» posted on Saturday, March 6th, 2010 at 11:54 pm
Does HSLDA Mix Causes?
If So, to What Effect on Homeschooling?
“The more non-homeschooling issues homeschooling groups are associated with, the more negative opinions you cultivate, and you take on unnecessary risks that could hurt what should be your primary task: protecting homeschoolers…unless it’s of vital interest and a homeschooling issue, don’t stick your neck out.” While HSLDA’s full agenda “may be worthy of your interests, it is a catch-all for conservative… issues, and it paints us all with that brush.”
-Will Shaw, long time homeschooler,
state homeschool lobbyist and
founder of the Virginia Home Education Association
HSLDA’s acts on behalf of its broad agenda includes what many homeschoolers do not consider homeschooling issues, and which HSLDA members might not care to fortify with their membership fee if they knew what their money was supporting. While the HSLDA web site does list their agenda, the enrollment forms do not. Many homeschoolers believe that the organization has a responsibility to state its mission clearly, and yet it is only discovered when one looks very carefully.
Indeed, the “What is HSLDA?” segment of the Support Group Seminar Workbook states, “HSLDA is a nonprofit organization established in 1983 expressly for the purpose of defending the right of parents who choose to home school their children.” But, as revealed on this page, that is not all HSLDA does.
By identifying homeschoolers as being of a certain political bent, HSLDA is misrepresenting the truth, and causing those legislators, who are not of the same bent, to immediately identify homeschoolers as the opposition.
Federal Marriage Amendment
“Why HSLDA is Fighting Against Same-Sex Marriage”
HSLDA’s e-mail asking for feed back on the issue of Congress’ consideration of “a federal marriage amendment to stop gay marriage.“
HSLDA’s “Questions and Answers Regarding a Constitutional Amendment on Same-Sex Marriage”
What are the ramifications for homeschool families headed by same-sex couples? How can HLSDA support ALL homeschoolers when it takes stands on relgious or partisan issues outside of homeschooling?
Read Mike Farris’ report on meeting with President Bush to “celebrate the signing of the bill-that was going to happen shortly after our meeting-that banned partial birth abortion. It was a bill that we had worked on for years.” [emphasis added] And this has to do with homeschooling how?
HSLDA’s Issues Library includes a bulletin urging members to “Call, fax, or e-mail both of your United States senators immediately and tell them… ‘Ashcroft is fully qualified for the job of Attorney General. He is a man of integrity and expertise. John Ashcroft should be confirmed as Attorney General.’” The organization put out an “Urgent Federal Legislative Alert,” that lists reasons “home schoolers should care,” including “The Attorney General will be the key government official during the federal judge nominating process.”
Gun Free School Zones Act
HSLDA and the Gun Free School Zones Act
HSLDA filed suit in a federal court, “requesting that home schools not be considered private schools under the Gun Free School Zones Act. This action is unwarranted, unnecessary, and potentially threatening to home schooling freedoms everywhere.” Under pressure, HSLDA withdrew the lawsuit. The case is closed, but article supplies important information about HSLDA’s actions. Read the Summary of the 1997 HSLDA-initiated “damaging and ill-conceived federal lawsuit“. You may also wish to read a “fuller discussion of the points presented in the summary.”
Religious Fairness In Bankruptcy Court Act
During testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law committee in February 1998, Michael Farris indicated he was speaking on behalf of the 55,000 members of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He spoke in support of the Religious Fairness in Bankruptcy Court Act (HR 2611) which would protect churches from being sued and forced to return tithe money that had been donated by church members who subsequently file for bankruptcy.
Chemical Weapons Convention
In April 1997, Robert D. Novak, in his Washington Post column, recounted an April 10th incident “when some 40 conservatives crowded into a Capitol office, pleading with [Trent] Lott to oppose CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention]. Arriving 45 minutes late, Lott seemed offended by social conservatives involving themselves with national security. An aide belittled the petitioners as representing ‘a collection of fringe groups.’ Lott was particularly dismayed that Mike Farris, a leading homeschooling advocate, dared to discuss chemical weapons.” [emphasis added]- Robert D. Novak, “Viva Trent Lott”, Washington Post, April 28, 1997.
The Case of Michael New
In 1995, HSLDA was criticized for representing 22 year old, home schooled Texan Michael New who refused to wear “a UN insignia on his sleeve and wear a UN blue baseball cap”. (Cliff Kincaid, “Patriotic GI Gets Taste of Clinton ‘Justice’,” Human Events Magazine, Vol. 52, Issue 4, February 2, 1996, page 1.) Michael New was found guilty of failure to obey a lawful order and dishonorably discharged. (“Michael New Convicted” Home School Court Report, Vol. 12, No.1, page 21.) He is appealing his discharge and his defense team includes lead counsel Ronald Ray, David S. Sullivan, attorneys Henry L. Hamilton, Michael Farris, and Herb Titus. Michael Farris continues to use HSLDA’s address and phone number as his own on Mr. New’s court filings. (Institute for Media Education Distribution, First Principles Press, P.O. Box 1136, Crestwood, KY 40014; 1-800-837-0544; fax; 502.241.1552.)
