August 7, 2003

Homeschoolers Add Protective Amendment to "Head Start" Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed "early education" legislation that included an important provision protecting parents' rights drafted by the Home School Legal Defense Association. The provision specifically states:

"Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require a State to establish a program of early education for children in the State, to require any child to participate in a program of early education, to attend school, or to participate in any initial screening. . ."

HSLDA Senior Counsel, Chris Klicka, believes "This provision can be used to stop attempts by the state legislatures to lower the compulsory attendance ages to 4 or 3. When state legislatures hear their legislation may endanger their federal funds, they will often simply allow the legislation to die."

For example, Washington D.C. tried to force 4 year olds into school last year by legislation. Massachussetts and other states have attempted to do the same thing in recent years.

Furthermore, this provision will prohibit the funds in this Act from being used to mandate students to attend early education programs like Head Start, or to force assessments or screening on students. Parents' rights are protected in this bill.

The bill, the School Readiness Act, H.R. 2210, passed on July 23 and heads for the U.S. Senate where the provision is expected to be retained.

HSLDA would like to thank Congressman John Boehner, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and his committee staff for their leadership in this matter.