Federal Relations

May 20, 2005

Homeschoolers Protected as House Education Committee Reauthorizes Head Start

On May 18, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved legislation that would introduce greater competition into the federal Head Start early childhood program. The bill, the School Readiness Act of 2005 (House Resolution 2123), was approved by a vote of 48-0.

HSLDA does not support federal involvement in education - especially involvement in early education. However, since this legislation will eventually become law it is important that homeschooling families are protected. We are particularly concerned about any federal law that would impose mandates on states in the area of early childhood education. States must have the freedom to choose what early education programs, if any, they implement.

HSLDA worked closely with the House Education Committee staff to ensure that this legislation would not adversely affect homeschooling families. We are pleased to report that the following language was added to H.R. 2123 which will ensure that no state misinterprets the School Readiness Act to require mandatory early education programs or as a method to lower the compulsory attendance age.

The language reads:

"Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to require a State to establish a program of early education for children in the State, to require any child to participate in a program of early education, to attend school, or to participate in any initial screening prior to participation in such program."

"We are grateful that Chairman Boehner worked with HSLDA to make sure states do not use Head Start programs as a vehicle to change compulsory attendance laws," said Caleb Kershner, Manager of Federal Policy and Research for HSLDA. "This is important because parents and not the government should choose when their child is ready to begin their formal education."

HSLDA will continue to monitor legislation which could affect homeschool freedom.