attendees with a fresh vision for Washington leadership that supports and protects parental freedom. Attendees were also briefed by representatives from the executive branch.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (TN) emphasizes his support for parents’ right to homeschool.

Affirming the centrality of parental choice in education, Senator Frist stated, “Homeschooled children deserve the same treatment as their public and private school peers, and the Home School Legal Defense Association is an outstanding advocate for homeschool families across America. Parents and families should have the freedom and the choice to educate their children as they see fit, and HSLDA does outstanding work in helping make America a better place to raise our children.”

Congressman Geoff Davis (KY-4), whose campaign was aided by homeschooled teens through HSLDA’s Generation Joshua program, emphasized the importance of involvement in the political process.

“It’s always a pleasure for me to visit with homeschoolers from around the country and to meet with the Home School Legal Defense Association,” said Davis. “My wife Pat and I have homeschooled our children for many years, and we are particularly appreciative of your efforts to teach children how to be productive citizens and what good citizenship means. Your involvement in the political process is essential, and you have done a wonderful job advocating for the issues we all care about.”

Invited Speakers

Sen. Sam Brownback (KS)
Sen. Tom Coburn (OK)
Sen. Larry Craig (ID)
Sen. Bill Frist, Majority Leader (TN)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6)
Rep. Geoff Davis (KY-4)
Rep. Mark Green (WI-8)
Rep. Bobby Jindal (LA-1)
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (CO-4)
Rep. Mike Pence (IN-6)
Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16)
Rep. Mike Sodrel (IN-9)
Rep. Mark Souder (IN-3)

Tim Goeglein, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison

Jenny Korn, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison

Jim Towey, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

Tevi Troy, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy

At the legislative briefing on Thursday, March 30, HSLDA's National Center honored Senator Larry Craig (ID) and Representative Marilyn Musgrave (CO-4) with its 109th Congress Friend of Homeschooling Award for their sponsorship of the Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act (HONDA). HSLDA helped draft HONDA to correct the problems that result when homeschoolers get caught in the net of federal regulations designed solely for brick-and-mortar public and private schools. HSLDA firmly believes that under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has no role in education since education policy is reserved to state and local governments via the 10th Amendment. Unfortunately, in the modern world, the federal government is intimately involved with all aspects of education policy, requiring homeschoolers to carefully protect their rights.

Seantor Sam Brownback (KS), center, with Iowa leaders Justin LeVan and Rich and Barb Heki.

While previous legislation has addressed issues such as fair treatment for homeschooled military recruits, ending harassment of families under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, stopping discrimination in the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program, and clarifying that colleges won’t lose their federal funding by accepting homeschooled students, HONDA responds to areas of ongoing discrimination. These include homeschool access to Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, privacy protection for homeschoolers’ publicly held educational records, and clarification of labor laws to allow homeschooled students to work during the day.

At the beginning of the summit, each leader was given a packet of information and research on homeschooling to facilitate their personal visits to their state’s federal elected officials. Since a significant percentage of the 535 members of Congress have little formal experience with homeschoolers, the summit provides an opportunity to introduce legislators to homeschooling issues, such as HONDA. Summit attendees met face to face with congressmen, lobbying them to support equal treatment for homeschoolers.

HSLDA’s National Center is pleased to report that since the summit, four senators—Mel Martinez (FL), Mike Crapo (ID), John Ensign (NV), and George Allen (VA) —and eight representatives—Cliff Stearns (FL-6), Tom Latham (IA-4), Harold Rogers (KY-5), Bobby Jindal (LA-1), Vernon Ehlers (MI-3), Roger Wicker (MS-1), Chip Pickering (MS-3), and Barbara Cubin (WY-at Large)-have been added to HONDA’s list of 10 co-sponsors in the Senate and 82 co-sponsors in the House. For the most current co-sponsor list and HONDA legislative status, visit www.hslda.org/honda.

During the summit’s legislative briefing, HSLDA Chairman and General Counsel Michael Farris outlined the upcoming battle for parental rights and his proposal to amend the Constitution to protect these rights. Because parental rights are not explicitly protected in the Constitution, if the United States ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or our court system begins imposing it on our country, our right to homeschool will be placed in jeopardy. Homeschoolers must act now in order to prevent this potentially crushing blow to parental liberty. (See the March/April 2006 Court Report for more information about HSLDA’s efforts to pass a parental rights amendment to the Constitution.)

The 2006 summit clearly demonstrated how the partnership between HSLDA’s National Center for Home Education, state organizations, and government leaders can advance the cause of homeschooling. Thank you to all who attended, and to those throughout America who are working hard to support homeschooling freedom!

Sen. Sam Brownback (KS) Sen. Tom Coburn (OK) Sen. Larry Craig (ID) Sen. Bill Frist, Majority Leader (TN) Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6) Rep. Geoff Davis (KY-4) Rep. Mark Green (WI-8) Rep. Bobby Jindal (LA-1) Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (CO-4) Rep. Mike Pence (IN-6) Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16) Rep. Mike Sodrel (IN-9) Rep. Mark Souder (IN-3) Tim Goeglein, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison Jenny Korn, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison Jim Towey, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Tevi Troy, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy