ISSUE UPDATE

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
October 12, 2000

Federal Issue Update:106th Congress (Second Session)

EDUCATION ISSUES

  1. Eliminate Discrimination Against Home Schoolers in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports efforts to change current law and regulation that limits the eligibility of home schoolers for special needs education services.

    Presently, only home schools which operate as private schools can receive special needs assistance through IDEA.

    HSLDA also advocates that IDEA exempt home schoolers who do not wish to comply with IDEA’s Child Find provisions which require local school districts to locate and evaluate “all” special needs students.

    STATUS/ACTION

    HSLDA succeeded in inserting language into the House and Senate ESEA reauthorization that says;

    “Nothing in this Act or any other Act administered by the Department of Education, shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school under state law. This section shall not be construed to bar private, religious, home schools from participation in programs or services under this Act or any other Act administered by the Department of Education.”

    This technically takes care of the problem but ESEA is unlikely to see floor action. Over the last few weeks we have been working with leadership to insert similar language into the annual education appropriations bill. This would only be a one-year “fix” but it is a first step.

    This is an ongoing issue.

  2. Amend the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB).

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports efforts to change/amend law working to return NAEP and NAGB to their original scope and keep the NAEP from becoming a national test.

    STATUS/ACTION

    Rather than passing a stand-alone bill, the House chose to include the NAEP reauthorization in this year’s Scientifically Based Education Research, Statistics, Evaluation, and Information Act of 2000 (H.R. 4875). This bill was marked up in subcommittee on July 28, 2000.

    HSLDA succeeded in having two key reforms included in the NAEP portion of the bill are: 1) the bill limits subjects areas that can be tested, and 2) state and local educational agencies cannot be forced to participate in the regional NAEP and may opt not to test.

    The bill also includes a clear prohibition against national testing.
    HSLDA is seeking additional changes to the bill including:

    1. Making State Participation Voluntary.
    2. Assure that only Parents are members of NAGB.
    3. End religious bias in testing.
    4. Limit subjects tested.

    HR 4875 is not likely to pass this year. Therefore, work on NAEP will begin all over again in the 107th congress.

  3. Oppose Reauthorization of Goals 2000 Still in the Law

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports the total elimination of the Goals 2000: Education America Act

    STATUS/ACTION

    HSLDA worked hard during the 106th Congress to eliminate this failed program which spawned Outcome Based Education.

    HSLDA succeeded in including repeal language in the FY2000 Omnibus spending bill that repealed Titles III and IV of Goals, the largest portions. H.R.3424: Title III, Section 310 (i) reads, “Titles III and IV of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act are repealed on September 30, 2000.“

    Unfortunately, the US Senate is attempting to restore funding for Title IV.

    We note also that according to the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, Title V, the National Skills Standards Board was “terminated“, “repealed,“ and “sunsetted“ on September 30, 1999.

    Section 503 (j) says, “TERMINATION - The National Board shall terminate on September 30, 1999.“Section 601 SUNSET PROVISION says, “(a) REPEAL. - This title is repealed on September 30, 1999.“

    However, this Board received $7 million in the FY2000 appropriation and is targeted for additional funds this year.

    HSLDA will continue to oppose this program.

  4. Elementary Secondary Education Act

    HSLDA POSITION

    Monitor and promote the downsizing of the federal role during the reauthorization on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

    Assure home school protections are once again included in the act.

    STATUS/ACTION

    A final vote on the ESEA is unlikely this year because of the political pressure of election year. Described below is the breakdown of the ESEA reauthorization changes propsed during the 106th Congress:

    THE HOUSE VERSION OF THE ESEA

    On the House side, the ESEA was broken into four bills: The Straight A’s bill (HR 2300) , The Teacher Empowerment Act (H.R. 1995), Students Results Act (H.R. 2) and the OPTIONS bill (H.R. 4141).

    HSLDA supported passage of Straight As and the Teacher Empowerment Act. The Students Results Act directs aid to students of low-income families but the program “strings” could be avoided by any states opting out under the Straight A’s Act. We did not support this bill. The OPTIONS Act, was introduced in 2000 and we supported passage in the Education and Workforce Committee. The OPTIONS bill includes many of the most important home school exemptions and protections for parental rights but it is unlikely to make it to the floor because Democrats have threatened to add anti-gun and school construction amendments. The House Education and Workforce Committee removed all references to the Goals and the Panel in the ESEA, as well as references to the School-to-Work Opportunities Act.

    THE SENATE VERSION OF THE ESEA

    On the Senate side, the Republicans decided to keep the ESEA together as one huge bill (S. 2). Most of the Straight A’s and Teacher Empowerment bill language from the House side was included in the Senate’s version of the ESEA. Some of the parts of the OPTIONS bill are included and HSLDA is working on having more key amendments added on the Senate floor. The Senate version maintains some references to Goals 2000 but not School-to-Work.

