May 8, 2001

Senate, House Resume Education Debates
An Update from Capitol Hill

Senate Update

The full Senate has resumed debate on S. 1—the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which includes many of President Bush's education initiatives. Senate staff negotiators have indicated to HSLDA that they will be attempting to add our amendments to the Senate version of the bill.

HSLDA is working to include a number of provisions in S. 1 including:

1. Strengthening the Home School Protection

Section 12 of the bill currently contains home school protection language that applies only to the ESEA itself. HSLDA is trying to add the words "or any other act administered by the Department" to broaden this protection.

2. Protecting Home Schools from State Assessments

HSLDA is trying to add the following amendment to the bill:

"Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect private or home schools, whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or private school under state law, nor shall any home school or private school student be required to participate in any state assessment if the state or local education agency receives funds under this Act."

3. States should be allowed to use an alternative to NAEP as their secondary public school assessment and Congress should prohibit the development of a national test.

The Senate version only allows the use of NAEP (the National Assessment of Educational Progress) as the secondary snapshot test. HSLDA is concerned that this test is the most likely to become a national test and therefore we have asked that the Senate allow states to choose a different test.

HSLDA has also asked that the Senate include language already in the House version to prohibit the "development, pilot testing, field testing, implementation, administration or distribution in any way for any federally sponsored national test in reading, mathematics, or any other subject."

Finally, we have also asked the Senate to include prohibitions against a national curriculum, mandatory teacher testing or certification, and development of a national database of personally identifiable information.

If we are unsuccessful in adding the amendments, home schoolers nationwide should be on the alert. We may have to wage a major battle on the Senate floor.

House Update

Meanwhile in the House, the Education and the Workforce Committee continues to markup H.R. 1, their version of the ESEA reauthorization.

Just last Thursday, the Committee unanimously passed an amendment, drafted by HSLDA, that changed two sections of the bill by adding important protections for home schoolers. [More...]

Also last week, a number of conservative and family organizations signed their name to a list distributed by the conservative Republican Study Committee. These groups oppose the H.R. 1 since "all private school choice was voted out of the Chairman's Mark" and a flexibility section called Straight A's was dropped.

These groups include:

  1. Focus on the Family
  2. Dr. James Dobson
  3. Family Research Council (FRC)
  4. Concerned Women For America (CWA)
  5. Eagle Forum
  6. America Family Association (AFA)
  7. Independent Women's Forum
  8. Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE)
  9. Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education
  10. Traditional Values Coalition (TVC)
  11. Free Congress Foundation
  12. Education Policy Institute
  13. American Association of Christian Schools (AACS)
  14. People Advancing Christian Education (PACE)
  15. Association of Christian Schools International
  16. Lexington Institute
  17. Coalitions for America
  18. 60 Plus
  19. Janet Parshall with Janet Parshall's America
  20. Family First of Nebraska
  21. Family Foundation of Kentucky
  22. New Jersey Family Policy Council
  23. Louisiana Family Forum
  24. Pennsylvania Family Institute
  25. Rocky Mountain Family Council (CO)
  26. Free Market Foundation (TX)
  27. Christian Civic League of Maine
  28. South Dakota Family Policy Council
  29. Association of Maryland Families
  30. Cornerstone Policy Research

In addition, the Heritage Foundation expressed profound reservations regarding the loss of Straight A's and other meaningful reforms in a memo dated May 3, 2001.

While HSLDA is pleased that home school protections were added to H.R. 1, we agree with these organizations that many of the provisions in President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education plan have been cut.

"We just do not have enough Republican or Democrat votes to get the president's plan out of committee," a House staff member told HSLDA.

 Other Resources

More information on H.R. 1.