Homeschoolers overcome feds’ power grab
In addition to concerned parents contacting the United States Department of Education (DOE) to oppose the power grab, attorneys with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) submitted a letter to the DOE demanding that officials drop their attempt to collect information on homeschooled migratory students.
After more than two years of waiting, the DOE finally caved in and let go of its attempted power grab.
“[The public comments [of homeschool parents] won the day,” HSLDA announced last week. “On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released its final regulations regarding data collection for this demographic — and homeschoolers were exempted.”
Give an inch, take a mile
HSLDA Director of Federal Relations William Estrada, Esq., used an old Bedouin proverb to describe the dilemma parents faced before their recent victory against the DOE.
“If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow,” the proverb recited by Estrada states.
He then explained the matter further.
“This cautionary adage illustrates HSLDA’s philosophy when dealing with the federal government,” the legal expert impressed. “Allowing Washington a foothold in homeschooling would only lead to more and more federal control over homeschool families.”
Estrada went on the describe the attempted government takeover that would have severely limited the freedom of education of homeschoolers across the country.
“Two-and-a-half years ago, the federal Department of Education attempted to gain such a foothold through proposed rules aimed at tracking migratory students,” the pro-family advocate recounted. “While the Department of Education has long assisted local public schools with providing support to migratory students, the proposed regulation also required the collection of data on migratory students who are homeschooled.”
He then clarified that those falling under the category of migratory students covered a wider range of homeschoolers than many might think.
“This would have permitted prying into the lives of a diverse set of families,” Estrada pointed out. “Though migrants are often associated with seasonal farm workers, the truth is that families travel for a variety of reasons — military deployments, construction and other contract jobs, and even specialty occupatons such as acting and athletics. Homeschooling allows these families to stay together while their children pursue an education.”
Dodging a bullet
Not giving in to the DOE and claiming victory over its intrusive attempt to attain personal and confidential information from homeschool families, HSLDA and its members consider the public schools’ rejected demand for data a monumental step forward for parental rights.
“While the final regulations do allow local public schools to request data on migratory families from private schools and homeschools, they also acknowledge that homeschool families are sovereign over their children’s information,” Estrada informed.
He proceeded to clear up any misperceptions people might have on the issue.
“Many commenters objected to the proposal to include in MSIX [the migratory student records database] the records of migratory children who attend home schools or private schools,” Estrada continued. “[W]e recognize that SEAs [State Education Associations] do not exercise the same kind of authority over private and home schools that they exercise over local educational agencies (LEAs) and public schools in their States. . . . We did not intend to suggest that an SEA could or should require a private school or home school to provide these records for uploading into MSIX. . . . If a parent does not want his or her child to participate in the MEP [Migrant Education Program] for any reason, neither the school nor the parent (or emancipated youth) must provide the child’s information to the SEA, and the SEA has no further responsibility to seek the child’s records.”
Prior legal victories paved the road for HSLDA and homeschool parents to retain the freedom to teach their own the way they — and not the state — see fit.
“Ultimately, this victory was possible because of an amendment that HSLDA first lobbied to have put into federal law in 1994, which was then strengthened in 2001’s No Child Left Behind Act,” Estrada informed. “We battled to ensure it was again included when Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act last year.”
He assures families who homeschool or send their children to private schools that the law is on their side when it comes to keeping the government from overstepping its boundaries in education.
“This amendment, codified at 20 U.S. Code § 7886, fully exempts from federal regulation or control any homeschools or private schools that do not receive federal funds,” Estrada stressed.
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