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March 31, 2015

Vote-a-rama 2015: Two Wins for Homeschoolers
in this Year’s Federal Budget Battle

William A. Estrada, Esq.,
Director of Federal Relations


Andrew Mullins,
Deputy Director

Will EstradaWill Estrada has been leading our efforts to defend homeschooling on Capitol Hill since 2006. Andrew MullinsAndrew Mullins has been deputy director of federal relations since 2014.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate held an all-day budget voting session (often dubbed “vote-a-rama”) that saw a flurry of floor votes and amendments proposed for the 2015 federal budget. For politicos around the country, it is one of the most exciting times of the year, as we get to see where our elected leaders stand on multiple hot-button issues that are introduced into the budget for a floor vote.

Of the 43 amendments that were brought for a floor vote during vote-a-rama, two were of particular interest to homeschoolers. Both of the amendments either passed or failed on a strict party-line vote, with all Republicans and all Democrats voting together. Here are two of the highlights for homeschoolers:

1. Passed 54–46: Senate Amendment 515—Vitter (LA) on Federal Role in Common Core

Louisiana Senator David Vitter proposed this budget amendment to reign in federal support for the Common Core by ending the ability of the U.S. Department of Education to pressure states to remain in the Common Core through waivers to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). If passed in the final budget, this amendment will eliminate the federal government’s ability to incentivize states to adopt or remain in the Common Core, thereby allowing states to opt out of the Common Core without receiving a financial penalty.

This amendment is especially historic as it marks the first time the Senate has voted to reign in the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core since Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which included the Race to the Top Program.

What Happens Next?

While it is not yet certain whether Congress will even be able to pass a federal budget that President Obama signs into law, or whether the final budget includes Senator Vitter’s Amendment 515, this is a significant step forward in the fight to end federal support for the Common Core and return educational control back to states and families.

The full text of Sen. Vitter’s amendment can be found online.

2. Defeated 54–46: Senate Amendment 951—Murray (WA)

This amendment sought to establish a new Federal-state preschool partnership and expand Federal preschool involvement by increasing spending across the board in currently existing programs.

Federally funded early childhood education comes with a hefty price tag, and the long list of dollar signs on Sen. Murray’s amendment speaks for itself. In addition to increasing federal involvement in early childhood education, this policy violates the parent’s rights to direct the teaching of their children. It thrives off of the notion that parents are not adequate teachers and mentors for their children.

HSLDA believes that parents should have the freedom to direct the education of their children at all ages, and continues to fight for this freedom in both the legal and legislative arenas. HSLDA fundamentally opposes legislation implementing universal preschool because even voluntary universal early education programs can easily be pressured on families, or even become mandatory.

What Happens Next?

HSLDA will continue to track bills and amendments that will increase the role of the federal government in preschool education. To stay up-to-date on bills that we are following, please visit our Federal Relations Page.

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Read More

Why government should stay out of pre-kindergarten.

HSLDA’s Position on Early Childhood Education.

The full text of Sen. Murray’s amendment can be found here.

Senators’ letter requesting restoration of state fiscal decision-making regarding academics.

U.S. representatives’ letter requesting restoration of state fiscal decision-making regarding academics.

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