HR 3753, 109th Congress, First Session, 13 September 2005, Home School Non-Discrimination Act of 2005
The bill itself can be found by typing HR 3753 into the search box at the Thomas site provided by the Library of Congress. The link expires so a search needs to be done each time.
In 2003 a similar bill was unilaterally introduced into Congress, just as was the current version, without discussion among homeschoolers. Many homeschooling organizations worked to keep the bill from being passed into law. Points to consider when reading the proposed legislation and the analyses are:
- there is no reference to education in the United States Constitution, it is left to the States and the People according to the Tenth Amendment
- federal sway over public education is managed only through the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution
- federal sway is managed only because states accept federal money
- homeschoolers do not accept federal money
- the question of who will define the terms included in the proposed legislation, especially concerning acceptance either of federal money, or tax breaks
- the question of the status of homeschoolers in states without laws regulating homeschooling, with reference to the language, “pursuant to state law”
Links to 2003 discussions and information, are at the following links. They are listed in order of complexity, and are most easily read when printed out.
- Why all the fuss about HoNDA?
- Say No To The Federal Homeschool Legislation
- Connecticut Homeschool Network HoNDA Analysis
- CHN: College eligibility for homeschoolers; Child Find; Coverdell Savings Accounts; FERPA
The big change in the 2005 version of HoNDA is the useless inclusion of provisions to help homeschoolers enlist in the military. This is a big change, with implications not only for the federalization of homeschooling, but for military readiness and taxpayer concerns nationwide.
In 1998, “HSLDA persuaded Senator Paul Coverdell (R-GA) to introduce an amendment to H.R. 3616 …” This amendment provided for a five-year pilot program to evaluate how well homeschooled ‘graduates’ (not specifically defined) were integrated into the military services as enlisted members. During the study a portion of the homeschooled recruits were granted Tier I status instead of Tier II, which is reserved for recruits with non-traditional diplomas or G.E.D. certificates.
The study was conducted, but the results weren’t what were hoped for. According to the Final Analysis of Evaluation of Homeschool and ChalleNGe Program Recruits, on PDF-page 52, “Although there are good reasons to explore recruiting avenues beyond traditional public high schools, given the attrition rates of homeschoolers compared with other high school diploma graduates, homeschooled recruits seem to be a less desirable recruiting market than was originally thought.”
These results probably do not reflect on the general character of the homeschooled recruits, many of whom have served as well and as honorably as other recruits, but only on the curious fact that public schooling prepares people better for completing a first term of enlistment, and perhaps also re-enlisting. Commissioning as an officer doesn’t come into play regarding homeschooling because a college degree is required for commissioning, and the degree renders the high school record moot for purposes of entering the military.
Completion of a first term of enlistment makes the most of the expense that has gone into housing, feeding, clothing and training each individual. In 1987 dollars, each individual who does not complete that term costs the taxpayer $18,400. Not only is the expenditure lost, but the individual must be replaced with a new trainee. The insistence upon non-traditional diploma holders being classified as Tier II is not a slam at homeschoolers because the Tiers were established before homeschooling became a noticeable trend in American education. (See: Predicting Readiness for Military Service: How Enlistment Standards Are Established)
Despite this information, HSLDA has not only re-introduced the alleged non-discrimination legislation, but has now included military recruitment and enlistment language. HSLDA seems to be trying to get around the results of the study commissioned at its behest by quantifying homeschooling at the federal level, a level that will affect homeschoolers across the nation regardless of their intent to enlist. Once precedent is set in one part of the federal government, it can be used in others.
Specifics either to be granted to, or required of, homeschoolers, according to HR 3753:
- granting Tier I status — the cost in terms of taxpayer dollars, and military readiness, does not justify this.
- granting an exemption of homeschool graduates from any requirement for a secondary school diploma — and why should this be if every non-homeschooled citizen who wishes to join must produce one?
- requiring homeschooled graduates to test at the 50th percentile or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test — and the 50th percentile is what is required of Tier II recruits, so where’s the gain?
- requiring a signed home-school notice of intent form that conforms with state law, or a home-school certificate or diploma — and this squares with the above exemption, how?
- requiring a transcript with enrollment date — and if the family didn’t use a curriculum provider?
- requiring a transcript reflecting “successful completion of the last full academic year, or a certificate or diploma — and again, this squares with the exemption above, how?
- requiring that the curriculum is ‘taught,’ not ‘self-directed’ — which is the current standard held by the military, so where is the gain?
- requiring that the graduate provide a third-party verification letter confirming that the grad was a bona fide homeschooler — and now we get into the treacherous territory of defining who is or is not a homeschooler, with the defining done by a third-party.
If a homeschooled teen who used a self-directed course of study wishes to enlist in the military, the solution is easy: acquire one semester of full-time college (15 credit hours). This is the standard for all citizens, and homeschoolers are no exception. The work-around is in place for citizens who want to serve their country with no additional legislation needed.
The alleged non-discrimination bill was killed the first time around. This time, with the inclusion of the military enlistment language, the paper it is written on should be burnt as well.
Contact your representative, and kill this bill.