H.R. 610: “Choices in Education Act of 2017”

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Last Updated: 01/27/2017
H.R. 610: “Choices in Education Act of 2017”
Sponsors:
Rep. Steve King (IA-4) Rep. Andy Harris (MD-1) Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-8)*
Summary:

This bill would repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It would also mandate that federal dollars for education be sent to states via block grants in proportion to the school aged population in each state. These federal dollars would be distributed by states by a voucher system, which student’s families could use for educational expenses at the school or their choice.

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.

HSLDA Strongly Opposes this bill and will score against it.

Action Requested:

Please call the offices of Rep. Steve King and Rep. Andy Harris and communicate that you wish them to remove their support from the bill.

Status:

Introduced: 01/27/2017
Assigned to House Committee on Ways and Means
Assigned to House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Background:

Though well-intentioned, this bill is ultimately ill-advised. It calls for sending all federal education dollars to the states in the forms of federal grants so that the states can then give the money as vouchers to public, private, and homeschool students.

Even though the vouchers created by H.R. 610 would be voluntary, we believe that this would be a slippery slope toward more federal involvement and control in homeschooling.

Dangers of H.R. 610

 

  1. Elimination of language protecting homeschool freedom in U.S. Code: This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in its entirety. While a good idea in theory, this full repeal would also eliminate HSLDA’s language fully protecting homeschool freedom from all federal control as seen in 20 U.S.C § 7886.
     
  2. Creation of a dangerous and unconstitutional precedent for federal involvement in homeschooling: It is not only unnecessary, but is unconstitutional for the federal government to be determining and dictating to the states whether or not homeschooling is legal.
     
  3. States would need to track homeschooling students: Numerous provisions in H.R. 610 require states to count the number of eligible students in their state. This will require homeschooling families in all 50 states to register with the local school district, a dramatic increase in government oversight.
     
  4. The government would now get to decide what homeschooling looks like: This bill states the government would need to determine what represent legitimate homeschool expenses and how much a homeschool program should cost. This clearly violates the main tenant of homeschooling, namely, parents know better than government what it takes to effectively teach their children.

 

*Note: While Rep. Trent Franks (AZ) is also listed as a cosponsor of H.R. 610, we talked with him and his staff and they agree with our concerns about homeschooling families being included in H.R. 610. As a result, there is no need to contact his office, and we are deeply grateful to him for his commitment to protecting homeschool freedom from “help” by the federal government. Here is the statement Franks gave us: “I understand the concerns of the homeschool community. My support for the bill only extends to vouchers for public school and private school students. If this bill moves forward, I would request that any language that would impose vouchers upon homeschools is taken out.”

 Other Resources

Bill Text

HSLDA Policy Paper: “Reasons Home Schoolers should Avoid Government Vouchers”

Visit HSLDA’s article regarding H.R. 610