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Federal Legislation
May 6, 2015

S. 1177—Every Child Achieves Act

Summary:
S.1177, the “Every Child Achieves Act,” is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

In addition to the inclusion of current federal law which exempts homeschools and non-federally funded private schools from all federal education mandates (see below), S. 1177 also includes provisions prohibiting any federal involvement in the Common Core State Standards, and limiting federal involvement in other areas of education.

HSLDA opposes expansion of federal funding for early childhood education programs, including parts of S. 1177 that provide federal funding to Pre-K programs. We are concerned about the inclusion in S. 1177 that allows Title 1 funding for early childhood education programs (e.g., Section 1113, page 131). However, this language is in line with longstanding federal guidance and does not create new federal funding for early childhood education programs. We are watching this legislation closely to make sure this bill is not amended to create a new early childhood education program.

You can read more about HSLDA’s position on early childhood education online.

Status:
Law—signed by president (12/10/2015)

Sponsor:
Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN)

Bill Summary and Status S. 1177

HSLDA’s Position:
Neutral

HSLDA believes that under the U.S. Constitution, education decisions should be left to state and local governments, not the federal government. Until the federal government recognizes this, federal education dictates will continue to lead to centralized education policy, ultimately weakening local and parental control over education. Unfortunately, S. 1177 continues to have the federal government setting policy for public schools.

However, HSLDA exists to protect and defend homeschool freedom. Because S. 1177 contains provisions that both protect that freedom of homeschoolers and reduce federal overreach into public education, HSLDA is neutral on this legislation as a whole. We are supportive of several sections as outlined below.

Background:
ESEA has been law since it was originally enacted in 1965. Since then it has been expanded and reauthorized, with its most recent manifestation as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. HSLDA worked closely with allies to include language in the final version of NCLB that created a strong exemption for homeschools and private school s that do not receive federal funding (see below).

S. 1177 is not a reauthorization of NCLB. Instead, it is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. If Congress does not pass S. 1177, NCLB will continue to remain the law of the land.

S. 1177 contains several provisions that HSLDA strongly supports.

Protective Language in S. 1177

• S. 1177 retains Section 9506 of NCLB (20 U.S.C. § 7886). This language ensures that nothing in the Every Child Achieves Act will apply to homeschools or private schools that do not receive federal funds, thus protecting these private educational programs from any federal regulation or control. This is of the utmost importance to homeschoolers across the nation. This provision has helped to protect homeschools from being forced to follow the Common Core, federal testing mandates, and other federal programs that have been pushed on public schools. In addition, this section prohibits state or local school districts from trying to force homeschools to follow local public school mandates. HSLDA has successfully used this section in the past to defeat attempts by local school districts to regulate homeschooling under the mistaken belief that the federal government requires them to do so.

• S. 1177 also retains Section 9531 of NCLB (20 U.S.C. §§ 7911). This language protects the privacy and safety of children by ensuring that nothing in the act will authorize the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data established by the act.

• S. 1177 also retains Section 9530 of NCLB (20 U.S.C. § 7910). This language prohibits the federal government from creating any program of national testing or certification for teachers.

• S. 1177 also retains Section 9529 of NCLB (20 U.S.C. § 7909). This language prohibits federal funding for the development, implementation, or administration of national testing in any subject.

Common Core Language in S. 1177

In addition to the language discussed above, S. 1177 also contains language in Section 9526 and Section 9529 (both page 11) aimed at preventing the use of federal government dollars to incentivize states into adopting the Common Core State Standards.

 Other Resources

ESEA Reauthorization 2015: The Nuts and Bolts for Homeschoolers

Senate HELP Committee’s Press Release on Bill

House ESEA Reauthorization legislation