Last year, Congressman Bill Goodling (R-PA), Chairman of the Education Workforce Committee, asked for HSLDAs input in the redrafting of the ESEA. We accepted this invitation and have been able to recommend significant changes to this years reauthorization bills. Several other conservative organizations also contributed to the drafting process including Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Christian Coalition, and the American Association of Christian Schools.
The House Version
On the House side, the ESEA was broken into four bills: The Straight As bill, the Teacher Empowerment Act (H.R. 1995), Students Results Act (H.R. 2) and the OPTIONS bill (H.R. 4141).
The first, Straight As, would allow up to 15 states maximum flexibility in how they use federal K12 funds and eliminate federal strings from many failed education programs. The Teacher Empowerment Act would narrow federal education spending. At HSLDAs Proclaim Liberty Rally last September, nearly 2000 home schoolers visited their congressmen in support of these two measures, significantly contributing to their passage.
The Students Results Act directs aid to students from low-income families. This programs strings might be avoided by 15 states that may opt out under the proposed Straight As Act. HSLDA did not support the Students Results Act.
Lastly, the OPTIONS Act was introduced in 2000 and the Education and Workforce Committee passed it in early April. OPTIONS is now headed for the House floor. The OPTIONS bill includes important home school exemptions and protections for parental rights. Specifically, the act eliminates the remaining portions of Goals 2000 (including the goals panel and the Goals themselves), strikes all references to School-to-Work, exempts home schoolers from the Gun-Free School Zone language, prohibits development of a national test, and forbids national teacher certification development.
The Senate Version
On the Senate side, Republicans decided to keep the ESEA together as one huge bill (S. 2). Most of the Straight As bill and The Teacher Empowerment Act were included in the Senates version of the ESEA. Furthermore, many parts of the House OPTIONS bill are included. HSLDA is working to include other key amendments to be introduced from the Senate floor.