Religious Freedom Restoration Act to be Refiled in 102nd Congress
The congressional effort to overturn the Supreme Court's devaluation of religious freedom in last April's Smith II decision continues to make headway in Congress. Both the House and Senate introduced this legislation in the fall of 1990, and the House held initial hearings before the December adjournment of the 101st Session.
Religious freedom advocates met frequently during the congressional recess to draft some modifications in the legislation. HSLDA's Michael Farris is an active participant in the steering committee for this legislation. One modification Mr. Farris suggested was to ensure that the bill could be used to defend cases as well as prosecute cases. (Most home-schooling cases are defensive in nature.) This suggestion was incorporated into the bill.
The remarkable coalition supporting this legislation continues to function well. Both liberal and conservative groups, which often battle over “separation of church and state” questions, are in complete accord over the issue of the free exercise of religion.
Hopefully, there will be further hearings on the legislation during the spring months. Final action would come in the summer at the earliest. Letters to each Congressman and Senator urging their co-sponsorship of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” are still needed.
NBPTS Funding Reintroduced in U.S. Senate
On February 21, 1991, Senator Christopher Dodd [D-CT] introduced to Congress, S.457, a bill to authorize $25 million over three years to match private contributions to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) for research and development of assessments for voluntary national teacher certification. The NBPTS seeks to create a special level of teacher certification similar to the recognition process of examinations like those taken to be a “certified public accountant.”
Home schoolers were very concerned about this measure during the 101st session of Congress (S.695) because many NBPTS board members were also members of the national teachers unions, National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which have clearly taken a position against home schooling. Some people felt that the work of the NBPTS would eventually yield teacher certification requirements for home-schooling parents. The measure failed to pass in the 101st session because the adjournment clock ran out.
HSLDA attorneys have reviewed the text of S.457 and find that protective language has been included to exempt home schoolers from the board's efforts. Section 3, Definitions, (5) states that “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to infringe upon the practice or accreditation of home school or private school teaching.” We are making specific suggestions to strengthen this protection by better wording and by moving the clause to the section which outlines “Authorized Activities.”
Even in its current wording, the chances of this bill affecting home schoolers are remote; however, we cannot say the chances are non-existent. Another consideration to weigh in opposing the bill would be the concerns of taxpayers who rightly question why we should allow our funds to benefit those whose expressed aims (through union association) are to prohibit home schooling. The NBPTS is a private agency, and one could legitimately question why as such it should receive government funding to do its work.
Testing Service for Home Schoolers Extends Dates
During these initial months of building the tracks on which the “train” of standardized achievement testing can run for our members, we have rediscovered the proverbial “Murphy”! Not only does the task at hand expand to fill the available time, this mammoth job is taking longer than any of us could foresee.
Thus, we are happy to service HSLDA members in testing during the months of May and June even though the spring norming period for the Stanford Achievement Test is from April 1–30. If you still would like to register for testing through the National Center's service, we will accommodate you on the following schedule:
- Family registration for May testing must be received in our office with a postmark no later than April 15. Tests should be given in May and scored in June. You would receive these score reports for your children in mid-July.
- Family registration for June testing must be received in our office with a postmark no later than May 15. These tests would be given in June and scored in July. You would receive score reports in mid-August.
- Families who are testing in April (the preferred time period) were to have been registered by March 15, 1991. Testing must be completed by April 30, and scoring will be done during May. Score reports will be returned to parents by the end of June.
We have been able to negotiate with The Psychological Corporation a means by which parents who qualify as test administrators can test their own children. Since the situation occurs in schools where teachers have had their own sons or daughters in their classes, The Psychological Corporation has agreed that if the parent includes at least two other children in the group who are not related to the family, they may proceed with testing their own youngsters. This same standard is being applied to settings in which the grandparents of the child, an aunt/uncle, or adult brother/sister are administering the test.
We are eager to identify as many qualified test administrators as possible for the testing service so that families will not have to travel great distances. If you could qualify, please consider this opportunity of service. If you know someone in your church who is interested in helping home schoolers be at their best, share our testing brochure with him/her.
Brochures including family and test administrator registration forms are available by writing: NCHE Testing Service, P.O. Box 400, Paeonian Springs, VA 22129. Our testing phone number is (703) 882-4793. Ask for Linda Croxall when you call. We appreciate so much your patience in working with us during these important months of organizing this vital program.
Meet NCHE's Association Director
Mrs. Ronald Jay Cannon, otherwise known as Inge, is the Associate Director of the National Center for Home Education, founded by HSLDA in February 1990. Inge's responsibilities include communicating with state home school leaders through monthly mailing regarding legislative trends and political issues which affect home schoolers. She also oversees the publications department and the testing service.
God has uniquely gifted Inge for the responsibilities she now faces. She has an extensive background in education, graduating in 1971 with a bachelors degree in music education from Bob Jones University and in 1976 with a masters degree in education from the University of Illinois.