    SUMMARY OF THE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO THE ESEA

    Significant changes made to the ESEA package reduce the federal role in education and eliminate many failed education programs. Also parental rights protections have been added including the complete elimination of Goals 2000, complete protection of Home Schoolers, a national testing development prohibition, a national teaching certificate prohibition, and a prohibition of the federalization of curriculum.

    [1] HOME SCHOOL EXEMPTION : This language exempts home schoolers from ALL education acts, not only the ESEA. It is included in the House version, and will likely be a part of a technical amendment on the Senate side.

    [2] GUN FREE SCHOOL ZONE EXEMPTION: This language will clearly exempt home schools from theprohibition of gun possession in schools. With this amendment, the homes of home school families willclearly not be subject to the Gun Free School Zone mandates. It is presently included in the House version, and will likely be a part of a technical amendment on the Senate side.

    [3] NATIONAL TESTING PROHIBITION : This language prohibits the DEVELOPMENT of a national test. The present ban (that we obtained in 1998) prohibits field testing, pilot testing, and implementation.

    [4] ELIMINATED FUNDING FOR THE NATIONAL BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL TEACHING STANDARDS: The Senate elimination of funding for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards by the year 2001. The House effectively eliminated NBPTS as part of the Teacher Empowerment Act.

    [5] ELIMINATED NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL GOALS : The Goals and Panel were left out of the House ESEA: The Goals and Panel still remain in the Senate version.

    [6] PROHIBITION ON NATIONAL TEACHER CERTIFICATION: Both House and Senate versions of the ESEA include “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary may not use Federal funds to plan, develop, implement, or administer any mandatory national teacher test or mandatory method of certification or licensing.”

    [7] PROHIBITION ON FEDERAL STUDENT PERFORMANCE STANDARDS:The House version includes “. . .no State shall be required to have content standards or student performance standards approved or certified by the federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.”

    [8] PROHIBITION ON ENDORSEMENT OF CURRICULUM: The House version includes “Notwithstanding any other prohibition of Federal law, no funds provided to the Department of Education or to any applicable program may be used by the Department to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in an elementary or secondary school.”

    [9] STRAIGHT A’s/ LOCAL CONTROL LANGUAGE: Passed in House. Limited version in the Senate ESEA.

    [10] OTHER IMPORTANT CHANGES TO THE ESEA INCLUDED IN THE HOUSE VERSION: Eliminates the comprehensive health education language; Eliminates the hate crimes language; Vastly narrows the Fund for Improvement in Education (FIE) (this is there the Department of Education derived its authority to develop a national reading and math test); Requires internet filtering for those receiving funds that would connect to the internet under the technology section; Directs 95 percent of funds to the classroom-wherever possible; Slashes paperwork requirements for states; Ensures that voluntary prayer in public schools is protected; Prohibits ESEA funding of contraceptives and sex education in schools.

  5. Support Education Savings Accounts

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports establishment of education savings accounts that allow parents to save funds tax-free for K-12 home school education.

    STATUS/ACTION

    Passed twice during the 106th Congress but vetoed by President both times.

  6. Oppose Reauthorization of School-to-Work Opportunities Act

    HSLDA POSITION

    Oppose reauthorization and funding of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act

    STATUS/ACTION

    The School-to-Work Opportunities Act is scheduled to sunset September 30, 2000—during the 106th Congress.HSLDA won a promise from the Education Committee staff it will let it die. FY2001 include ZERO funds for STW.

  7. Eliminate the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards

    HSLDA POSITION

    The Board has been the catalyst for creating anational teaching certificate.

    STATUS/ACTION

    The Teacher Empowerment Act (see below, H.R. 1995) was passed by the house and effectively eliminates all funding for the Board. However, H.R. 1995 is part of the 2000 ESEA reauthorization and is likely to go nowhere. Therefore, NBPTS is still alive. Members of the Workforce Committee tell us that it will probably only be eliminated under a Republican president.

  8. Support Dollars to the Classroom Act and Resolution

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports legislation that calls for at least 95 percent of federal education funding to go directly to the classroom.

    We see this as a way to reduce educational bureaucracy.

    STATUS/ACTION

    HSLDA won passage of H. Res. 303 the Dollars to the Classroom Resolution and principles of the bill have been added to the ESEA bill.

  9. Support the Straight A’s Bill
    (H.R. 1995)

    HSLDA POSITION

    H.R. 2300, The Academic Achievement for All (Straight “A”s) Act blocks grants up to $10 billion directly to the states without strings of the many failed education programs.

    Much of the funding for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is included.

