Home School Legal Defense Association

J. Michael Smith, Esq.

Michael P. Farris, Esq.

Volunteer Service Legislation and Homeschool Freedom

April 2, 2009

HSLDA has received numerous calls about the Serve America Act (H.R. 1388 and S. 277), which recently passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and which is on its way to the president’s desk.

HSLDA has reviewed H.R. 1388, and there is nothing in the bill as passed by both the House and Senate that would threaten the freedom of homeschool families, whether or not they live in states that treat homeschooling as a private school or as a homeschool. While the original version of H.R. 1388 contained a mandatory service requirement for public school curricula, the bill as passed does not mandate any volunteer service for public or private schools.

Even though the bill does not mandate any volunteer service, many people are still concerned that the federal government is expanding funding and involvement in volunteer service. It is quite likely that schools or individuals which accept the federal money that will be available for volunteer activities because of H.R. 1388 would also be required to comply with additional federal regulations concerning how the money is used.

Another bill that has also been introduced regarding volunteer service is H.R. 1444. This bill would establish a commission made up of four congressional Democrats and four congressional Republicans to study how to improve and promote volunteerism and national service, and to make recommendations to Congress.

HSLDA has several concerns with H.R. 1444. Although it will only create a commission to research volunteer service, the commission would be tasked with determining “whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed.” Most parents would be very concerned if their children would be required by the government to volunteer their time. And such a requirement—if it ever became law—would completely defeat the voluntary nature of this type of service.

H.R. 1444 is currently in the House Education and Labor Committee and no hearings have been scheduled. It is doubtful that Congress would actually force every young person in the United States to volunteer whether they wanted to or not, but HSLDA will closely monitor this bill and will provide updates and action items if Congress attempts to take any action.

We encourage parents to read H.R. 1444 and to contact their U.S. senators and representative with their concerns. Contact information for your federal representatives is available at HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.

For more information, please contact HSLDA's Federal Relations department at 540-338-5600, or federalrelations@hslda.org.

 Other Resources

Read the text of H.R. 1444 >>