Court Report

How I Help HSLDA Defend Homeschooling at the Federal Level

Out of the thousands of bills that are introduced in Congress every year, HSLDA Action takes a public stance on very few of them. That’s because we only support or advocate against bills that would directly impact our mission.

We aim to advance and protect homeschool freedom—nothing more and nothing less. And our discipline in sticking to that narrowly tailored mission is one of the reasons we have been so successful.

How do we sift through the thousands of bills written each year and determine which ones require action? Let’s take a look at the process.

As HSLDA Action’s lobbyist on Capitol Hill, I always take the first step. When I learn of a bill that might have to do with homeschool freedom, I review the legislation and check which congressmen are sponsoring the bill. I also find out what like-minded organizations are saying about the bill.

If I conclude that the bill would support or jeopardize our mission, I then send it on to the legal team at HSLDA.

After the lawyers go through the bill to determine its potential impact, the whole team discusses the implications of the bill and how we should proceed.

If we support the bill, sometimes we sign on to a press release from the bill’s sponsor, so they can let colleagues in Congress and their constituents know that the bill they are introducing has HSLDA’s stamp of approval.

Other times, we join other organizations and sign on to coalition letters (collective statements made by several organizations at once). This gesture both expresses our support of a policy and helps build relationships with other groups who share similar goals.

If it’s a particularly strong bill, we also make sure you know about it and let you know how to contact your representatives and voice your support.

We also come to you when there’s a bill we staunchly oppose—bills that require public attention and pressure to stop their momentum through Congress. At the federal level, legislative threats to home education don’t come up too often, as Congress does not legally have much power to regulate homeschooling.

So, if you ever receive an alert about a harmful federal bill, you’ll know it’s important.

A third category of legislation that catches our eye are those bills we don’t support or oppose, per se, but that need rewriting to avoid harming the homeschooling community. This problem is most often posed by education-funding bills, in which well-meaning legislators direct money to the homeschooling movement that could come with strings attached.

When that type of bill comes along, the first thing I do is approach the bill’s sponsor and ask for a rewrite of the bill to remove the connection to homeschoolers. Sponsors are usually happy to do so, but on the rare occasion that they aren’t, we take action against the bill by letting you know that your homeschool freedom might be at risk.

And that’s how it works. By following the process outlined above, we ensure that we’re using our time (and your resources!) wisely. Sifting through those thousands of bills can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, but knowing that our work defends the homeschool freedom of families like yours makes it all worth it.

Maggie was the federal relations liaison for HSLDA from 2018–2023, advocating on behalf of homeschool families on Capitol Hill.