J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Advocacy through Legislation: Proactively Preserving Freedom
September 13, 2010
HSLDA is known for its staunch defense of homeschooling families when their individual right to homeschool is threatened by the state. But did you know that as part of its mission to advance the cause of homeschooling, HSLDA’s Legal Department daily monitors legislation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Congress?
During the 2010 sessions, HSLDA’s legislative tracking system scanned the nearly 100,000 bills that were introduced at the state level. Of that 100,000, HSLDA’s legal department flagged close to 6,000 for further review. A team of 12 contact legal assistants and attorneys* carefully reviewed those 6,000 bills and identified 670 to watch closely. Many of those were posted on HSLDA’s website with a synopsis of each bill, HSLDA’s position, and the bill’s current status, which is updated each time the legislature acts on the bill (for an example, see New Hampshire House Bill 1580).
When legislators need to be urged to vote for or against a bill, HSLDA sends an email to its “e-lert” list (175,563 total, for the whole U.S.) asking the recipients to contact key people with a particular message. These e-lerts are frequent throughout the legislative process, and HSLDA appreciates the efforts of so many homeschoolers to communicate with those who represent them. As homeschoolers are calling and emailing their legislators, HSLDA attorneys are strategizing with state homeschool leaders and lawmakers to ensure the best possible outcome for homeschooling families. A teamwork approach is vital for success in legislative battles—HSLDA provides legal advice and insight (sometimes traveling to the state to testify), state homeschool organizations are on the ground, attending hearings and communicating with all relevant parties, and constituents contribute the persuading numbers need to urge a particular vote.
HSLDA’s advocacy also includes hours of legislative work done by its Federal Relations Department, the only lobbying organization for homeschoolers on Capitol Hill. Following a system similar to the Legal Department’s, Federal Relations scanned nearly 9,900 bills, reviewed 488, and tracked 84. This represents hours of labor, especially considering that a federal bill can easily be thousands of pages long.
Though legislative work is tedious and time-consuming, it is a key component to protecting your freedom to homeschool. Good legislation advances and preserves the freedom of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. And when that freedom exists, it protects families from threats against them because of homeschooling.
HSLDA is grateful for its members’ support, without which we would be unable to participate in this important aspect of advocacy. Thank you for standing with us for freedom!
* Family Protection Ministries is our legislative partner in California.
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