Great News for NBPTS Opponents!
Funding for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was defeated along with the entire Excellence in Education Bill (S.695 and H.R.5115) at 2:15 a.m. Saturday, October 27, 1990, just before the close of the 101st Session.
Senator Malcolm Wallop [R-WY] along with several other Republican senators stood against the bill and were instrumental in achieving its defeat. Mr. Wallop's major objections focused on the funding for NBPTS and a small section of the bill which would have given states more freedom in spending tax dollars on public education — this included allowing for abortion counseling in the schools.
Senator Jesse Helms has worked diligently on this cause since the item first arose a year ago. He has truly “carried the water” for all conservatives in this matter, and we're delighted to see him return to Congress for his fourth term.
Crime Bill Definitions Changed to Favor Families
The Omnibus Crime Bill (S.1970 and H.R.5269), containing the Reid Child Abuse Amendment, passed both the House and the Senate on Saturday, October 27, 1990.
After a meeting with several pro-family and education organizations on September 17, 1990, Senator Reid [D-NV] proved to be sympathetic to parental goals. He committed himself to rectifying the offending or ambiguous language, and we are happy to report that the version of the Child Abuse Amendment passed by Congress contained the suggested alterations.
The National Center will continue to monitor the possible influences of the child abuse amendment on home schooling as we work with various pro-family coalitions in Washington, D.C.
Bad News on Babysitting!
The federal government is spending billions of dollars to play the role of “mother” to the nation's children. The federal “daycare” bill, otherwise known as the ABC Childcare Bill (H.R.3 and S.5), was passed as part of the Deficit-Reduction Bill (H.R.5835), which Congress approved during the final hours of the 101st Session. The Heritage Foundation summarized the net gains and losses affecting the American people through this frightening $25 billion measure:
- Net “Gains” (Conservative Victories in the Legislation)
- Over 75 percent of the funding took the form of tax credits that did not discriminate against traditional families.
- The refundable dependent care tax credit which discriminates against traditional families was blocked.
- Of the non-tax credit funds, about one half must be in the form of vouchers.
- Parents have the right to use vouchers with a wide variety of providers including relatives and churches.
- There is a significant gain in church/state relations: parents have the explicit right to use vouchers in daycare programs that include worship and religious instruction. No state government may prohibit such use.
- The bill contained for the first time a small tax credit exclusively for traditional families who care for their own children in the home: the "Wee Tots" credit for children under age one.
- The most recent version of the ABC bill contained a new, separate program for daycare in the public school, sponsored by the NEA. This program was blocked; overall, the bill is a major loss for the NEA.
- There will be no new federal regulation of daycare and no National Commission on Daycare.
A last minute colloquy between Senators Dodd and Dole put into place the provision that churches have the right to determine the beliefs of their workers, effectively overriding all hiring stipulations in the bill. The colloquy was not read on the floor but was simply inserted into the Congressional Record, which probably explains the miracle that it remained intact. According to the Heritage Foundation, at least half of the funds appropriated in the childcare bill are thus usable in churches and Christian schools without jeopardizing their distinctives. Of course, this observation would have to be balanced with the rationale offered by those who argue that no government funding comes without strings of some kind attached.
- The bill contains $1 billion per year in daycare programs, half of which is not voucherized.
- Because of the above daycare spending, the overall bill is biased against traditional families.
- There are a number of ambiguities in the bill which could make it difficult for parents to use the vouchers, or for churches to receive vouchers. The White House has promised that these problems will be fixed in regulations. Those who are concerned about using this funding would have to insure that the problems are indeed “fixed.”
The overall impact of the package discourages low income families from caring for their own children. In effect, the bill provides a real government “foot in the door” with very little tax reduction for families. Only the very limited “Wee Tot” provision could be interpreted as pro-family, but it is highly precedential and will have to survive some legal challenges before being applied.
Many conservatives have expressed severe criticism of the White House for allowing this major piece of legislation to be swallowed up in the budget reconciliation controversy. Their view is that this tactic effectively eliminated any real ability to negotiate aspects of the bill which seriously concern the American citizenry.
The bottom line as we see it is that the federal government shouldn't be paying for anyone's childcare bill. It would be far better to return the money to the taxpayer's pockets in the form of much larger exemptions for each dependent so that parents will be truly free to make the choices they need and pay for them.
USA Today Features Home Schooling in “Face-Off”
On October 22, 1990, USA Today's “Face-Off” column featured the topic of home education. Under the banner, “Teaching Children At Home,” guest columnists from both sides of the issue had the opportunity to express their views.
