A Look Back at This Year’s Federal Issues
One of Home School Legal Defense Association’s distinctives is that we equip ordinary homeschooling parents to be effective grassroots lobbyists. Legislators respect and respond to the hundreds of thousands of homeschoolers in America—including you—who care about your freedoms and are willing to speak out in defense of them, whether it’s through appealing to members of Congress in person, sending emails, or making phone calls.
WE CAN ONLY
WIN THE BATTLES
From the beginning, it has been part of our mission to protect homeschoolers across the nation from any federal control and to expand homeschoolers’ opportunities along with public awareness of homeschooling.
Why is it so important to oppose federal involvement in homeschooling?
To begin with, the Constitution does not give the federal government power over education; that power belongs to local and state governments. Additionally, federal involvement inevitably leads to federal control. If the federal government began mandating how parents could raise and educate their children, the very essence of homeschooling would be at stake. Lastly, homeschoolers are already regulated in many states—there is no need to add another layer of bureaucracy.
Significant Federal Issues of 2010
In early 2010, HSLDA’s D.C.-area Congressional Action Program (CAP) families (see sidebar) worked with our federal relations staff to lobby Congress about the Parental Rights Amendment. It has been a top priority for us to assist ParentalRights.org in educating members of Congress and their staff about why we need this amendment. In lobbying for it, we stress the looming danger to homeschoolers posed by U.S. courts relying on international law, the threat of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and how only the Parental Rights Amendment will fully protect against these threats.
Our CAP families also helped us keep federal control at bay during the potential reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). In order to communicate to Congress how important it was that homeschoolers be specifically exempted from any federal control in the reauthorization, HSLDA held several lobbying days for distributing information at the Capitol. Thanks to the hard work of our local CAP families, Congress has made no attempt to try to weaken the language that already exists in federal law which protects homeschoolers from any federal regulation. We will continue to educate Congress on this issue as they again attempt to reauthorize ESEA in the 112th Congress.
HSLDA was active behind the scenes to protect homeschoolers from possible regulation in a 2010 House bill, the Seclusion and Restraint Act. This bill prohibits schools from using abusive restraining techniques on students, and was written in such a way that it could have applied to homeschool parents who use corporal discipline. Members on both sides of the aisle quickly grasped HSLDA’s concerns on behalf of homeschooling families, and included an amendment making it clear that homeschoolers were not covered by the bill. We are watching to make sure that the Senate includes this amendment if it takes up the bill before the end of the 111th Congress.
In addition, homeschoolers were involved in many other battles to protect homeschool freedom during 2010. HSLDA encouraged our members to actively oppose the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court because of her strong stated positions in favor of international law—much of which is hostile to homeschool freedom and parental rights. We also worked to oppose the DISCLOSE Act, which we believe would have threatened the freedom of organizations such as HSLDA to inform our members and the public about the views held by politicians. While we were not successful in halting Justice Kagan's confirmation, we were able to help stop the DISCLOSE Act.
Thank you for your membership and your support of HSLDA! As we enter the 112th Congress that officially starts in January, we appreciate that, despite your busy schedules as homeschoolers, you continue to make phone calls to elected officials when you receive one of our e-lerts in your inbox. We can only win the battles for homeschool freedom with your teamwork. And if you live in the D.C. area and want to become a CAP volunteer, please call 540-338-5600 and ask for the federal relations department, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, we can continue to defend and advance homeschool freedom for today’s families and for generations to come.