Commentary by Michael Smith, President, Homeschool Legal Defense Association
November 13, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Since the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president, HSLDA has received more than a few calls from both members and nonmembers. Some are quite concerned about the future of homeschooling under an Obama presidency.
First of all, let us always remember that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He also instructs us to be wise, plan, and be prepared in everything we do.
Despite HSLDA’s efforts prior to the election to get an official statement from the Obama campaign regarding their position on homeschooling, we received no response.
So where does that leave us?
We do know that the Democratic Party has an official position of supporting public education. The National Education Association (NEA), which is the national teachers union, is a major supporter of the Democratic Party. We know that the NEA’s position is that every child should be either taught by a certified teacher or supervised by one. Additionally, their position is that the curriculum used by all homeschoolers should be approved by the state, and children should only be able to continue to be homeschooled based upon systematic evaluation by the state.
It is important to remember that under the United States Constitution, the federal government has no authority over private and home education. This is not to say that they will not attempt to exercise authority in these areas. And whenever private educators accept grants and benefits, there are conditions to receiving those benefits, including being subject to regulation.
Just because the federal government has no constitutional authority over home education, however, doesn’t mean that federal bureaucrats or legislators might not attempt to impose some form of regulation over private and home education. We saw this back in 1994, when the reauthorization of the Secondary and Elementary Act (H.R. 6) contained an amendment which would have conditioned funding to the states for public education to require that all teachers be certified in every subject area they teach.
The homeschool community rose up; over a million phone calls were made to the U.S. Congress, and the amendment was defeated. During that process, Representative Dick Armey from Texas introduced an amendment which stated that the federal government and Congress have no authority over private and home education. This protective language was passed by the House of Representatives.
With your help and the help of homeschoolers all across America, we will vigorously resist any effort on the part of the federal government to regulate home education. Obviously, this will take resources-which come from our membership-and we would encourage our current members to continue standing with us, and encourage others to join us.
An immediate concern to watch is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although we do not know what Barack Obama’s specific position on the treaty is, we know that future Vice President Joe Biden has publicly indicated that this UN Convention should be ratified by the United States.
It does appear that we will soon have the challenge of keeping the UN Convention from being ratified by the U.S. Senate, ratification requiring a two-thirds majority to pass.
Should the UN Convention be ratified, it would impose the United Nation’s view of children’s rights on America. Under the U.S. Constitution, treaties become the Supreme Law of the land, taking precedent over state laws and state supreme court decisions.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is not in the best interest of parents or children, as it would undermine the parental authority that our laws currently recognize. For further information on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child visit ParentalRights.org.
To summarize, homeschoolers should not live in fear, but we do need to be wise, and we will need to be vigilant to protect parental rights and homeschooling freedoms in the future. We stand prepared, with your help, to do that as we’ve done for 25 years.