A major homeschooling organization has come out against the United States Senate Education Committee’s decision to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
Home School Legal Defense Association released a report on Tuesday saying that the reauthorization bill could give too much power to the federal government in determining education standards.
The report, authored by HSLDA staff attorney William A. Estrada and Congressional Action Program Director Melanie P. Palazzo, described the possible situation should the reauthorization become law.
“Mandating that each state have aligned standards with aligned coursework will guarantee the creation of national academic standards, national curriculum, and national testing,” reads the report.
“We believe this will result in the eventual requirement that homeschoolers use these national standards, curriculum, and testing.”
In an interview with The Christian Post, Estrada mentioned a 2009 study that showed homeschooled students academically excel regardless of the level of government regulation in their state.
“This illustrates a crucial point: homeschoolers do not need government regulation in order to succeed,” said Estrada.
“Because of this, we oppose any attempts to increase government regulation over homeschooling at the state or federal level, and are constantly at work to make home schooling more free of government regulation.”
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. There are at present no federal regulations on the practice. However, each state has its own laws regarding home-based education.
Estrada told CP the reason groups like HSLDA oppose federal regulations over constitutional and freedom issues.
“The federal government does not have the power to be involved in education,” Estrada contended, saying that due to constitutional restrictions federal influence has largely restricted schools it sends funds to.
Estrada also stated that if national standards were implemented it could decrease academic freedom for private schools and homeschools alike.
“The more of a centralized education you have, the less freedom,” he said.
The 868-page bill includes a provision meant to exempt homeschools from components of the reauthorization in Section 9506, under “Uniform Provisions.”
This is not the first reauthorization to draw controversy over the issue of homeschooling. In 1994, homeschooling proponents protested an amendment to H.R. 6 that would have mandated that all teachers be certified by an educational agency. Eventually an amendment was passed exempting private and homeschools from this requirement.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was last reauthorized in 2002 when President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law.
In March 2010, President Barack Obama announced plans to overhaul NCLB by increasing standards and making educational opportunities more accessible to students.
“We must raise the expectations for our students, for our schools, and for ourselves – this must be a national priority,” said Obama in a letter available on the Department of Education’s website.
“I look forward to working with the Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act so that it will help to provide America's students with the world class education they need and deserve.”
The reauthorization was approved in Senate Committee. The committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Nov. 8.