Congress Introduces Homeschool Non-Discrimination Bill
- Thursday, July 17, 2003
On July 15, Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) introduced the Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act (HONDA). HONDA will bring federal law up-to-date with changes in the state education systems, particularly regarding the homeschooling movement.
"Our Constitution does not allow federal control over homeschooling, but there are many federal laws written for the public school environment that impact home education," said Mike Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). "These laws are in need of clarification."
There are currently several areas of federal law that unfairly impact home education. Congress must pass HONDA to remedy this unfair treatment. Many of these problems arise because Congress has overlooked homeschoolers while drafting legislation. Yet the number of homeschool students has grown to approximately two million students and their academic success is remarkable. Congress should no longer overlook homeschoolers as a viable and successful movement.
Homeschoolers often find themselves in unusual situations. For example, many college-bound homeschoolers have been denied college admission due to confusion about federal financial aid programs. Many colleges feel they are forbidden to admit homeschoolers because homeschooled students do not have state-issued diplomas. HONDA will correct this and other anomalies in the law. It contains a strong recognition of the value of homeschooling.
HONDA will allow parents to utilize federal education savings accounts for their homeschool expenses, and allow homeschool eligibility for Byrd college scholarships. Federal privacy law is extended to include homeschool records, which some states require the public schools keep.
HONDA also permits older homeschooled teens to work during traditional school hours. (Currently, federal law does not allow a student to work during school hours.) This is an unfair restriction on homeschoolers, as traditional school hours have little relevance in a homeschool setting. This is a real limitation on the homeschool teen who would like to save for college by, for example, working the lunch shift at the local fast-food restaurant.
Further, HONDA would address forced evaluations under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). A Missouri family is currently in court fighting a decision by the state to force their homeschooled child to undergo an evaluation under IDEA, even though the family does not want, nor is even eligible for, the services which could be provided. HONDA makes it clear that IDEA does not require evaluations if a parent refuses services.
"We fully support HONDA," said Tom Washburne, director of HSLDA's National Center for Home Education. "Homeschooling is here to stay and it is time that federal law came up to speed."
Visit HSLDA at www.hslda.org.
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