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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Congressional Action Program?
In 1992, Mike Farris, then-president of HSLDA’s National Center for Home Education created the Congressional Action Program (CAP). CAP was very successful through the 1990s and early 2000s. Due to lack of necessity, this program was gradually phased out in the last few years. In early 2007, HSLDA President Mike Smith and HSLDA’s Director of Federal Relations Will Estrada decided to reinstitute CAP to prepare for threats against homeschooling. CAP’s renewed purpose is to monitor issues moving through Congress and generate immediate and accurate responses that express homeschoolers’ support or opposition. When a certain piece of legislation requires a response, CAP will take action through personal visits to the entire Congress or to targeted committee members.
What issues does CAP act upon?
The mission of CAP is limited, but significant. Our goal for action is to target only those federal measures that in some way affect home schooling. For example, issues we regularly face include:
- Upholding parental rights;
- Restoring religious & educational freedoms;
- Reducing federal control in education;
- Prohibiting national tracking systems; and
- Fighting home school discrimination.
How does CAP Work?
Unlike other grassroots movements, which must create organized efforts to influence federal legislation, the homeschool movement has a well-developed infrastructure already in place. Many state organizations already operate active state political action systems. Over 100,000 HSLDA members and friends are signed up to receive instant e-mail alerts about threats to homeschooling freedom. The goal of CAP is to work closely with and complement these assets to act on federal issues by bringing homeschool families into direct lobbying contact with elected senators and representatives. This is performed through the work of trained Congressional Action Program Lobbyists and their families.
What is a Congressional Action Program Lobbyist?
Congressional Action Program Lobbyists are an army of trained lobbyists who live within commuting distance of the nation’s Capitol and thus can personally appeal to the members of Congress and their staff to make wise legislative decisions on bills that directly affect the freedoms of the home school family. These volunteers—consisting of all ages—are drawn from the ranks of the average homeschool family.
What does CAP do for me?
CAP works on behalf of families and individuals by speaking as one voice to Congress, both in opposition and in support of legislation that will affect homeschooling. HSLDA and CAP in turn inform homeschoolers of the latest news with suggested action to take. Whether or not you choose to be actively involved as a CAP volunteer, because of other CAP volunteers you will always be able to find up-to-date information on legislation that concerns you and your homeschooling.
Has CAP been successful in the past?
Yes. Between Capitol Lobby Coordinators personally visiting congressional offices and our Congressional Staff Training day CAP has built an impressive track record. Some of these victories include:
- Defeat of Mandatory National Vaccination Initiative1993
- Passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act1993
- Defeat of Mandatory Teacher Certification in H.R. 61994
- Halt of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child1995
- Defeat of the National ID Card1996
- Halt of President Clinton's National Standardized Test1997
- Defeat of Dangerous Commerce Provision in RLPA1998
- Homeschool Exemptions from Federal Control2001
- CAP re-institutedJanuary 2007
- Byrd Scholarship Opened up to Homeschoolers2008
What do others involved with CAP have to say about the program?
"While family and ministry are top priorities, being responsible citizens has become increasingly important as well. Over the past several years, a new awareness of the erosion of our freedoms has made us desire to do more than just vote. The Congressional Action Program has given us many wonderful opportunities to lobby for the continuing freedoms of homeschooling families in our nation." (The Rhen family, Maryland)
"Two of the lessons that we have learned through CAP are that the average Joe' really can and does make a difference; and a strong family unity displayed during a visit goes a long way. There are many opportunities in a congressional meeting to break the typical stereotyped idea that this country seems to have about home schoolers. So, the next time that a legislative aide hears about home educators, our example could be what he thinks of." (The Hoffman family, Virginia)
Who can become involved with CAP?
Any interested family, single adult, or mature young people who live within commuting distance of our nation's capitol. The Congressional Action Program is a team. It goes far beyond our staff and extends into the members and volunteers who support this program and the Home School Legal Defense Association ministry.
How can I learn more about lobbying?
In the past HSLDA has held CAP lobbyist training every 1-2 years. For more information on lobbying for HSLDA and upcoming lobby training days, please contact CAP at HSLDA by phone: 540-338-5600 or email: CAP@hslda.org.
Can homeschoolers really make a difference?
Absolutely! Legislators can lose faith in the family if they don’t hear from homeschooling families who are committed to excellence. Leaders in Washington are constantly inundated with reports of the failure of the American home by anti-family activists. Our desire is to present these leaders with the refreshing perspective of the Christian home-educating family.
CAP has experienced great victories, including defeating a bill mandating teacher certification, legislation establishing a National ID card, mandatory national vaccinations, and much, much more. Without the many CAP families and volunteers who lobby and help spread the word to other home schoolers, CAP would have a much smaller voice in Washington, DC. With each additional CAP volunteer we strengthen our voice and we cannot be ignored.
How can I become involved with CAP?
Fill out an online application by clicking here. Or contact CAP at: CAP@hslda.org, or by phone: 540-338-5600.
How can I learn more about CAP?
Call or write the National Center for Home Education and Congressional Action Program at: 540-338-5600, P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134 or CAP@hslda.org.
How can I learn about upcoming CAP events?
Check back routinely for updates on the CAP web page, or contact CAP by phone or email: 540-338-5600 or CAP@hslda.org.