Home School Court Report
Current Issue | Archives | Advertising | About | Search
No. 4

In This Issue

Freedom Watch Previous Page Next Page
by Will Estrada
- disclaimer -
Leaders Attend HSLDA Summit

Eighty-three homeschool leaders arrived in the Washington, D.C., area for three days this March to attend HSLDA’s 2010 National Homeschool Leader Summit. The leaders represented homeschool organizations from 37 states and Puerto Rico. Held every two years, the summit gives homeschool leaders the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress, share about homeschooling's effectiveness, and remind their representatives and senators that homeschoolers want to be left alone by the federal government.

The previous summit, in March 2008, occurred during the uproar over the California Court of Appeals decision that essentially banned homeschooling under the state’s private school option (a decision later reversed by the court). The homeschool leaders were lobbying on Capitol Hill in the thick of the congressional action to condemn the initial California ruling. This year’s summit took place during the hectic last week of the health care reform bill debate. Again, the homeschool leaders were in the right place at the right time.

Arriving at HSLDA’s national office in Purcellville, Virginia, on Wednesday afternoon, March 17, summit attendees were welcomed by HSLDA President Mike Smith. Chairman of the Board Michael Farris gave an update on the Parental Rights Amendment, and a legislative briefing highlighted the next day’s lobbying issues.

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence
HSLDA/Scott Woodruff
U.S. Representative Mike Pence challenges homeschool leaders to continue the fight for what is right.


The next morning, HSLDA staff accompanied the homeschool leaders to Washington, D.C., for briefings from members of Congress prior to heading off to lobby on homeschool issues. Numerous congressmen and women had altered their busy schedules to address the homeschool leaders and meet with them personally. It was an encouraging reminder that there are still men and women in our government who respect the Constitution and recognize that they are in D.C. to serve those who elected them.

The first speaker of the day was Representative Jim Jordan from Ohio. He described some of the work that members of Congress are doing for their constituents and shared that, as a homeschooling dad himself, the hardest thing about his job is being away from his family.

Rep. Jordan was followed by Rep. Randy Forbes from Virginia, the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. Rep. Forbes spoke about the incredible power of prayer in the lives of members of Congress. He reminded the attendees that all of life’s blessings come from God, not the government, and that it is dangerous for the government to try to give all things to all people.

Rep. John Fleming from Louisiana highlighted concerns about home visitation in the health care reform bill. “We need to be concerned about government intrusion into homes,” he said. “Anytime government gives you something, government can take it away.”

Staff member join homeschool leaders.
HSLDA/Scott Woodruff
Enjoying Thursday evening's banquet, Jeffry Lewis (center) of Illinois Christian Home Educators visits with HSLDA Director of Federal Relations Will Estrada and Senior Legal Assistant Leah Dobler.


Rep. Geoff Davis from Kentucky, another homeschooling dad, shared from his heart about the huge impact that homeschooling parents have on the lives of their children. He thanked the homeschool leaders for their hard work and encouraged them not to quit despite hard times. The leaders next heard Rep. John Kline from Minnesota, who is the Ranking Republican Member of the House Education and Labor Committee. In this powerful position, he has been a stalwart defender of homeschool freedom and limiting the federal role in education. He discussed the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and reminded homeschoolers nationwide that they need to be on the alert to protect homeschool liberty from federal control. As he finished, he mentioned his service in the U.S. Marine Corps, and urged the homeschool leaders to boldly “charge up Capitol Hill with the message of homeschool freedom.”

Next to speak was Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota. She was on the phone in a last-minute discussion regarding the health care reform bill as she arrived, but she immediately energized the homeschool leaders as she shared about her work as a homeschool mom and member of Congress. She said the health care reform bill represented a dangerous trend of the federal government to try to take over every area of life.

Ohio’s Representative Jean Schmidt exhorted the homeschool leaders to be ready for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization and possible erosions of homeschool freedom in that bill.

Rep. Todd Akin from Missouri shared his experiences as a member of Congress and a homeschooling dad, and thanked the homeschool leaders for their service to our nation.

Lora Burbage of Hawaii
HSLDA/Scott Woodruff
HSLDA's National Homeschool Leader Summit allows state leaders, such as Lora Burbage of Christian Home Educators of Hawaii, to share information and address legislative trends that may be springing up around the country.

The final speaker was the Republican Conference Chairman, Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana. He said that despite great concern about the future of our nation, he was optimistic—as long as there is a generation of young people who value liberty, there is hope for our nation. He challenged the attendees to continue to fight boldly for what is right.

Motivated by these inspiring friends on Capitol Hill, the homeschool leaders left for meetings with senators, representatives, and their staff. Summit attendees had over 100 scheduled meetings, and some even met directly with their members of Congress in unscheduled meetings in offices, elevators, and hallways.

The leaders’ message to each legislator was the same: leave homeschools alone and don’t discriminate against homeschool graduates. They handed out hundreds of information packets explaining why homeschooling should be free from federal control.

That evening, the homeschool leaders attended a banquet at Patrick Henry College. On Friday, many returned to Capitol Hill for additional lobbying visits.

HSLDA is extremely grateful to the 83 homeschool leaders who took three days out of their busy sche-dules to lobby Congress. It is because of these homeschool leaders—and the homeschool associations across the 50 states—that homeschoolers are able to work together to protect freedom.