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Teach Them to Dream Big Dreams: A Look at HSLDA's Conference at the Capitol

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Teach Them to Dream Big Dreams: A Look at HSLDA’s Conference at the Capitol

The last weekend of September marked another milestone in home schooling history. The largest group of home schoolers ever to gather in Washington, DC—approximately 2000 from 40 states—came to proclaim liberty and affirm the principles of self-government. They brought their message to a rally on the mall, they lobbied their congressmen, they heard from some of today’s top conservative policy makers and experts, and they brought their children to see history made and in the making. In this place where so much of America’s freedom was won and our laws are now made, these parents came to teach their children how big dreams of freedom are accomplished.

Thursday, September 23,
Home School Freedom Works! Rally

Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO) presents HSLDA President Mike Farris with a copy of Senate Resolution 183, declaring September 19-25, 1999, National Home Education Week. SR 183 passed both the judiciary committee and the full Senate unanimously.

“I reject the notion that children ever belong to government. Let us not as a nation, by having so much bureaucratic control ... somhow signal that parents need not apply.”

—Senator John Ashcroft
(quoted in St. Louis Missouri, Post-Dispatch, September 24, 1999)

Rally Speakers
(Listed in the order in which they spoke)
  Michael Farris, President of HSLDA
  Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO)
  Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX)
  Congressman John Hostettler (R-IN)
  Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL)
  Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA)
  Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
  Congressman Bill Goodling (R-PA)
  Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
  Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)
  Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL)
  Congressman Jim DeMint (R-SC)
  Congressman Jim Ryun (R-KS)

On September 23, fathers, mothers, grandparents, and young people of all ages congregated in front of the west steps of the Capitol simply to say, “Home schooling works, and we are doing well enough to be left alone.” That afternoon, many of them dispersed to take that message to their elected representatives during the Home School Lobby Day.

Addressing the rally were a number of pro-family legislators, including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX). However, the highlight came when Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO) honored home schoolers throughout America by presenting Mike Farris with Senate Resolution 183—recognizing September 19-25, 1999, as “National Home Education Week.” The resolution was initiated by the Missouri Home Educators Association and drafted by the National Center for Home Education.

“I must confess that there was a time, not long ago, that I had a concern about home schooling. Not a concern about the quality of education, but a concern about whether those who were choosing to educate their children at home were giving up on our society. I wondered if our country could afford to have so many families pulling out of the process, pulling out of politics, pulling out of America.

I wonder no more. Everywhere I turn, be it on Capitol Hill—where my Chief of Staff and Legislative Director are home schooling dads and my Staff Assistant is a home schooling graduate—or back home in Indiana, where home schoolers are among my most active campaign volunteers, I am surrounded—not by those who have given up on our society, but by those who have engaged—those who have chosen to embrace not only their children, but their country.

…Welcome to Washington, DC. I’m glad you’re here.”

—Remarks of the Honorable John Hostettler
at the Proclaim Liberty Rally, Sept. 23, 1999

Friday, September 24,
Proclaim Liberty Conference

Receiving national media coverage and attracting top presidential candidates, HSLDA’s Proclaim Liberty conference on September 24 highlighted the impact that home schoolers are making in the legislative arena. About 2000 attendees heard from 17 speakers, ranging from six presidential candidates to several congressmen, a senator, national public policy experts and HSLDA president Michael Farris. The speakers praised home schoolers’ hard work and academic success, and participants were heartened by the emphasis on protecting family and freedom.

Conference Speakers
(Listed in the order in which they spoke)
  Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX)
  Congressman David McIntosh (R-IN)
  Congressman Steve Largent (R-OK)
  Steve Forbes, presidential candidate
  Beverly LaHaye, Founder of Concerned Women for America
  Paul Weyrich, President of Free Congress Foundation
  Senator Bob Smith, presidential candidate
  Randy Tate, Executive Director of Christian Coalition
  George W. Bush, Governor of Texas, presidential candidate
  Dr. Phillip Johnson, Professor of Law, University of California
  John Lenczowski, President of the Institute of World Politics
  Gary Bauer, presidential candidate
  Alan Keyes, presidential candidate
  Bob Jones, III, National Editor of World Magazine
  Bill Parker, President of
  Howard Phillips, presidential candidate
  Pat Buchanan, presidential candidate
  Michael Farris, President of HSLDA

(Note: HSLDA invited all major presidential candidates to speak. HSLDA does not endorse candidates for any public office.)

TOP LEFT: Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes commended home schoolers’ courage.
TOP RIGHT: Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan fields reporters’ questions following his speech focusing on foreign policy and trade matters. At the time a Republican, he has since switched to the Reform Party.
ABOVE: Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer (right), who promised to be a reliable friend to home schoolers, discusses issues with Constitution Party presidential nominee, Howard Phillips (left).

Saturday, September 25,
Proclaim Liberty Run

This year’s conference included a 5K (3.1 miles) National High School Cross Country Meet for Home Schoolers and a 1-mile Family Fun Run on September 25. The event was held at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. Sponsored by, the run was organized by HSLDA Board Member Rodger Sayre and Assistant CAP Director Sam Redfern. Over 70 runners and 24 5K racers participated. All proceeds after expenses went to Patrick Henry College.