CAP Trainees March Fourth!
At 6:00 a.m. on March 4, 1999, Washington, DC, awoke to gusting snow and the raucous clatter of windows fighting back blustery attacks from bone chilling winds. Radio announcers reported school closings and cancellations as far north as Maryland and Pennsylvania, followed by reports of automobile accidents and a snow emergency warning for the DC area. However, even with March weather roaring in like a lion, the Congressional Action Programís Basic Training for Home School Lobbyists must continue. And continue, it did! Braving snow and biting winds, 136 home school trainees marched forth to Capitol Hill for the 12th CAP Basic Trainingthe largest turnout in CAPís six-year history. Basic Training is sponsored by the National Center for Home Education, a division of Home School Legal Defense Association.
Mike Smith, vice president of HSLDA, opened the day by exhorting the new trainees to remain vigilant for the cause of freedom and home schooling in the gates of our nation. Following several stories of Gods blessing and protection in many legislative battles, Smith turned the floor over to Doug Domenech, HSLDAs director of government affairs, who gave a primer on the congressional process and a thorough explanation of finding your way around Capitol Hill.
CAP Assistant, Samuel Redfern, reported encouraging stories of successful lobbying in both the Montana State Legislature and the United States Congress. The trainees were then equipped with the practical nuts and bolts of effective home school lobbying by Assistant CAP Director Caleb Kershner, followed by a comprehensive overview of federal issues facing home schoolers from Christopher Klicka, executive director of the National Center.
That afternoon, the group took a brisk 10-minute walk from the hotel through the cold air and newly fallen snow, to a room directly under the Capitol rotunda. Congressman Rick Hill (R-MT) shared several key educational initiatives planned for the 106th Congress and described several freedom-centered, heart moving speeches given by other congressmen in that very room.
Two congressional staffers, Horace Cooper from the Leadership Office and Tom Washburne from Congressman John Hostettlers (R-IN) office, fielded questions from the trainees and presented their insiders view of effective lobbying.
As the grand finale to this years training session, HSLDA presented Georgia Senator Paul Coverdell (R) with the 1999 Home School Freedom Award. (See sidebar.) The senator told the group that he accepted the award out of his appreciation for home school parents who sacrifice to educate their children. HSLDA salutes Senator Coverdell for his contribution to protecting home school and family freedoms last year and we pray that God will bless him during the 106th Congress.
A prerequisite to becoming a CAP lobbyist, our basic training is held once a year to equip home school families for lobbying on Capitol Hill. If you are interested in participating, call Caleb Kershner or Samuel Redfern at the National Center for Home Education, (540) 338-7600. Get involvedyou can make a difference!
Coverdell Receives Freedom Award
At its annual March 4 home school lobbyist training seminar, Home School Legal Defense Association presented Senator Paul Coverdell (R-GA) with its 1999 Home Education Freedom Award. Coverdell was honored for his tireless efforts to defend home school freedoms in two basic areas: enlistment in the military and general education reform.
For years, home schoolers have been categorized as dropouts when seeking entrance into any of the four branches of the military. Senator Coverdell understood the problem and introduced an amendment drafted by HSLDA to the Defense Authorization Bill of 1998. This has opened the doors for home schoolers to gain entrance in all four military branches and receive the full benefits of enlistment, including college scholarships previously enjoyed only by high school graduates from public and private schools.
A leader in the area of education reform, Coverdell sponsored the Education Savings Accounts, helped pass the ban on national testing, and is committed to spearheading a repeal of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act in the 106th Congress. In addition to the Senators personal assistance, his staff has worked with HSLDA to address other federal problems on numerous occasions.