Bulletin #7 - Federal Involvement in Education            11/11/2003


Did you know:

HSLDA has historically taken the position that Federal Legislation of Education is harmful and illegal.


"The federal role in education is a violation of the 10th amendment of the United States Constitution which states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government delegated the power to regulate or fund elementary or secondary education. "

 -(Jan 12 2000, HSLDA, Why Should Congress Abolish the Federal Role in Education?)


"We have seen that not only is federal involvement in education unconstitutional, but extremely impractical."

 -(Jan 12 2000, HSLDA, Why Should Congress Abolish the Federal Role in Education?)


"The federal government’s involvement in education represents everything that is wrong with so many of our government agencies: they are unconstitutional, wasteful, expensive, and out of touch. It is the duty of our congress to abolish not only the Department of Education, but the entire federal involvement in education. If Congress refuses to do its duty, the bureaucracy will continue to grow, and education will continue to decline."

 -(Jan 12 2000, HSLDA, Why Should Congress Abolish the Federal Role in Education?)


"I emphatically agree that the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate education. I oppose most of the existing federal laws that allow the Washington bureaucrats to drive education policy."

- (Scott Somerville- HSLDA - NHEN Legislative forum - Posted - September 09 2003: 10:32:35 AM)


"One of HSLDA's primary objectives is to establish the right of parents to independently teach their children at home free from government intervention. This is independent private home schooling."

 -(June 26 2002, HSLDA - The Problem with Home-Based Charter Schools)



How come HSLDA has promoted and is currently promoting federal legislation regarding education and homeschooling, when their position has been one of anti-federal legislation?


The very bill that HSLDA helped to craft even states that this bill should not be considered.

"The United States Constitution does not allow Federal control of homeschooling." - (HR 2732/SB1562 - Sec 2 Findings, Number 7 - - proposed federal legislation introduced by Marilyn Musgrave at the behest of HSLDA)


While we recognize that HSLDA may be attempting to resolve certain problems encountered by homeschoolers, we find passage of federal legislation unnecessary and detrimental. We believe that any federal legislation regarding home education effectively implements regulation of homeschooling by the federal government and is wholly unconstitutional.


As HSLDA has pointed out above, we also affirm that the United States Constitution does not allow the federal government to regulate education of any kind. We agree with HSLDA that education is an issue more properly left to the states and to the people, not to the federal government. The tenth amendment to the Constitution plainly states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In other words, if it is not clearly specified in the Constitution that the United States government has the power to do something, and as long as the Constitution does not prohibit the states from utilizing that power, then that power is left up to the States and to the people alone. The Constitution does not specify that the United States government has any power to regulate education of any kind. Consequently, the power to regulate education is left to the States and to the people.

Yes, there are many federal laws attempting to regulate education. However, the primary means that the federal government uses to regulate education is through its power enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The courts have interpreted the Constitution to allow the federal government to give money to the states. So, the federal government, through Congress, adopts a law that, in essence, says, "If states adopt a law that provides for all of the things listed in this federal law, then, only under those conditions, the federal government will give the states money." The states, in turn, wanting the federal money, adopt laws that mirror the federal law. Through the years, this has become so commonplace that often the distinction between the authority of the federal government to regulate and the authority of the state government to regulate is blurred sometimes to extinction. It is also important to note that while Congress may adopt whatever laws it chooses, not all of those laws are constitutional. Far too many of them are not constitutional. However, until and unless the constitutionality of those laws is challenged, they remain in force.


Until recently, most federal laws have not affected the rights of homeschoolers. When the popularity of homeschooling grew in the 1980's, some urged homeschoolers to consider themselves as private schools under state laws. Connecticut homeschoolers rejected that appellation fearing that state governments, already having some laws in place regulating private schools, would include homeschoolers among those regulated. Homeschoolers in other states, however, were persuaded to consider themselves private schools and, for the most part, those homeschoolers are regulated to some extent by their state governments. Still, no homeschoolers were regulated by the federal government, until now.


Please consider that even if states are not forced to create legislation to enact the intent of federal laws that include homeschooling in it's language, this bill is still dangerous for the following reasons:


(A)   When legislation is made nationally we lose control of it. It is far easier to speak with state legislators than with federal congressional leaders. When was the last time you spoke face to face with your state Congressman?

(B)    If there are federal laws regarding homeschooling they will be difficult to amend and difficult to expunge. You have no control over congressional leaders in other states, and precious little input into your own state Congressman's office.

(C)    Dealing with issues affecting homeschoolers is much more manageable on a statewide level. Additionally one can not control the process of making laws in Congress. Can HSLDA guarantee that amendments or other undesirable wording will creep into a congressional bill as it wends its way through Congress?



 Federal legislation of homeschooling is not the way to answer problems homeschoolers face.  HSLDA recognizes it in the documents they have written in the past, and so do we.


Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense.www.nheld.com or email : info@nheld.com

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – imjfaron@sbcglobal.net