Howard Carlisle, principal of Central High School in Philadelphia for 14 years and currently working with The College Board, expressed the opinions of public educators, many of whom feel threatened by the home-schooling trend. The theme of his article, expressed in doubt-filled questioning, was denial that parents are qualified to teach their children academically or gifted enough to offer them enrichment activities. Citing these perceived deficiencies in addition to cautioning that socialization and maturation cannot “develop in children and young adults unless they are associated every day with their peers,” Mr. Carlisle asks, “How can they [the children] ever be able to interact with the infinite variety of people and cultures in the USA without frequent contact with all of the racial, religious and ethnic groups in the country?”
His concluding statements are particularly revealing of his philosophical presuppositions as he communicates his understanding of “democratic,” and his uncompromising position of opposition toward the option of home education: “Home schooling in this context negated the meaning of a democratic society. Stricter state controls on home schooling are not the answer. Home schooling should not be permitted to proliferate except perhaps in extreme special cases involving seriously ill children. Home schooling is narrow, isolating, anti-cultural, undemocratic and artificial.”
Christopher J. Klicka, Senior Counsel for Home School Legal Defense Association, presented the proponent's viewpoint. His article clearly explained what home schooling means and addressed the reasons parents choose to home school, their concern for their children's education, and the success they are enjoying. He went on to point out that in spite of their success, “home schoolers are…constantly subjected to harassment by their competitors, the public schools, which arbitrarily use truancy and educational neglect laws in an attempt to shut them down. In addition, most major public-school teacher and administrator associations push for laws to require these parents to be certified and accredited. The real issue has not been the education of the children, but control.”
The most frequently expressed concern when home schooling is discussed is the child's limited amount of socialization. Addressing this concern, Mr. Klicka referred to studies revealing the high self-esteem demonstrated by home-schooling children, which is “the best measurement of determining the quality of socialization of a child.” He then listed the harmful aspects of socialization which society has accepted as normal: drugs, sexual diseases and violence found in the public school.
In his conclusion, Mr. Klicka positively reinforced the home-schooling position while effectively directing public school educators back to their immediate and desperate responsibility: “Home schooling works, and it is operating successfully in many states with little or no regulation. Let us not interfere with the successful home schoolers but instead focus on reforming our ailing public school system.”
What's Happened to the PTA?
HSLDA has learned that several PTA County Councils are attempting to pass resolutions to influence the Ohio State Board of Education to require unannounced semi-annual home visits of home schoolers. The proposed resolution from the Lake County Council, District 17, reads as follows:
WHEREAS, One of PTA's Objects is to secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in education, and
WHEREAS, Home-schooling students may not be receiving these advantages, and
WHEREAS, Home-schooling situations need monitoring to ensure that state requirements are being met; therefore be it,
RESOLVED, That the Ohio PTA through its units and councils, urges the Ohio State Board of Education to require unannounced semi-annual observation of home-schooling students by the local district attendance office or other available school personnel for the first two years a student is taught in a home-schooling situation.
The “Rationale” statement given with the resolution adds these thoughts:
G. Robert Bowers, Former Ohio Assistant Superintendent for Elementary and Secondary Education, estimated in 1988 that about 2,000 Children throughout Ohio were in home study. For 1990 this estimate has been raised to 6,000.
Due to low state standards for home-schooling instructors and non-existent standards for home-schooling curricula (HB 217), the home-schooling situation needs to be monitored. The National Association of State Boards of Education recommends that two years of quarterly reporting be required to determine if the parent performing the home schooling is capable of teaching at the child's grade level. Home visits would monitor a student's progress or lack of progress.
HB 217 simply requires a written statement that students will be instructed in language arts, mathematics, history, natural sciences, citizenship, government and health. Students must also pass an academic assessment once a year. Student instruction needs to be monitored in insure quality comparable to public schools.
If passed, the proposal would be made at the State Convention and in all probability, it would also be proposed to the State Board of Education.
The proposal incorrectly assumes that the present regulations and pending legislation regarding home instruction establish standards which are too low for home-schooling instructors and that there are non-existent standards for home-schooling curricula. Therefore, the PTA concludes that the home-schooling situation in Ohio needs to be monitored. Home visits, according to them, would monitor the progress.