    STATUS/ACTION

    House Passage of H.R. 2300, The Academic Achievement for All (Straight “A”s) Act allows up to 10 States maximum flexibility in how they use federal K-12 funds, in exchange for states being held strictly accountable for improving academic achievement. State participation would be optional. Senate action pending but unlikely.

  10. Support the Teacher Empowerment Act
    (H.R. 1995)

    HSLDA POSITION

    This bill recognizes the states’ authority alone in establishing teacher qualification standards. Combines funds from the Eisenhower Professional Development Program, Goals 2000, and the President’s class size reduction program to provide funds giving schools more flexibility to increase teacher quality and to hire quality teachers to reduce class size. Effectively eliminates several federal education programs, including Goals 2000, by allowing states flexibility in allocating funds for these programs to teacher enhancement efforts.

    This bill reauthorizes Title II of the massive ESEA federal education Act.

    STATUS/ACTION

    WON House passage of H.R. 1995 the Teacher Empowerment Act (Passed House 239-185, Senate action pending.)

    WON inclusion of SEC. 2403. HOME SCHOOLS, which states, “Nothing in this title shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any Federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school under State law. This section shall not be construed to bar private, religious, or home schools from participation in programs or services under this title.”

  11. Home School Resolution

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports efforts in Congress that recognize home school success.

    STATUS/ACTION

    House Resolution 578 passed that designated October 1-7, 2000 National Home Education Week.



FAMILY & RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS ISSUES

  1. Support the Children Tax ID Alternative Act
    H.R. 2494

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports legislation that will allow families with religious objections to obtaining social security numbers for their children to submit alternative proof of identification of their children in order to claim their dependent tax deduction and child tax credits.

    STATUS/ACTION

    Rep. Hostettler (R-IN) and Rep. Bill Goodling (R-PA) introduced HSLDA’s language.

    H.R. 2494 Introduced in the House-has 25 cosponsors. Working to build support. Significant HSLDA and CAP lobbying. Some House staff very interested.

    This will have to wait until next year.

  2. Support Second Amendment Freedoms in Home Schools


    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports the amendment of Part F of Title XIV, Section 14602(b) to codify a letter to HSLDA which says that the Gun Free School Zones provisions do not apply to home schools.

    STATUS/ACTION

    This provision was included in the ESEA reauthorization work.

    ESEA reauthorization not expected to pass this year.

  3. Oppose the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA opposes any effort that might result in the ratification of these UN Conventions.

    STATUS/ACTION

    WON: Senate issue only. We received a promise from Senator Lott that these conventions will not be voted on while he is Majority Leader.

  4. Oppose Citizen Tracking Proposals Through Government Regulations

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA opposes tracking citizens through various means.

    STATUS/ACTION

    Opposed HHS immunization tracking system.

    Supported H.R. 220, the Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act, introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

  5. Oppose Executive Orders that impact on the family.

    HSLDA POSITION

    HLSDA opposes EOs as a way to impose law on citizens

    STATUS/ACTION

    HSLDA monitored White House efforts to legislate through the President’s Executive Order power.

    Specifically: EO 13083 on Federalism, EO 13107 on Implementation of Human Rights Treaties

    National Center for Home Education issued Special Report on EO 13107.

  6. Oppose the Religious Liberty Protection Act (RLPA)
    H.R. 1691

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA opposed the RLPA on the grounds that it violates the original intent of the framers regarding the use of the Interstate Commerce clause.

    STATUS/ACTION

    LOST House vote 306-118.

    Pro-RLPA coalition has split. No action on RLPA in the Senate. A new bill, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) (S.2869), a dubbed down version RLPA, was covertly passed by the House and Senate on July 27 by unanimous consent just before leaving for a month of recess. Now the courts must act.



TAX RELATED ISSUES

  1. Eliminate the Tax Penalty on Marriage

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports efforts to eliminate the marriage tax penalty.

    STATUS/ACTION

    WON in both HOUSE & SENATE

    Both chambers of the 106th congress voted to reduce the Marriage Tax Penalty. President Clinton vetoed this bill. Override attempt failed in House by a vote of 270 yeas to 158 nays

  2. Support Education Tax Credits

    HSLDA POSITION

    HSLDA supports tax credits for education expenses in public, private, and home schools.

    STATUS/ACTION

    Several bills have been introduced to establish education tax credits to allow families to count their education expenses toward their tax liability. S. 138/ H.R. 1710, the K-12 Education Excellence Now Act H.R. 1710 the Children’s Education Tax Credit Act H.R. 600 Education Tax Credit Act of 1999. No votes have taken place on these bills. These bills would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow a credit against income tax for expenses of attending elementary and secondary schools and for contributions to charitable organizations which provide scholarships for children to attend such schools. Home schools would be eligible.