William A. Estrada
Director of Federal Relations
No Child Left Behind
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) came before Congress for reauthorization in early 2001 in the form of H.R. 1, The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Congress inserted section 9506 in NCLB to protect home schools, religious schools and private schools from any regulation by the federal government.
Section 9506 reads in its entirety:
“‘‘SEC. 9506. PRIVATE, RELIGIOUS, AND HOME SCHOOLS.
“(a) APPLICABILITY TO NONRECIPIENT PRIVATE SCHOOLS.- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect any private school that does not receive funds or services under this Act, nor shall any student who attends a private school that does not receive funds or services under this Act be required to participate in any assessment referenced in this Act.
‘‘(b) APPLICABILITY TO HOME SCHOOLS.-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect a home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, nor shall any student schooled at home be required to participate in any assessment referenced in this Act.
‘‘(c) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON PROHIBITION OF FEDERAL CONTROL OVER NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS.-Nothing in this Act 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 Act.
‘‘(d) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON STATE AND LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY MANDATES.-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require any State educational agency or local educational agency that receives funds under this Act to mandate, direct, or control the curriculum of a private or home school, regardless or whether or not a home school is treated as a private school under state law, nor shall any funds under this Act be used for this purpose.”
We urge Congress to reauthorize this language as it currently appears.
Why section 9506 is important to home schools, private schools, and religious schools
NCLB greatly increased the federal government’s involvement in education, which historically is reserved to the states. Although the federal government’s contribution to education funding only totals around 11% of the total amount spent on education, 1 the states have come to rely on the federal government’s contribution and thus follow the requirements that Congress institutes through legislation.
Home schools, religious schools and private schools that do not receive federal funds should not have to follow any educational regulations instituted by the federal government. Section 9506 recognizes this. It is important to include private schools with home schools in this section because in fourteen states, state law treats home schools as private schools.
These home schools, religious schools and nonrecipient private schools are already regulated under state law. Since they do not receive any federal funds, the federal government has no authority to include them in the regulations that apply to public and private schools that do receive federal funding.
Furthermore, there are concerns that a state or local educational agency could interpret certain provisions in NCLB to mean that the SEA or LEA has the authority to enforce them against a home school, religious schools or nonrecipient private school. This section prohibits an SEA or LEA from interpreting NCLB in this way.
Home school parents and religious and private schools have demonstrated that they are succeeding in successfully educating their students without any regulation by the federal government.2 Section 9506 recognizes this and protects the right of home schoolers, religious schools, and private schools to continue to educate children as they see fit, free of regulation by the federal government.