|CAP Team (from L to R): Mike Farris, Chris Klicka, Caleb Kershner, Samuel Redfern, Darcy Faylor, Doug Domenech
In the Beginning
Between 1983 and 1992, most of the battles for home school freedom were fought in the state courts and legislatures. However, with the election of Bill Clinton to the presidency, many home educators were concerned that the new administration would usher in an era of federal threats to home education. In response to this concern, the National Center for Home Education created the Congressional Action Program (CAP) in 1993. The primary mission of CAP is to monitor issues moving through Congress and generate immediate, accurate and consistent responses which express our favor or disfavor. These responses may be in the form of letter-writing campaigns and telephone blitzes to the entire Congress, or communications targeted for key committee members.
|On The Hill: A group of CAP trainees gather in front of the Capitol after a productive morning of lobby training.
Since its founding, CAP has played a crucial role in several key battles for home school freedom. In 1993, CAP was instrumental in defeating a proposal which would have established a federal computerized child registry and tracking program. In 1994, thousands of CAP volunteers contributed to the defeat of the dangerous anti-home school language which was included in the now infamous H.R.6 proposal. Today, CAP continues to successfully lead the charge against intrusive federal government programs that affect American families, and international laws that are contrary to the U.S. Constitution.
Despite the many victories that God has granted to the home school movement, it is clear that many more challenges await us. Home educators must remain vigilant if they want to continue to be able to freely exercise their parental rights. An organized defense of home school freedoms must be maintained. We believe that CAP is crucial to this line of defense. It is more crucial than ever that nothing be allowed to fall between the cracks and that we earn respect for who we are by the manner in which we work.
Home Schooling Freedom
The mission of the Congressional Action Program is limited, but significant. Our goal is to target for action only those federal measures which have a direct impact on home schooling. The right of parents to home educate their children is based on two fundamental principles of liberty: religious freedom and parental rights. Examples of issues that may pose serious threats for the home schooling community include the following:
In addition to responding to federal threats, CAP is working proactively to push for legislation which will clarify the constitutional rights of parents and for measures which will place constitutional limitations on the role of the federal government to regulate education. CAP is lobbying on behalf of home schoolers to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, H.R. 6 of 1999), working to defund Goals 2000, and working to ban National Testing at the federal level.
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Federal attempts to register and track Americas children;
- Corporal punishment restrictions;
- Federal education programs which set standards that could apply to home educators; and
- Measures which grant greater powers to child welfare agencies.
Our approach to this mission is to mount a two-pronged defense of home school liberties:
Defending the Home Educating Family in The Nations CapitalThe first prong of CAP is the army of trained home school volunteers (Capitol Coordinators) who live within commuting distance of the nations Capital and thus can personally appeal to the members of Congress and their staff to make wise legislative decisions on bills which directly affect the freedoms of the home school family.
Defending the Home Educating Family in Grassroots AmericaThe second prong of CAP is the network of volunteers (District Coordinators, one in each of the 435 congressional districts) who can generate calls and letters on very short notice to their United States representative and senators in Congress.
The National Center for Home Education has located mature young people and adults to serve in a volunteer army of home schoolers dedicated to preserving the sanctity of the home against federal legislative attacks. The local volunteers meet four or five times yearly for lobbying forays to Capitol Hill regarding issues of concern to home schooling families. These volunteers are drawn from the ranks of average home school families. The most important credential a home educating family can bring to Washington, DC, is an enthusiastic desire to preserve the blessings of liberty for the American family. The National Center for Home Education recognizes that America was not built by professional politicians or trained lobbyists, but by God-fearing families who were willing to take a stand for righteousness.
As these Capitol Coordinators visit members of Congress to educate them about home schoolers concerns, their strategic clout comes through the ability to generate large numbers of calls and letters from the legislators own constituents, reinforcing what was shared in the office. Politicians understand that talk is cheap, but votes are what really matters. When they see that they are being watched closely and that 100 or more calls are generated in a timely fashion after a visit from a lobbyist, they take notice. Of course, calls thanking them for positive responses are worth their weight in gold, politically speaking.
We need your family to stand in the gap by joining our lobbying forces in Washington, DC. In order to join our lobby team, you must attend a CAP Basic Training for Home School Lobbyists Seminar. Click here for the CAP Lobby Coordinator Application.
To generate grassroots involvement, Congressional District Coordinators have been identified throughout the states. The success of this prong of the program depends on the ability of District Coordinators to activate a well-organized alert network in their congressional district. Our goal is to have a responsible coordinator in each of the 435 congressional districts of America.
By placing a District Coordinator and a alert network in each congressional district, we are able to generate surgical strikes on Congress. For example, bills can often be defeated in committee if there is a strong grassroots reaction from constituents. By targeting key committee members, rather than the whole Congress, we are able to more effectively shut down bad bills before they reach the floor of the House or Senate. Here is how CAP works: When the National Center for Home Education learns of an important, federal home school-related issue deserving of action, we will immediately contact the District Coordinators with action sheets and talking points. The District Coordinators then activate the alert networks. A District Coordinator can build on existing alert networks or start new ones. The alert networks generate large numbers of personal calls from the constituents to each targeted member of Congress. Our effectiveness in Congress hinges on the ability of our District Coordinators to deliver the calls.
Unlike other grassroots movements, which attempt to organize efforts to influence legislation, the home school movement has a well-developed infrastructure already in place. Many state organizations have well-organized and effective political action networks. The goal of the Congressional Action Program is to work closely with and complement the work of the state organizations.
Your family could make a difference in America and influence the United States Congress from your community as a CAP District Coordinator. In addition all district coordinators receive the following benefits.
The Benefits of Being a CAP District CoordinatorNational Center Leaders only access on the web site
$50 discount on HSLDA Membership (no other discounts apply)
Free legislative information and analysis (via e-mail)
Timely legislative alerts (fax and e-mail)
CAP assistance in networking and information on your district
Free congressional directory
Free CAP Legislative Resource Manual.
CAP Lobby packets to assist you in visiting your elected officials.
CAP Media packets to assist you in impacting your local media
CAP events (free training, educational opportunities)
The Home School Legal Defense Association is a team. It goes far beyond our staff and extends into the members and volunteers who support this ministry. We thank you for your prayer and vigilance for faith, family and freedom! Click here for the District Coordinator Application.
Can Home Schoolers
Really Make A Difference?
Absolutely! Legislators can lose faith in the family if they dont hear from Christian 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. The Congressional Action Program attempts to provide parents and mature teenagers with the opportunity to testify of Gods grace in their families before congressional decision-makers and their staffers, and to appeal to these leaders to make wise legislative decisions on bills which affect the freedoms of the home educating family. In the words of Patrick Henry: Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.