ISSUE ANALYSIS

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
April 6, 2001

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
An Initial Overview of the House Bill

Both the House and Senate have introduced bills in response to the President's education proposal, "No Child Left Behind." These bills are designed to reauthorize the massive Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) Act.

The purpose of this paper is to talk about the details of the House version as it has been introduced, and how it may affect home schoolers.

House Action

On March 22, 2001, the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced H.R.1, their version of the Bush plan called the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001."

H.R. 1 would reauthorize all programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) through fiscal 2006. The 1965 law authorizes most federal elementary and secondary education initiatives, including Title I funding to help disadvantaged students, professional development for teachers, funding to states for innovative strategies, safe and drug-free schools programs, and education technology programs.

It is expected that the Committee will mark-up the bill after the April recess.

Issues of Interest in of H.R. 1 for Home Schoolers

HSLDA is lobbying for amendments to the Committee bill that will strengthen the protections for home schoolers and minimize any threats that may impact on our freedom.

We are pleased to see, however, that a number of issues we targeted in our legislative agenda are included in the base bill.

  1. Home School Protections: Although slightly modified, the latest (and strongest) version of our home school protection language is included in the bill.

    Section 8511 reads, "Nothing in this Act or any other Act administered by the Department shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any Federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school under state law. This section shall not be construed to bar private, religious, or home schools from participation in programs or services under this Act or any other Act administered by the Department."

  2. Goals 2000: H.R. 1 deletes all references to the National Education Goals and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. In fact the bill specifically repeals certain titles of Goals 2000: Title II, Part A (National Education Goals Panel); Title II, Part C (Goals Panel Authorization); and Title VI (International Education).

  3. Annual Testing: While we have lobbied to remove the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from the options as the state "audit," HSLDA is pleased that the Committee has included language that allows states to choose "another assessment" than the NAEP.

  4. Hate Crimes: H.R. 1 eliminates all references to "hate crimes" and "violence associated with prejudice and intolerance" and repeals the Hate Crimes Prevention Program. It includes religious non-discrimination language that reads, "No funds under this part may be used for activities or programs that discriminate against or denigrate the religious or moral beliefs of students who participate in such activities or programs or of the parents or legal guardians of such students."

  5. Gun Free Schools Act: While Title V of the bill re-authorizes the Gun Free Schools Act, the proposal would codify the current practice of exempting home schools from the requirements of the part, by stating, "The term 'school' does not include a home school, regardless of whether a home school is treated as a private school under state law."

  6. Prohibits Curriculum Endorsement: The bill prohibits the federal government from controlling, mandating, or directing curriculum. Also prohibits funds from being used by the department of education to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed for use in elementary or secondary schools.

  7. Prohibits Mandatory Teacher Certification: The bill prohibits funds from being used to plan, develop, implement, or administer any mandatory national teacher or paraprofessional test or certification.

  8. Prohibits a National Test: The bill prohibits ESEA funds from being used to develop, pilot test, field test, implement, administer, or distribute any federally sponsored national test in reading, mathematics, or any other subject, unless specifically and explicitly authorized in law.

  9. Prohibits National Database: Includes a rule of construction which clarifies that nothing in the act is to be construed as allowing the development of a national database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or data collection under the act.

Highlights of H.R. 1

On March 13, 2001, the Committee provided a number of details about the bill. The actual language (all 1,000 pages) was not released until March 22.

According to the Committee,

"H.R. 1 contains the President's education proposals for elementary and secondary education, as well as a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). It significantly consolidates the scores of programs currently in ESEA and creates new flexibility options for states with Straight A's and flexibility to transfer funds between programs at the local level. It expands school choice and strengthens accountability for improving achievement with annual assessments, rewards and sanctions. In short, it transforms the federal role in education to put the needs of students first."

Below are summaries of various sections of the bill that may be of interest to the home schooling community. It is not a comprehensive list of everything in the bill.

Title I, Part A -- Improving Academic Performance of the Disadvantaged

Title I, Part A, is the largest ESEA program and is funded at $8.6 billion for FY 2001. The program authorizes federal aid to state and local educational agencies for helping educationally disadvantaged children achieve the same high state performance standards as all other students.

This portion of the bill mandates annual assessments for every child in Grades 3 - 8 - States may select and design assessments of their choosing; however, the results in student achievement must be comparable from year to year. States will have three years to develop and implement these assessments. Federal funds authorized for this purpose will cover the cost of developing these assessments.