The PTA states that student instruction needs to be monitored to insure quality that is comparable to public schools. This statement alone would be enough to point out the fallacy of the proposal. If the PTA believes that public school education is to be modeled, we would like to know where they have been for the last twenty years while public education has floundered because of lack of quality. We wonder if they have heard the loud cries for reform coming from every quarter of our government and society. If anything, public schools should be trying to model the quality of the education of home schools! The PTA should be recommending that public schools be monitored for progress, not home schools.
The PTA's proposal totally ignores the evaluation provisions of the current regulations which sufficiently protect the state's claimed interest in education by monitoring the child's progress through standardized tests, evaluation by a certified teacher, or some other means mutually agreeable to school officials and the parents. Why would anyone believe that visits to the home would adequately monitor a child's progress?
In addition, this resolution is a patent violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution which affords privacy protection for citizens by preventing searches of homes unless there is a warrant for the search issued by a judge or the search is in response to exigent circumstances such as a serious crime in progress which would demand immediate action on the part of the police. The PTA proposal indicates a blatant disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens. The only way the proposal could be construed as reasonable would be to view children as mere creatures of the state with parents who do not have any rights merely privileges as government sees fit to grant them.
Fortunately, we have not yet reached this state in America. The case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 535 (1925) stands for the proposition that children are not mere creatures of the state and that the right to direct the education of children is a parental right, not a privilege. Additionally, in the case of Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584, Chief Justice Burger in writing for the majority of the court said that there is a presumption that parents act in the best interest of their children. “The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.”
This attempt by the PTA demonstrates a distrust of parents and advances the statist notion that parents are presumed to be deceptive and unfit to educate their children. The PTA does not realize that this kind of proposal cuts at the very heart of parental rights in spite of the fact that the organization is made up of parents as well as teachers. Hopefully, these parents will wake up before the state has destroyed the basic rights of parents in the education and upbringing of their children. If the rights of home schoolers cannot be protected, it will not be long before all parents will be under the authority of the state in every area of child rearing. We are already seeing glimpses of this in early childhood intervention programs to identify “at-risk” children and training programs for parents which are being designed as a part of the educational reform thrust (e.g. Hawaii, Missouri, Colorado, Ohio, etc).
Because the PTA is a national organization, we anticipate similar incidents throughout our states as the strong teachers union lobby encourages other agencies to think and act in like fashion.
HSLDA Welcomes Fifth Attorney
It is with pleasure that we welcome Dewitt Black to HSLDA as the fifth staff attorney. Since his timely arrival the first week of November he has helped meet the demands of the burgeoning legal workload.
An experienced attorney, Dee has been practicing law for almost 17 years. Following his graduation from Memphis State University School of Law he entered private practice in Arkansas for three years. He then moved to the Washington, D.C. area to work for the Environmental Protection Agency and complete his graduate studies at Georgetown University Law Center. It was during this time that Dee received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, and married his bride, Ricci.
After Dee earned his Master of Laws degree from Georgetown, the Blacks moved to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where Dee resumed work in the private sector with a law firm.
The Blacks were introduced to the concept of home schooling through a family in their church. Initially, they were interested in the quality of education that could be offered at home. Dee felt that both Ricci and he were more academically qualified to teach their children than many public school teachers. Dee said, “I have now come to realize, however, that there is little correlation between successful home education of children and the academic credentials of the parents. What is required is a personal conviction that parents have the primary responsibility of educating their children and a commitment to fulfill that responsibility.”
The Blacks also recognized that through home schooling they could offer their children spiritual direction, teach them to stand alone against peer pressure, and provide socialization within the family. Dee said, “We didn't want their socialization to occur with those who might have a negative influence on them. I kept thinking about a Biblical principle taught to me as a child by my mother as found in I Corinthians 15:33: ‘Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good character.’”
Ricci began teaching Christina when she was five years old. The Blacks are now in their fourth year of home schooling and are enrolled in the Advanced Training Institute of America program.
Dee has been assisting HSLDA for the past two years as local counsel in South Carolina. Two years ago, while attending a Gregg Harris conference, the Blacks heard Michael Farris speak. After the meeting Dee gave Mike his business card. Shortly thereafter Mike called to ask if he would like to assist HSLDA with the EEE cases.
This past September at the EEE trial in Columbia, South Carolina, Attorneys Farris and Smith talked to Dee about their need for additional legal staff.
Dee and Ricci had been praying that God would lead them into a more direct ministry. They did not know what God had in store, but they had prayed for His clear direction. At the end of September, the Blacks flew to Virginia to discuss the staff position with Mike Farris and Mike Smith. After praying about the possible move, they sensed God's calling for them to leave South Carolina after 11 years and join HSLDA. HSLDA offered them the job, and they accepted. Within six weeks of first hearing about the position, they were moving.
