Homeschoolers FYI

December 20, 2005 @ 4:42 am | Filed under: ,

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.

Here’s a good summary of the problems with Section 522.

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.

Mary McCarthy

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.

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10 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Nancy C. Brown says:

    For this and other various earlier reasons (I started homeschooling 11 years ago) I never joined HSLDA. I didn’t really see them as a group that would help me homeschool.
    Perhaps the strongest thing people can do it not join, or not renew.
    I’ve heard that for Catholics, the Catholic League would defend you if there was ever any trouble. And you needn’t “belong.”
    HSLDA is sort of insurance, a “pre-paid legal service.” But only if you agree that what they are doing is right. Otherwise, they are using your money to attend to their own agenda.

  2. Angela says:

    Wow, I’ve never joined HSLD because I never wanted to spend the money for it…so thanks for this info…and who is Mary McCarthy? I’d like to pass along this information to our small homeschool group. Thanks!
    God bless,

  3. Chris says:

    Actually, HSLDA is not like pre-paid legal at all. There is no guarantee of representation with HSLDA. It is more of a Republican PAC that happens to be comprised of Christian homeschoolers.

  4. Nancy C. Brown says:

    Then what is your money for? I thought they would represent you if, let’s say Social Services came knocking on your door wondering why the kids are being deprived of public schooling. If there is no guarantee of representation, I can’t see why anyone would join.

  5. Chris says:

    I’ve never been a member – but the one time I came close to joining I remember the membership form being clear (in the fine print) that there was no guarantee of representation. I’m sure they help many members each year, but I don’t know exactly what their criteria is. I do think the vast majority of help they provide is advice – not legal representation.

    I believe many of their members do think they have legal insurance. Also,I would imagine within some peer groups of Christian homeschoolers joining HSLDA is just a given and nobody questions it.

    Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. My personal opinion is that the need for legal representation is so unlikely that buying protection against it is a poor investment.

  6. Melissa Wiley says:

    My understanding is that if you’re an HSLDA member who needs legal representation for a case involving homeschooling, HSLDA will review the case and IF they agree to represent you, there is no further charge. But as Chris says, there is no guarantee of representation–for example, if you are unschoolers, they would be unlikely to take on the case (whatever the case might be). The circumstances must meet certain criteria determined by HSLDA, and unless I am mistaken, unschooling does not qualify.

  7. Cay says:

    We’ve never registered either. I always preferred to spend my money on new books.

    Has anyone had any problems in their area to the point of needing (or feeling they may need) legal help?

  8. Nancy C. Brown says:

    There is a family near us. I don’t know them well. They have about nine kids, several with special needs, and put one in school for it. He showed up one day a few months ago with a slight scratch below one eye, and the school social worker blew it up into a case. By the afternoon, no mark was visible, but the case was already started.
    People came to the house and interviewed each child seperately. They called HSLDA but I don’t know at that point what happened, and all I do really know is that we’ve been asked to pray.

    I think one of the harms of HSLDA is the impression that once you pay the $100 or so annual, you are safe from all that, but you aren’t.

    And I agree with Chris that for some groups, membership in HSLDA is part of the fee, or a given. I know even our Catholic group has a group discount, which I dislike because it gives tacit approval to an organization I don’t think cares or will represent us well. They are an explicitly Christian/Protestant group, biased that way, as I understand it.

  9. Michele Q. says:

    We’ve never joined HSLDA either (I’m like you Cay, I’d rather spend the money on books!) and we certainly won’t now. It’s interesting about the military status thing. One of my son’s got into the Air Force without anything but a homeschool diploma made by me. All it takes is a motivated recruiter and some creativity. 🙂 Nancy, I’d be interested to find out more about the Catholic League being willing to help Catholic homeschoolers. That’s good information to have.

  10. jackie dunne says:

    My son just joined the army this past summer. He did graduate from a “accredited” homeschool his diploma was thru Our Lady of the Rosary school. His recuiter said if his diploma was not thru an “accredited” school he would have to take more test, but that was the only draw back, so I don’t get the idea of the bill. Trust me if you want in the service and they want you they will make it happen!
    And we were members of HSLDA years back and they did not have to represent you if you didn’t jump thru all the hoops they had lined up for you!