It also outlines corrective action for low-performing schools and districts. A school that fails to improve after three years would be subject to significant penalties such as reconstitution, state takeover, the hiring of a private management contractor, converting to a charter school, or significant staff restructuring. In addition, disadvantaged students within the school may use their pro-rata share of Title I funds to transfer to a higher performing public or private school, or receive supplemental educational services from a provider of choice. All non-public providers receiving federal money will be subject to appropriate standards of accountability.

There are rewards of up to 30 percent of any increase in Title I funding to be set aside by states to provide rewards to schools (and teachers in such schools) who substantially close the achievement gap between the lowest and highest performing students and that have made outstanding yearly progress for two consecutive years, and requirements to issue report cards by state and by school.

This Title also requires that students who have attended school in the United States for at least three consecutive years would be tested in reading and language arts in the English language, and local educational agencies would be required to obtain parental consent prior to placing children in an instructional program that is not taught primarily in English.

Title I, Part B - Early Reading First / Reading First

This portion of the bill describes a new reading initiative for children in high poverty areas, and where there are high numbers of students who are not reading at grade level-targeted towards children ages three through five-and supports the development of verbal skills, phonemic awareness, pre-reading development and assistance for professional development for teachers in evidence-based strategies of instruction

Title II, Part A - Teacher Quality Training and Recruiting Fund

The purpose of this Title is to provide grants to increase student academic achievement through improving teacher quality and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in the classroom.

Title II, Part B - Teacher Liability

This part provides limited civil litigation immunity for teachers, principals, local school board members, superintendents, and other education professionals who engage in reasonable actions to maintain school discipline.

Title III, Part A - English Language Proficiency and Academic Achievement Act
(Formerly the Bilingual Education Act)

This provision consolidates the Bilingual Education Act with the Emergency Immigrant Education Program, and reforms existing law to focus existing programs on teaching English to limited English proficient children (including immigrant children and youth) and expediting their transition to mainstream education classes.

Local educational agencies would be required to obtain informed parental consent prior to placing children in an instructional program that is not taught primarily in English. Parents would have the right to choose among instruction programs if more than one type of program is offered. Parents would have the right to immediately remove their child from a program for limited English proficient children.

Title IV - Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs

Under H.R. 1, the purposes of these programs are to: (1) provide funding to enable states and local educational agencies to implement promising educational reform programs and school improvement initiatives based on scientifically based research, (2) provide a continuing source of innovation and educational improvement, including support for library services and instructional and media materials, and (3) meet the educational needs of all students, including at risk students.

This portion includes provisions for private school choice (school districts would be able to use funds to provide assistance to disadvantaged students in failing schools in order to attend a private school or receive supplementary educational services from a provider of the parent's choice).

Charter schools are public schools established under state law that are given varying degrees of autonomy from state and local rules and regulations. In exchange for their autonomy, charter schools are held accountable for meeting the terms of their charters. Under the Public Charter

Schools program, federal charter school dollars are provided only to those states that have a state charter school statute. H.R. 1 clarifies that the definition of a charter school is, among other things, a public school that admits students on the basis of a lottery or in another non-discriminatory manner consistent with state law, if more students apply for admission than can be accommodated.

The new Title IV, Part C, would establish an Educational Opportunity Fund to research the effectiveness of school choice programs in improving the academic performance of low income students.

Title V - Safe Schools for the 21st Century

Currently, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act provides grants to states and to national programs to support substance abuse education and violence prevention activities.

Title V, Part A, combines the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Act, and reauthorizes the Gun Free Schools Act.

The proposal would allow funds to be used for a number of activities including (ironically):

acquisition of metal detectors and security personnel, and character education.

H.R. 1 requires that any program or activity funded under this part meet the "principles of effectiveness," which require that the program or activity be based upon "scientifically based research."

The proposal would require states to allow for the transfer of students enrolled in persistently dangerous public schools (as defined by the state) to another public school or a private school, if no public school can accommodate the student.

A local educational agency would be required to withdraw a student from a program or activity under this part if the parents of the student provide written notification to the local education agency (LEA). The LEA must make reasonable efforts to inform the parents of the content of programs funded under this part, other than classroom instruction. While local educational agencies would still be allowed to fund DARE or DARE-type activities, references to DARE or DARE-type activities would be removed.

H.R.1 encourages the involvement of faith-based organizations in providing before and after school activities. The proposal contains provisions designed to ensure that all levels of government give consideration to religious organizations, on the same basis as other nongovernmental organizations, in carrying out activities and that such consideration be consistent with the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

H.R. 1 would require states to establish state-wide standards for student conduct that clearly allow the classroom teacher to maintain control of the classroom in order for all students to learn.