Confident that God has led them here, Dee expresses gratefulness to work for an organization where everyone is a born-again Christian and is dedicated to supporting families in their commitment to train up their children in the way that they should go.
The shrill ring of the telephone shatters many a peaceful moment or, more commonly, becomes one more voice in the steadily crescendoing din demanding your attention. At such moments it is easiest to let the hand closest still the ringing, no matter how small that hand may be. It is important to remember however, that when friends, family, school officials, neighbors or even perverts call your home, the very first impression they have of your family (and of home schoolers) comes from the manner in which the telephone is answered.
A courteous and confident voice answering the telephone creates a favorable first impression, but when proper telephone etiquette isn't exercised, the caller can become frustrated and possibly angry. Such a situation not only begins a conversation “on the wrong foot,” it may also leave a lasting negative impression.
As we have continuing telephone contact with our member families, we are delighted to find that most parents have obviously trained their children well in the types of responses they should give when answering. The children are courteous and able to take accurate messages. Some of the following scenarios, however, have caused us concern as we picture the possible repercussions should a truant officer or school official receive the response we did when we tried to reach you.
“This is Home School Legal Defense. May I speak with your mother?”
“Is she there?”
“When will she be back?”
“I don’t know.”
“Can you take a message?”
“No. You can call back.”
“Can you go get her?”
“Who is this?”
“This is Home School Legal Defense. May I speak to your mother?”
“She's busy (or she's sleeping, or she's outside).”
“Can you tell her Home School Legal Defense is on the telephone?”
“May I speak to your mother.”
“She’s not here.”
“Is your father there?”
“No. They're both out of town.”
“When are they coming home?”
“Monday.” (in 3 days)
“Is a sitter there?”
“Who is looking after you?”
“A relative looks in on us.”
“Are they staying with you?”
“No. We're here by ourselves, but they're checking on us.”
Often young children pick up the telephone and hang up almost as quickly, thinking it is a game or a toy. In some instances, a child has hung up on a staff member repeatedly before we finally are finally able to reach the parent.
Scores of parents report that their first contact with the school superintendent was when he called and spoke with a son or daughter who freely gave them names, ages, and almost anything else the superintendent asked for. This information could be very damaging in the wrong hands. Children must be trained to be discreet and never divulge sensitive family information.
Another area that demands careful training is the handling of “crank” calls firmly, but courteously. For over a year now, HSLDA has been warning families about a man who regularly calls home-schooling families throughout the United States, asking detailed questions about their methods of discipline. He uses this inquiry process as an opening to lead into perverted discussions. Normally he has confined his conversations to home-schooling mothers, but recently we have received reports that he has begun questioning children who answer his calls. Children who have answered his questions freely have placed their parents into very awkward and even vulnerable situations.
What is the best policy for your home? If, after reading this article, you doubt the wisdom of having your children answer the telephone, it would be wise to restrict this responsibility to the parents. If you have no hesitation about your children answering the telephone, please make sure that each child is mature enough to follow a set pattern for answering which has been thoroughly rehearsed. Establish a procedure that is followed every time the telephone rings. Determine who will answer, what words will be used when answering, and specify what type of information is “public” and can be given to strangers.
We can't forget that education is more than academics. We are raising ambassadors for Christ and for home schooling. Although it may be inconvenient for us to answer the phone ourselves or take the time for extensive training of our children, in the long run, it may protect us from enormous problems.
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support during my wife's pregnancy. Many of you knew her intestinal disease had caused complications early on in the pregnancy. By God's grace and many prayers, Tracy gave birth on November 8 (her due date) to Megan Hannah, a healthy 8 lb., 13 oz. Baby. We are awed by God's love as we have the privilege of raising this little “miracle” child.
In His love,
Chris J. Klicka
Linda Meloy has returned to work at HSLDA after a long leave of absence due to a serious back injury. We are thrilled to have her with us again and know that you will be encouraged by her helpful and knowledgeable assistance as you call the membership services department.
Linda Croxwell has moved from the Membership Services department to become the National Center's first testing coordinator. She will be handling the challenging job of answering questions, registering testing administrators, and processing test orders.
Katherine Eppley, a wonderfully organized and efficient part-time employee in Membership Services, has left HSLDA to become the secretary for her church. We are sorry to see her go and will miss her cheerfulness. We know, however, that the church will benefit from her assistance, and we rejoice with her in this new ministry opportunity that God has given her.