December 20, 2002

A Christmas Message From HSLDA

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

As we wind down the year 2002, I want to thank each one of you for your encouragement and support of Home School Legal Defense Association. By joining HSLDA, you're allowing us to continue our mission to expand and protect the freedom of parents who choose home education.

This year, we have grown to our largest membership base ever. This means we can do more to help families across the United States. Our staff has helped thousands of families with legal contacts and other home education related issues throughout this year. We will continue to defend each legal contact with all the knowledge and zeal we have acquired over the last 20 years. Without your support, however, we would be unable to provide this service.

As we look ahead to 2003, we look forward to another great year in advancing freedoms. In states like Pennsylvania and New York where homeschoolers face strict regulations, we will continue to push for more freedom in the legislature and courts. We will continue to oppose efforts in the various state legislatures where attempt are made to reel back homschool freedoms. We will continue to fight legislation making kindergarten mandatory, like in the District of Columbia where the DC Council attempted to make public school attendance mandatory for children as young as three.

In addition to issues on the state level, there are many federal laws which unintentionally discriminate against students who are being homeschooled. We are currently preparing legislation to address these programs in one piece of legislation. These issues include the Higher Education Act (HEA), discrimination against homeschoolers seeking financial aid for college; Family Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of records of public school students but not the records of homeschoolers held by the school; Education Savings Accounts (ESA), which are only available for homeschoolers who happen to live in one of the 14 states where homeschoolers are considered private schools under state law. HSLDA will also be engaging in the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (CAPTA), where we will further advocate protecting the rights of parents subjected to social services investigations.

At HSLDA we are constantly looking for ways to better demonstrate the positive aspects of home education and refute the often negative rhetoric about homeschoolers. Toward that end, we have commissioned a research project with the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) for 2003. HSLDA will be working with Dr. Brian Ray of NHERI to conduct a major study of adults who were home educated, examining their civic, social, and educational success. This will be the first study of its kind of homeschoolers in America.

On behalf of the Board and staff at HSLDA, I want to extend to you and your family best wishes for a blessed Christmas season We look forward to serving you again next year, and for many years to come If you ever fail to receive excellent service from us, I want to encourage you to contact me directly so that I can address the problem. All of you are part of our family at HSLDA and we strive to treat you that way.

May you have a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Very truly yours,

J. Michael Smith
President of HSLDA