HR 5 update: School Improvement Act of 1987
Homeschoolers throughout the nation have been organizing recently to oppose aspects of the School Improvement Act of 1987 which could adversely affect homeschoolers. The bill is lengthy, providing federal dollars for a variety of different programs including dropout prevention, drug education, and programs for educationally deprived and handicapped children. The primary area of concern among homeschoolers centers around the definition of “dropout” and the possibility that the definition could permit homeschoolers to be counted as dropouts and targeted with dropout prevention programs. The House version of the bill defined “dropout” only as “an individual aged five through eighteen who is not attending any school and who has not received a secondary school diploma or a certificate from a program of equivalency for such a diploma” (§ 5141[b]). Because homeschools in most states are not technically considered “schools,” homeschoolers could fall within this definition.
The bill passed both the House and the Senate late last year, with only one opposing vote in each house. It is now on its way to the joint conference committee, where the differences between the two versions will be reconciled. HSLDA has been in contact with both the House and the Senate education committees who are overseeing the bill to propose changes which would clarify the status of homeschoolers. Once the bill is in conference (as of early February, the House had not yet chosen its conferencees), it will take a few weeks for the changes to be made, after which the bill will return to both houses for a final vote, probably sometime in March. HSLDA is working to get changes made in the bill while it is in conference, either through an amendment or simply suggesting some clarifications in the definitions.