Section 522 of HR 1815 poked its head up again. It may be temporarily ‘forgotten,’ but it’s got legs. My colleague, Mary, blogged an update on The status of HR 1815 this morning. The legislation will go to President Bush for his signature, and the chances that Mr. Bush will not sign the Defense Authorization Act for FY 2006, are probably an exponentially large negative number. (do those exist, Daryl?)
Despite the quietness of the introduction of Section 522 into the Defense Authorization Act (which, for new readers, is the push for ending the non-existing discrimination against homeschooled grads by the Armed Services), it has remained an active section. A paragraph has been added:
- (2) A communication plan to ensure that the policy described in subsection (c) is understood by recruiting officials of all the Armed Forces, to include field recruiters at the lowest level of command.
The strange military/homeschooling dance continues with those behind the legislation apparently worried that the troops in the field won’t get the message.
In the late 1990s Congress was lobbied to allow overseas military homeschooled children to use Department of Defense Dependents Schools facilities without having to enroll in the school. Congress complied via the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 , which stated:
- That policy, which would officially implement what DODEA representatives state is actual practice, should specify that home schooled students may be supported with library services, music, sports, single classes, and other programs without having to actually enroll in DODDS.(long document; use Ctrl + F and the terms “Home Schooled”)
In response, the Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA), issued a (now outdated*) policy letter on homeschooling (which, strangely enough, is still quoted in the 2005-2006 Student Eligibility and Enrollment Data Handbook, page 43).
- DoDEA Policy Memorandum, 99-C-001, March 27, 2000″It is the policy of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) to neither encourage nor discourage sponsors from home schooling their minor dependents. DoDEA recognizes that home schooling is a sponsor’s right and can be a legitimate alternative form of education for their dependents.
The DoDEA encompasses both the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) and Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) systems. As a practical matter, a host nation, state, commonwealth, or territory where a DoD sponsor is stationed may impose legal requirements on home schooling practices in lieu of school attendance. DoDEA encourages DoD sponsors who wish to home school their dependents to communicate their desire to the local military community commander to determine if there are any command policies or other rules that ensure that home schooling practices meet host nation, state, commonwealth, or territory requirements.
Upon request, DoDEA shall provide dependents who are home schooled with library services and, consistent with existing regulations and policy [emphasis added], single classes, special education services, and participation in extra-curricular and interscholastic activities such as music and sports programs. Home schoolers who choose to use DoDEA services must complete a registration form. When classes carry prerequisites for admission, verification of competence must also be included.
DoDEA does not provide home schooling materials, such as textbooks, workbooks, software, etc., to DoD sponsors wishing to home school their dependents. Obtaining these materials is the responsibility of the DoD sponsor. However, DoDEA schools will loan material to sponsors if those materials would be helpful to the home school program.”
This policy was not acceptable to those lobbying for un-enrolled access, and H.R. 830 was introduced into Congress, and passed.
- SEC. 2. AVAILABILITY OF AUXILIARY SERVICES OF DEFENSE DEPENDENTS’ EDUCATION SYSTEM FOR DEPENDENTS WHO ARE HOME SCHOOL STUDENTS.Section 1407 of the Defense Dependents’ Education Act of 1978 (20 U.S.C. 926) is amended–
(1) by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (e); and
(2) by inserting after subsection (c) the following new subsection:
(d) AUXILIARY SERVICES AVAILABLE TO HOME SCHOOL STUDENTS- (1) A dependent who is educated in a home school setting, but who is eligible to enroll in a school of the defense dependents’ education system, shall be permitted to use or receive auxiliary services of that school without being required to either enroll in that school or register for a minimum number of courses [emaphasis added] offered by that school.
The kicker, from DoDDS’ point of view, is that DoDDS’ funding from Congress comes only from projected enrollment numbers. There are no property taxes supporting the schools, nor any candy sales, calendar sales, magazine sales, or mass-market catalog sales. Enrollment numbers are the only method of receiving funds.
The kicker, from the point of view of children enrolled in DoDD schools, is that many times the classes the homeschooling parents want their children to attend are “specials.” Art, music, PE and host nation studies (studying the local country) at the elementary level, were classes that seemed to be preferred. At the secondary level, they were perhaps band, drama and sports, although a friend’s enrolled son took an audio-visual class. The “specials” were the first areas on the chopping block when funding was reduced. When we left the theatre of operations in 1999, there were articles in the newspaper about schools closing, and about ”specials” being offered only infrequently at some schools because the “specials” teacher had to be shared among schools in the area. So we have more children using reduced-time classes.
The articles continue, and a development since then has been a shortage of volunteer referees for sports because of increased “operations tempo.”
- 18 December 2005 Fewer students, more multi-age classes for DODDS-Pacific
- 14 December 2005 Three DODDS-Europe schools will stay open after all
- 29 November 2005 Referees are few and far between for many sports in Europe
- 30 October 2005 Low enrollment signals end for Livorno High in Italy
- 6 October 2005 DODDS-Pacific enrollment creeps back to form Japan still has 440 fewer students than projected
- 10 September 2005 DODDS-Europe enrollments going up, but still lower than expected
- 22 June 2005 Search for fairness in after-school funding may lead to cuts in H.S. sports
Homeschoolers who use the schools’ facilities are unwittingly not paying for the service with enrollment numbers. I don’t say this to point fingers, or to accuse, merely to point out a funding reality.
All the commotion about allowing homeschoolers free access to DoDDS programs that enrolled students depend on, is now water under the bridge, but the example of homeschoolers being given preferential treatment only because they are homeschoolers, was set in place years ago.
Section 522, Recruitment and Enlistment of Home Schooled Students in the Armed Forces, may be off the front burner in the everyday world of homeschooling (if it ever was front-burner stuff in Anytown, USA), but you can bet that the implementation of the section will be closely watched and shepherded by those who continue to press for their own version of preferential, not equal, treatment of homeschoolers.