Bulletin #48     HONDA  Re-Introduced - Examining Section 4(b)              01/24/06

 

This is the third of a series of bulletins NHELD is preparing detailing, section by section, the exact language of HR3753/S1691, the “Home School Non-Discrimination Act of 2005”, or “HoNDA”, as proposed in the House and Senate.  The bulletins will provide the exact language from the bill, along with the exact text of the existing federal law that the bill proposes to amend.  The bulletins will also include NHELD’s comments on those provisions. The first bulletin was Bulletin #44 - HONDA   Re-Introduced Examining Sections 1, 2 and 3 issued 10/17/2005, and the second bulletin was HONDA   Re-Introduced examining Section 4(a)  issued 01/23/06.

 

NHELD is opposed to passage of any and all parts of this legislation.  NHELD believes the entire bill should be killed and all previous federal laws already adopted having anything to do with the rights of parents to instruct their children at home should be repealed.

 

NHELD believes that there can be no compromises on any federal legislation regarding the rights of parents to instruct their children at home. 

 

NHELD believes all federal legislation regarding the rights of parents to instruct their children at home, no matter how beneficial the legislation appears, is wholly unconstitutional, in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and must be defeated and/or repealed immediately.

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Do you know what Section 4(b) of the HONDA bill does?  Let’s go through it and decipher the substitution language requested.

Section 4 of HR3753/S1691 provides:

“SEC. 4. CLARIFICATION OF PROVISIONS ON INSTITUTIONAL AND STUDENT ELIGIBILITY UNDER THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT OF 1965.

(a) Clarification of Institutional Eligibility- Section 101(a)(1) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)(1)) is amended by inserting `meeting the requirements of section 484(d)(3) or' after `only persons'.

 

(b) Clarification of Student Eligibility- Section 484(d) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(d)) is amended by striking the heading and inserting `Satisfaction of Secondary Education Standards'.”

 

This bulletin examines the second part of Section 4 of the HoNDA bill, subsection (b), and that subsection purports to amend another portion of the Higher Education Act.  That portion is Part F, of Section 484(d) entitled “General Provisions Relating to Student Assistance Programs.”  It is codified in the law as 20 U.S.C. Section 1091(d).  It can be found at:  http://www.access.gpo.gov/uscode/title20/chapter28_subchapteriv_partf_.html and

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+20USC1091

 

 

The portion of 20 U.S.C. Section 1091 as it reads today is reprinted here with the portion to be amended underlined:

       
                        TITLE 20--EDUCATION
 
      CHAPTER 28--HIGHER EDUCATION RESOURCES AND STUDENT ASSISTANCE
 
                    SUBCHAPTER IV--STUDENT ASSISTANCE
 
   Part F--General Provisions Relating to Student Assistance Programs
 
Sec. 1091. Student eligibility
 

As can be seen, if Congress adopts Section 4, subsection (b), of this bill, HR3753/S1691, then only the heading of 20 U.S.C. 1091 would be changed.  The current heading would be stricken and another heading would be put in its place such that the statute would read as follows:

       
                        TITLE 20--EDUCATION
 
      CHAPTER 28--HIGHER EDUCATION RESOURCES AND STUDENT ASSISTANCE
 
                    SUBCHAPTER IV--STUDENT ASSISTANCE
 
   Part F--General Provisions Relating to Student Assistance Programs
 

Sec. 1091. `Satisfaction of Secondary Education Standards'.”

 

Of course, the reasons why only the heading of this law would be changed are not given by the sponsors or promoters of this legislation.  

 

What is NHELD’s opinion of this section of the bill?

