J. Michael Smith, Esq.
President

Michael P. Farris, JD, LLM
Chairman

Calls Needed to Oppose the U.S. Senate’s Big-Government Education Bill

William A. Estrada, Esq.
HSLDA Federal Relations

Melanie P. Palazzo
Congressional Action Program Director

November 1, 2011

Introduction

The U.S. Senate Education Committee has decided to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). This massive federal education bill was last reauthorized in 2001 as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

HSLDA’s federal relations staff have read this 868-page bill, and we believe that while it does not directly impact homeschool freedom, the bill will 1) increase the federal role in education at the expense of state, local, and parental control, and 2) will greatly increase the pressure on states to align their curriculum and standards, resulting in de facto national education standards.

Urgent Calls Needed to Senate Education Committee

The Senate Education Committee has already voted this ESEA bill out of committee, but at the urging of Senator Rand Paul (KY) the committee will hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday, November 8. If either of your senators are on the Education Committee, HSLDA urges you to call with the following message:

“I am concerned that the ESEA reauthorization bill scheduled for a committee hearing next Tuesday will greatly increase the federal government’s control over education. As a homeschooler, I understand that parents—not federal education officials—are best suited to make educational choices for their children. Please oppose attempts to increase national control over education.”

Senate Education Committee Members

Tom Harkin (IA) 202-224-3254
Barbara Mikulski (MD) 202-224-4654
Jeff Bingaman (NM) 202-224-5521
Patty Murray (WA) 202-224-2621
Bernard Sanders (VT) 202-224-5141
Robert Casey (PA) 202-224-6324
Kay Hagan (NC) 202-224-6342
Jeff Merkley (OR) 202-224-3753
Al Franken (MN) 202-224-5641
Michael Bennet (CO) 202-224-5852
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) 202-224-2921
Richard Blumenthal (CT) 202-224-2823
Michael Enzi (WY) 202-224-3424
Lamar Alexander (TN) 202-224-4944
Richard Burr (NC) 202-224-3154
Johnny Isakson (GA) 202-224-3643
Rand Paul (KY) 202-224-4343
Orrin Hatch (Utah) 202-224-5251
John McCain (AZ) 202-224-2235
Pat Roberts (KS) 202-224-4774
Lisa Murkowski (AK) 202-224-6665
Mark Kirk (IL) 202-224-2854

You may identify and contact your two U.S. senators using HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.

Senators Paul, Richard Burr (NC), and Orrin Hatch (UT) share our concerns about this bill and should be thanked.

Background

In 2001, Congress passed NCLB. While HSLDA was neutral on this bill because it included strongly written protections for homeschoolers, and prohibitions on federal funding for national teacher certification, national standards, national testing, and national databases, NCLB also greatly increased the federal government’s role in education.

A decade later, nearly all education policy makers agree that NCLB is too inflexible. HSLDA believes this illustrates that the federal government should not be in the business of establishing education policy for the nation’s schoolchildren.

This past month, the U.S. Senate has been working on reauthorizing NCLB. HSLDA is concerned the Senate’s bill continues the failed “Washington-knows-best, one-size-fits-all” approach that was widely criticized in NCLB. In addition, one provision in the Senate’s bill mandates that any state taking federal funds must put in place “College and Career Ready Aligned Standards.” Mandating that each state have aligned standards with aligned coursework will guarantee the creation of national academic standards, national curriculum, and national testing. We believe this will result in the eventual requirement that homeschoolers use these national standards, curriculum, and testing.

For more about HSLDA’s concerns read “The Danger of National Standards” and “Nationalized Education Standards—an Update for Home Educators.”

You may also read HSLDA’s legislative summary.

It is still unclear at this point whether homeschool protections will stay in the Senate’s education bill, but even if they do, the trend of national standards could lead to homeschoolers losing the freedom to choose the curriculum for their children. For these reasons, HSLDA is urging opposition to the Senate’s ESEA reauthorization legislation.

 Other Resources

Morning Bell: The Backdoor Attempt to Rewrite No Child Left Behind

With Waivers, National Standards Anything but Voluntary

State-Based Reform, Not National Standards, Key to Better Education

Senate No Child Left Behind Proposal: More Big Government for Schools

Splitting Hairs on the Cadaver