Congressman Joel Hefley Petitions Pentagon: Fair Treatment For Home Schoolers
Home schooling is still a relatively new movement, and so it is not surprising to discover new “roadblocks” as the first generation of home-schooled children begin to grow up and take their places in society. One roadblock home schoolers have discovered is the United States military enlistment policy. The National Center has repeatedly received reports from home-schooling parents that their bright, healthy offspring who have passed all the tests with flying colors were having great difficulty enlisting in the armed forces.
Upon investigation, the National Center discovered that the Department of Defense evaluates a candidate's desirability according to a 3-tiered system based on attrition rates of recruits correlated with their educational background.
Tier 1, the highest level of desirability, includes traditional high school graduates and young people who have completed some college work. Tier 2 includes GED candidates and correspondence school graduates, and tier 3 is reserved for high school dropouts.
Because a formal study on the attrition rates of home schoolers has not been done, the Department of Defense arbitrarily lumped them together with correspondence school graduates in tier 2. From the data available, however, it appears that the drop-out rate for home schoolers is less than all other groups except one—recruits who have more than two years of college.
The Department of Defense's goal in giving priority to recruits most likely to finish their contracted terms is certainly understandable. It costs the government a great deal of money to train new recruits, and as taxpayers we wholeheartedly support efforts to use funds efficiently. But we do not want to see home schoolers discriminated against, which is what their arbitrary assignment to a tier 2 status essentially does. In any geographical area, only a limited number of openings are available for tier 2 and tier 3 candidates.
HSLDA and the National Center for Home Education have been working with the Pentagon for the past several years in an attempt to move home school graduates to tier 1. In August, Michael Farris and Inge Cannon met with Congressman Joel Hefley's legislative aide Jeff Crank to discuss ways that their office could help home schoolers. The result of the meeting was a letter to the Pentagon generated by Congressman Hefley [R-CO] and co-signed by Senator Jesse Helms [R-NC] and Congressmen William Dannemeyer [R-CA], James Sensenbrenner [R-WI], and William Dickinson [R-AL].
Dated October 11, 1991, the letter is addressed to the honorable Christopher Jehn, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Force Management and Personnel:
We are concerned about an enlistment policy which discriminates against home school students. Representatives from the National Center for Home Education have informed us, and Pentagon officials have confirmed, that home schoolers have been placed into Tier II for admissions screening, making them less desirable candidates for potential military service.
The decision to include home schoolers in the second tier of the three-tiered system was made with incomplete data. It was assumed that home schoolers should be included in the same category as correspondence school students because these students do not receive an actual high school diploma. This decision limits the number of home schoolers eligible to enter the military, keeping some of its best and most reliable applicants out.
Studies conducted by the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) show that the average attrition rate for home schoolers for all branches of the military is 9.5% during the first six months of service. This compares with 12.1% for public school graduates and 17.5% for those with a GED. The only educational category with a lower attrition rate were those with two or more years of college (9.2%).
It is interesting to note that the group with the highest attrition rate was correspondence school graduates (21.6%). As you can see, it doesn't make sense to include these two groups in the same tier.
We have been informed that the Department of Defense is currently looking at revamping the tier system. We strongly urge you to consider conducting a two-year study including home schoolers in the same group with high school graduates. This will provide a fair opportunity for home schoolers to prove their viability and desirability to serve their country.
We know you are concerned about placing the most qualified candidates in the military and that you desire the lowest possible attrition. We believe that given a fair chance, home schoolers can meet this need.
The National Center for Home Education is hopeful that the Pentagon will respond favorably to this request, allowing home schoolers to demonstrate the tremendous strength of character and academic credibility they are able to achieve as a result of their parents’ commitment to train them in the home.