I was a member of HSLDA for our first year as registered homeschoolers in New York. As I became more aware of what the organization advocated, however, I grew uncomfortable and did not renew the following year. Since then, I’ve watched with a nervous eye as HSLDA worked hard to promote causes that don’t seem to be in the best interests of all homeschoolers. Section 522 of H.R. 1815 is the most troubling of these “causes.” In case you haven’t been following, here’s the nutshell version: HSLDA wants to make sure that home educated students are given the same status and consideration by military recruiters as public or private school graduates. Fair enough, but in pursuit of this goal HSLDA movers & shakers have worked with congressmen to include language on the subject in a federal bill. FEDERAL, see? Right now, home education is overseen by individual states. House Resolution 1815 includes language about home school graduates. This is bound to lead to the federal government finding it necessary to define what constitutes a “home school graduate.” Suppose their definition is not the same as yours? It is entirely possible that over time, this bill will lead to infringements of our freedom as home-educating parents to choose the curriculum, courses of study, and educational methods we believe best for our children. This bill is a doorway to big government involvement in our private choices.
So I’m asking my readers to study up on the matter, think it through carefully, and make phone calls and write letters if, upon consideration, you agree that this is a cause worth fighting. Unfortunately, it may already be too late to fight the bill, but you can certainly let HSLDA know your opinions on the matter, and your senators and representatives as well.
Mary McCarthy’s Open Letter to HSLDA’s Membership is helpful:
I have always felt that HSLDA has a right to exist, and if that’s what you want to spend your money on, I’m happy you have the financial means to do so. However, recent events have caused me to re-think my position. I was wrong to think that because I was not a member HSLDA did not affect me.
When HSLDA re-introduced their HoNDA legislation in the US House and Senate, they added a section related to the recruitment and enlistment of homeschool graduates to it. When it appeared HoNDA was stalled in committee they requested Senator Rick Santorum of PA to add a section that would give the Secretary of Defense the authority to identify for the purposes of recruitment and enlistment homeschool graduates to The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006.
Scott Somerville of HSLDA recently wrote, “IF we fail in our effort to get section 522 signed into law, we’ll try something else, but we won’t give up. It’s been seven years already; it may be seven more years before we feel like homeschool grads have a level path to military service.”
There is a lot to think about in those two arrogant sentences. HSLDA will not give up trying to push federal legislation into law that affects MY child. That’s personal. That has nothing to do with a Christian’s right to homeschool their children, something I would be first in line to protect. It’s an attempt to target my child for recruitment and enlistment in the United States Armed Forces by a group of self-appointed, fundamentalist Christians pursuing an agenda they have determined to be part of their personal religion. Of course, they have a right, as individual Americans and as a lobbying organization, to do so. But I also have a right – as well as a responsibility – to protect my child from overly zealous political actions. That is the reason we have ELECTED representation, so the people can decide whether they want their children targeted by military recruiters or not. In a representative government, it’s not the purview of a handful of zealots to make any decision for my family.
Section 522 does not delineate between `homeschool students’ and `homeschool students whose parents are members of HSLDA’. This is personal and oversteps the bounds of representing a paid membership by an advocacy organization. It will affect every homeschool student/family in America, HSLDA member or not. HSLDA could not operate without the dues of its membership. It is what pays the salaries, builds the buildings, and – yes – funds the lobbying. Membership dues are funding the effort to identify for purposes of recruitment and enlistment MY child. Membership dues are funding the proposal which will give the United States Secretary of Defense the authorization to define what a homeschool graduate is. The members of HSLDA are ultimately responsible for the actions HSLDA and its paid agents take.
I cannot influence HSLDA decisions because I am not a member, so I have to plead my case to the members. Therefore, I do not think it unreasonable to respectfully request HSLDA’s members accept responsibility for the actions of their paid representatives and use their checkbooks to take back the power they have ceded to HSLDA. YOU have the power. I know many of you, and I know you are good, responsible parents who will `do the right thing’. Thank you.
Here’s the current status of H.R. 1815, from Mary Nix at HEM Support Groups:
The conference report was agreed to in House late on 2/19/05.
The Status: On agreeing to the conference report Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 374 – 41 (Roll no. 665).
I phoned Sen. Warner’s office and they confirmed that the section pertaining to homeschoolers, 522, remained in the bill and if the senate approves the report, it will become law.
I’ll post more information as it becomes available.