Working Together to Protect Freedom
Now that the holidays are behind us, Home School Legal Defense Association’s Federal Relations staff is gearing up for the second and final session of the 110th Congress.
HSLDA/Art CoxWill Estrada and HSLDA’s Federal Relations staff keep a close watch on bills related to homeschool freedom.
THE YEAR STARTED WITH
EFFORTS TO DEFEAT
ATTEMPT TO REGULATE
In 2007, HSLDA continued to defend the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children and worked on several major pieces of legislation. The year started with efforts to defeat a congressional attempt to regulate “grassroots lobbying,” which is the technical term for what happens when HSLDA sends an email “e-lert” to our members asking you to contact your elected officials in support of or in opposition to a particular bill. Thanks to the calls and letters from you and many other concerned citizens opposing this dangerous legislation, all attempts to regulate grassroots lobbying failed.
Next, HSLDA fought to add several legislative fixes to current law to further benefit homeschoolers. One of these fixes was included in the Senate’s reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and would make homeschool graduates eligible for the Byrd scholarship, which provides federal financial aid to college students. HSLDA is still lobbying members of the House of Representatives to include this language in the House’s version of the reauthorization.
HSLDA also continued to lobby Congress as they prepared to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
HSLDA does not support NCLB because it is a massive encroachment of the federal government on the state and local governments’ authority over education. However, in 2001, Congress put language into NCLB to ensure that the federal, state, and local governments would not interfere with homeschoolers or with private or religious schools. Additional language protects against a nationalized test, nationalized curriculum, nationalized teacher certification, and a national database of student-specific information.
HSLDA Federal Relations staff initiated dozens of meetings on NCLB with congressional members and staffers starting in the summer of 2006 and continuing through 2007. On August 28, 2007, HSLDA, the American Association of Christian Schools, and the Association of Christian Schools International held a joint briefing on NCLB for numerous congressional staffers as well as education staffers from other organizations in Washington, D.C.
These meetings and briefings resulted in an initial victory as the House Committee on Education and Labor released a bipartisan discussion draft of the NCLB reauthorization in September 2007. The discussion draft left unchanged all of the protections for homeschools, private schools, and religious schools, as well as the additional protections, in the original bill. While it is heartening to see bipartisan support for this language, HSLDA remains focused on ensuring that the protective language remains in the final bill passed by Congress. HSLDA is also working to oppose many new provisions in the discussion draft that would further increase the federal government’s role in education.
For updates on federal legislation, including updates on the reauthorization of NCLB, and to see the language that protects homeschool and private-school families, please visit the HSLDA Federal Relations Department’s homepage and look under “Federal Legislation.”
|About the author
Will Estrada is HSLDA’s director of federal relations.