 

This is an example of an amendment of a law that already as it exists is clearly unconstitutional and unnecessary.   Students who were educated by their parents at home were always “eligible” to be admitted as college students, and as admitted college students, were always “eligible” for receipt of federal student loans.  As it always does, the federal government placed certain restrictions on students and on the colleges in order to receive federal funding.  A student was required to be attending a college of some kind. The money was to be used strictly for educational expenses and to obtain further federal funds, a student was required to maintain a certain grade point average.  A college was required to admit students who received a “certificate of graduation” or “the recognized equivalent” of such a certificate.  Before very recently, the federal law made no mention of how the student was educated prior to acceptance in the college.  Now with this change, however, it does.  Before, the language in the statutes were sufficiently ambiguous to allow colleges to accept “homeschooled” students based either on what the college deemed appropriate credentials or what the state deemed appropriate.  Since HSLDA’s involvement in the adoption of these new federal laws, the federal law now specifically refers to students as those who have “completed a secondary school education in a home school setting that is treated as a home school or private school under State law.  This phrase now appears in Sec. 1091 d(3) regarding students who are not high school graduates regarding their eligibility for student assistance, as well as in other statutes unrelated to this one.  

 

The problems associated with that language are many.  First, let’s take the phrase, “completed a secondary school education”.  What is a secondary school education?  Is that one that is identical to the curriculum provided in a public school?  If so, is it the curriculum provided in the public school in Connecticut or the public school in Alabama?  Is it the public school in the richest city in the state, or the poorest city in the state?  Who is to determine whether the student has “completed a secondary school education” and how are they to determine it? 

 

What is a “home school setting”?  Is it the “setting” in the home of the parent or is it the “setting” in a “public school at home” setting?  Who will determine whether the child was educated in such a setting?

 

Or, how about the phrase, “that is treated as a home school or private school under State law.”  What does “that is treated” mean? and “treated” by whom? Treated by the local public school superintendent, the principal, the state Department of Education, or the parents? 

 

And what about “treated as a home school or private school”?   What is the definition of a home school?  Is it a definition as yet to be determined by the Congress or the Secretary of Defense (thanks to HSLDA’s insertion of section 591 into hr1815 Defense Bill ), or is it the definition in Texas or the definition in New York?  Similarly, what is the definition of a private school, and whose definition is to be accepted? 

 

Finally, we come to “under State law.”  The plain fact of the matter is that parents in several states instruct their children at home legally but the state law does not talk of “home school” and does not consider what the parents do to be a “private school”.  In other words, the parents in these states instruct their children freely without having any state statute interfere with that right or describe the education as a “home school” or a “private school.”  With all of these differences from state to state, ultimately, the federal government, likely still at the behest of HSLDA, will adopt one definition of “home school” that will apply to all fifty states effectively rendering null and void the state law applicable to the rights of parents to instruct their children at home as it exists now, thanks to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  

 

HSLDA cited the “need” for insertion of language in the federal law regarding the “eligibility” of homeschooled students and the “eligibility” of institutions of higher education and their ability to continue to receive federal funding because certain individuals in a particular college told parents of certain homeschooled children they were not “eligible” to attend that college without a diploma lest the college lose its federal funding. 

 

There were and are other solutions to such a problem. 

(1) Educate those denying access as to what the law actually says or said at the time;

(2) Advocate for less specific language in the law leaving it to the discretion of the institution;

(3) Advocate for language in the law preventing denial of federal funding to institutions that admit homeschooled students; or

(4) Have the homeschooled students being denied access to one institution simply apply to another institution willing to admit homeschooled students.

 

Instead of doing any of these alternatives, HSLDA advocates the insertion, into still more laws, of language directly affecting the rights of parents and students who homeschool.  Even a law that purports to “help” homeschoolers ultimately may, and will, have such consequences as to deny parents their ability to remain free of government interference and/or to affect legislation at the state level that will assist them to remain free.

 

The change in the heading of that portion of the Higher Education Act from “Student Eligibility” to “Satisfaction of Secondary Education Standards” is ominous.  If the federal government is going to provide students with loans and grants, it is quite natural for the government to determine who is eligible for that money.  To change the heading of that section to “Satisfaction of Secondary Education Standards”, one has to ask, does this foretell of more government intervention in the future?  Does this mean that the government will demand that students “satisfy” certain “standards” in their curriculum as homeschooled students before they are able to obtain federal funding?  One also has to ask, why would HSLDA actively promote such a change?

 

Help us defeat this bill and to repeal all other federal statutes that refer in any way to the rights of parents to instruct their children at home.  Distribute this information to others, inform your Congressmen and Senators and ask them to defeat this bill and all others that come before them on these issues.

 

 

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