During her career in traditional education, Inge ran a church day care center, taught music and English, and administered a Christian school. Eventually God led her to Maranatha Baptist Bible College where she was Dean of Women and taught education courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
It was while Inge was at Maranatha that she was first introduced to the concept of home education. Bill Gothard, founder and president of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, invited Inge to attend a special conference to plan the foundation of the Institute's home education curriculum, the Advanced Training Institute of America. As the meeting progressed, Inge found the phrasing of her advice changing from “you” to “we.” She was hooked!
Inge moved to Oak Brook, Illinois in 1985 to direct the ATIA program. During her years of ministry there she was blessed to see the curriculum take shape and the program get off the ground. It was also during this period of her life that God brought Air Force Captain and health care administrator, Dr. Ronald Jay Cannon, into her life. Inge and Ron were married in 1987 and are a living testimony of the fact that God's best is well worth the wait.
New winds began to blow late in the fall of 1989. Inge and Ron attended the National Home School Leadership Conference hosted by HSLDA in October. One month later Mike Farris called, asking if she could recommend a person to fill the new position that would be created at HSLDA—Director of Public Affairs. This position would focus on tracking legislation pertaining to home schooling.
As Inge hung up the phone, she considered Mike's request. Ron had resigned his commission in November and was investigating civilian career opportunities, the ATIA program was fully launched, and the HSLDA job sounded intriguing. Sure enough, through a variety of circumstances God's will was made clear to the Cannons, and in February of 1990, Ron and Inge found themselves in Virginia.
One week before they moved, however, the HSLDA board met and determined that it was God's direction to launch the National Center for Home Education as a ministry to state leaders. Much of what the National Center does was part of the original Public Affairs job description, so it was a simple matter to transfer Inge's experience to this new direction.
Inge has found working with the National Center to be an enlightening experience. She has gained a broader perspective of the extent of the home-schooling movement and is excitedly envisioning new ways to serve these pioneering families. Proximity to Washington, DC has allowed Inge to witness the lack of understanding exhibited by the nation's leaders of what destroys or weakens the family unit. It is with ever-deepening concern that she watches the unending attack on parental rights. In response, a constant effort must be made to educate those in authority to the damage they are doing. These are the issues that make Inge's job at the National Center rewarding and challenging, and she is grateful that God is allowing her to serve Him through this important ministry.
Dear Mrs. Bush,
In response to an article in the fall issue of the Home School Court Report, many children wrote wonderful letters to Mrs. Bush, telling her why they like to learn at home. The First Lady has been responding to the children's letters, and printed below is a copy of the reply Lindsay Camp received.
THE WHITE HOUSE
January 14, 1991
Your thoughtful letter is indeed appreciated. I have been glad to learn from young people and their parents about how positive their home schooling experiences have been, and it is good to know that this is the case for your family and many others.
It is always a special pleasure to hear from young people who love to learn and who are excited about their education. I hope you will always have the same enthusiasm for whatever you do in life.
Thank you so much for sharing.
The Ron Kloewer family received a similar reply to their letter, but at the bottom Mrs. Bush added the following note:
I have had lots of great letters from home schoolers. I’m learning!
Dear HSLDA Staff,
I've just finished reading the January–February Court Report and, as usual, I'm filled with thanksgiving for your diligent efforts on behalf of us home schoolers. I can't imagine where we would be today (as a group) without your willingness to fulfill the vision God gave you, nor what the future would hold without your help.
I feel as if our family is in the eye of the storm, peacefully conducting our home school, without a thought most days of any opposition. The publication helps me to remember the plight of others and to thank God He has called you to be advocates for all of us. Thanks for printing your pictures so we can feel even more of a bond with you.
I appreciate the initiation of the testing service and plan to take advantage of it. My third grader also wrote a letter to Barbara Bush and received a nice letter in reply. I know Corrie will enjoy reading the letters you printed in the magazine.
The new format is easier to read and more inviting. I've saved all the issues over the last five years; who knows when the information will come in handy?
Thank you for doing a great job, and may God continue to bless you and your families.
Los Banos, California
Dear Staff of HSLDA,
We appreciate you so very much. We read your Court Report with great interest as it's our main source of information about the battle in other states. We pray for you all with thanksgiving. The personal notes on staff members are helpful….
Thank you for being there. Be assured of our continued prayers.
Carl & Peggy Granquist
“Thanks again for your help. We did not realize when we joined in July how quickly we would need your advice and encouragement.”
Shari Donaldson is HSLDA's newest staff member. She joined our ranks in January to help meet the Membership Department's need for a receptionist. Shari works part-time, and members calling during the morning hours will hear her cheerful greeting.
Shari's family moved to the Leesburg area six months ago from Columbia, South Carolina. She and her husband Ned raised their three boys on the mission field, first in Malaysia and then in Thailand. When it was time for the boys to begin college, the Donaldsons returned to the states. While here, God has given Ned and Shari the opportunity to work with Peoples of the World, a mission agency which trains churches to reach internationals in their communities. When their boys have completed their education, Shari and Ned look forward to returning to Thailand.
We are grateful God brought Shari to work with us. Even when the telephone lines all ring at once and extension lights flash furiously, Shari handles the calls calmly and helpfully. Welcome aboard, Shari. We are glad you've joined the team!