The proposal would allow school personnel greater discretion in disciplining students with disabilities.

H.R. 1 requires recipients of Universal Service Discounts (E-rate) to have in place for the protection of minors, technology to filter or block obscenity, child pornography, and material that is harmful to minors, and in the case of adults, block or filter child pornography and obscenity.

Title VI - Impact Aid

This portion of the bill provides for school districts that lose property tax because of federal installations.

Title VII - Freedom and Accountability

Rewards - States that make significant progress in academic achievement for students as a whole, for students from low-income families, and for students from major racial and ethnic groups would be honored with awards from the Secretary's "Achievement in Education" reward fund.

The primary indicators of state academic progress will be the state assessments under Title I and a second indicator consisting of the state National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or another assessment selected by the state.

A state would have to produce achievement gains on both tests in order to receive a reward. Other indicators the Secretary may take into consideration include increases in English proficiency, graduation rates, and the state's progress in increasing the percentages of students who take advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, as well as passage rates.

The purpose of this fund is to reward individual state progress, and does not compare progress between states.

Sanctions - States that fail to make adequate yearly progress for their disadvantaged students will be subject to losing a portion of their administrative funds.

Title VII, Part B - Straight A's

This part gives states and local school districts the option of establishing a five-year performance agreement with the Secretary of Education. If states do not choose this option, they continue to receive funds under the current categorical program requirements. Local school districts also have the option of establishing a performance agreement if their state does not participate.

Title VII, Part C - Transferability

The purpose of this part is to provide states and local school districts with the flexibility to shift federal dollars to other federal education programs that more effectively address their needs and priorities.

Title VII, Part D - Character Education

The Secretary of Education awards grants to state educational agencies, local educational agencies, public and private agencies and organizations, including faith-based organizations, or consortia of such agencies and organizations for the design and implementation of character education programs that can be integrated into state and local content and performance standards for the various academic subjects and incorporated into other educational reform efforts.

Character education programs would be designed at the local level. These programs would contain "elements of character" agreed upon by the agency or organization receiving a grant and would take into account the views of the parents or guardians of the students for which the program is intended. Examples of elements of character education may include: honesty, citizenship, courage, justice, respect, personal responsibility, and trustworthiness.

Title VIII - General Provisions

The new Title VIII (Title XIV under current law) contains general provisions that affect all programs under the ESEA.

This section includes provisions that:

  • Permit local educational agencies and educational service agencies, if they wish, to use up to 20 percent of administrative funds for payment of attorneys fees and related legal services in the defense of any legal action where the claim is that a school or its agent violated the constitutional prohibition against the establishment of religion by permitting, facilitating, or accommodating a student's religious expression or by permitting, facilitating, or accommodating memorials on campus.

  • Removes all Goals 2000 references.

  • Prohibits the federal government from controlling, mandating, or directing curriculum. Also prohibits funds from being used by the department of education to endorse, approve or sanction any curriculum designed for use in elementary or secondary schools.

  • Prohibits funds from being used to plan, develop, implement, or administer any mandatory national teacher or paraprofessional test or certification.

  • Prohibits ESEA funds from being used to develop, pilot test, field test, implement,

    administer, or distribute any federally sponsored national test in reading, mathematics, or any other subject, unless specifically and explicitly authorized in law.

  • Prohibits ESEA funds from: (1) being used to distribute obscene materials on school grounds; (2) funding courses or the development or distribution of materials that are designed to promote or encourage sexual activities; (3) being used to operate a program of contraceptive distribution at schools; and (4) funding sex education in schools unless such program is age appropriate and emphasizes abstinence.

  • Ensures that voluntary prayer in schools is protected.

  • Includes a rule of construction which clarifies that nothing in the act is to be construed as allowing the development of a national database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or data collection under the act.

  • Continues rule of construction that nothing shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any federal control over home schools.

Titles Repealed

The following titles of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are repealed: Title V, Part B (Women's Educational Equity Act); Title V, Part C (Assistance to Dropouts); Title IX, Part B (Native Hawaiians); Title X (Programs of National Significance); Title XI (Coordinated Services); Title XII (School Infrastructure).

Title IX - Homeless Education

The purpose of this title is to strengthen subchapter VI of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.


For further information on this issue, contact Doug Domenech at the National Center for Home Education at: 540.338.7600, or by fax 540.338.8606, or e-mail NationalCenter@hslda.org.

 Other Resources

H.R. 1óNo Child Left Behind Act of 2001