Homeschoolers may be blindsided by the yearly Defense Authorization Bill, H.R. 1815, now before the House of Representatives. The companion bill in the Senate, S. 1042, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, is reported at the thomas.loc site as, "Latest Major Action: 11/15/2005 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Passed Senate with amendments by Yea-Nay Vote. 98 – 0. Record Vote Number: 326."
The House bill’s progress, so far, is, "Note: On 11/15/2005, the Senate substituted the language of S. 1042, as amended, in H.R. 1815." And "the language" in question, at least concerning homeschoolers?
- SEC. 522. RECRUITMENT AND ENLISTMENT OF HOME SCHOOLED STUDENTS IN THE ARMED FORCES.
- (a) Policy on Recruitment and Enlistment-
- (1) POLICY REQUIRED- The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe a policy on the recruitment and enlistment of home schooled students in the Armed Forces.
- (2) UNIFORMITY ACROSS THE ARMED FORCES- The Secretary shall ensure that the policy prescribed under paragraph (1) applies, to the extent practicable, uniformly across the Armed Forces.
- (b) Elements- The policy under subsection (a) shall include the following:
- (1) An identification of a graduate of home schooling for purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces that is in accordance with the requirements described in subsection (c).
- (2) Provision for the treatment of graduates of home schooling with no practical limit with regard to enlistment eligibility.
- (3) An exemption of graduates of home schooling from the requirement for a secondary school diploma or an equivalent (GED) as a precondition for enlistment in the Armed Forces.
- (c) Home School Graduates- In prescribing the policy, the Secretary of Defense shall prescribe a single set of criteria to be utilized by the Armed Forces in determining whether an individual is a graduate of home schooling. The Secretary concerned shall ensure compliance with education credential coding requirements.
- (d) Secretary Concerned Defined- In this section, the term `Secretary concerned’ has the meaning given such term in section 101(a)(9) of title 10, United States Code
As I blogged in September, no group of military-service-eligible young adults is presently addressed, by name, in current enlistment law. The inclusion of the above language in the Defense Authorization Bill will single out homeschooled graduates (whatever that means — one year of being homeschooled? homeschooled between the ages of 14 and 18? only homeschooled?), separately from the Tier system already in place.
Think of it: criteria to determinine whether an individual is a graduate of home schooling will be compiled according to the findings of the Department of Defense.
- What will the ‘trickle down’ effect from federal to state legislation be?
- How will this affect people homeschooling in the states with non-restrictive homeschooling laws?
- Will state legislators be under pressure to rewrite homeschooling laws to be compatible with language in federal law?
This entire push, beginning with the Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act of 2005, seems to be the means by which a group of people (about whom there is much speculation, but no direct proof), is trying to get around the results of the five-year Tier I pilot program, the information from which was compiled in a report by the Center for Naval Analyses.
The cornerstones of the military are duty, honor and country, and I would think that pro-military advocates would exhibit the same characteristics. That some homeschooling advocates, and apparently cooperative legislators, use legislation to sidestep the (unpleasant-for-homeschoolers) results of an unbiased study, paid-for-with-taxpayer-dollars and which may cost more taxpayer dollars, as well as affecting the lives of recruited homeschoolers, leaves me only with bile rising in my throat because of the paradox of using partisan influence to mask a fixable condition. I am, again, reminded of my father’s mantra during my growing-up years: actions speak louder than words. That phrase seems to be a military attitude with a long heritage.
- General Douglas MacArthur: Thayer Award Acceptance Address
… [T]hese are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
For some homeschooling advocates, knowing when we are weak is not a reason to strengthen that weakness, but is only a reason to bypass that weakness through lobbying for federal legislation — and to slip it into the Defense Authorization Act during a time of international conflict when support for our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins in the military is a national concern.
And, to quote again from General MacArthur:
- Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.
Wrapping a weakness in the flag and in law, instead of fixing the weakness, only winds up putting holes in the flag, and enshrining the weakness in history. If only the homeschooling advocates had the moral character of the people in the service whose ranks they want others to join.