While Michael New does not fit the description of a homeschool family whose homeschool is challenged by authorities, the political implications of Michael Farris choosing to represent him are difficult to ignore. In 1996, Michael New nominated Howard Phillips for President at the U.S. Taxpayers Party convention in San Diego, California. Phillips then named Herb Titus, another of Michael New’s attorneys, as his Vice Presidential running mate. (“Taxpayers Party Picks Howard Phillips Again“, Human Events Magazine, Vol. 51, Issue 33, 8/30/96, page 7.) Herb Titus is a strict dominionist (or reconstructionist) fired by Pat Robertson in 1993 from his post as dean of Regent University’s School of Law. (Alan Foege, op. cit., page 176.) Michael New’s father, Daniel, is the Chairman of the U.S. Taxpayers party in Texas and former primary candidate for U. S. Congress.
In 1995 HSLDF gave the Michael New Defense Fund a $1,000 contribution. (Home School Legal Defense Foundation, Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, individuals or organizations receiving money as a grant or contribution 1995.) In 1996 the Michael New Defense Fund received $9,607 in contributions from HSLDF. (Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Internal Revenue Service, HSLDF, 1996.)
In 1996, Daniel New ran for the U.S. Congress in the 8th district of Texas, but was defeated in the Republican primary. Howard Phillips was a contributor and a recipient of campaign disbursements in Mr. New’s bid for office through his T. C. Concepts organization. (Report of Receipts and Disbursements, Daniel New, Texas Ethics Commission, Disclosure Filings Division, P.O. Box 12070, Austin, TX 78711-2070.)
Kentucky Attorney Ronald Ray has set up a legal defense fund for Mr. New that solicits homeschoolers (and other conservative groups) for donations. (Michael New’s Petition Denied, Home School Court Report, Vol., 12, No. 4 page 4.) HSLDA has also participated in soliciting funds for Mr. New’s defense through their Court Report publication.
On March 12, 1997 the New Action Fund of Conroe, TX issued a press release announcing that “the U. S. Court of Appeals has denied the Department of Defense’s request to throw S.P.C. Michael New’s case out with a ‘summary affirmation’ and has granted New a full hearing. Michael Farris is head of the Home School Legal Defense Association, and is New’s lead attorney in the civilian courts.” (“New Appeal Granted”, press release, New Action Fund, Conroe TX, March 10, 1997. For more information contact (540) 338-1835 or Daniel New (409) 539-1917.)
Hooked On Phonics?
In mid 1995, HSLDA’s National Center for Home Education was apparently activated in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of Orange, California based Gateway Educational Products. The investigation pertained to claims that their $230.00 “Hooked on Phonics” reading program’s advertising claims were too broad.
“The FTC complaint said Gateway failed to substantiate claims that Hooked on Phonics: Will teach those with reading problems or disabilities to read, regardless of the problem; Can teach those with dyslexia, attention deficit disorders or other teaming disabilities to read; Can teach reading in the home without a tutor; Can teach comprehension; and Had helped nearly 1 million students learn to read at home.” (Greg Gattuso, “Hooked on Phonics Marketer Settles FTC Charges”, Direct Marketing, Feb. 95, p6.)
“But parents who believe that the public schools are controlled by liberals who are hostile to the basics insisted the FTC had targeted the small company for ideological reasons. Michael Farris, who heads the Home School Legal Defense Fund, said he had feared the FTC was planning ‘a broad attack on the materials that parents use to home-school their children.” (Sally Streff Buzbee, Associated Press, “FTC move stirs flood of public reaction/Hooked on Phonics criticism protested.” 6/3/95, San Diego Union Tribune. Page A-11.)
“Under the settlement agreement, Gateway agrees to have ‘competent and reliable evidence to back up any future educational- benefit claims’. Hooked on Phonics is confident that all their claims can be easily substantiated.” (“Hooked On Phonics Case Settled“, Home School Court Report, Vol. 11. No. 3, 1995, page 12.)
The actions of the National Center raise questions about the appropriateness of their apparent endorsement of a particular method and specific product used to teach reading and “the thousands of angry phone calls, letters and Internet messages [that] poured in.” (Sally Streff Buzbee, op. cit.) In October of 1995 Gateway Educational Products filed for bankruptcy. (Timothy Terrell, “Hooked by Government“)
HSLDA’s Lobbying Arm?
HSLDA’s National Center for Home Education is “fully funded by HSLDA.” According to HSLDA spokesman Caleb Kirshner [Support Group Seminar, Richmond, VA, October 23, 1999], NCHE receives 10% of HSLDA’s financial “intake.”
The NCHE operates the Congressional Action Program, “an organized grass roots lobbying force” which enrolls and trains homeschooling parents” in each of the 435 congressional districts who can be contacted at a moment’s notice to activate phone trees to contact a particular Congressman concerning a crucial federal issue.” CAP maintains an “army” of homeschooling parents who live within driving distance of Washington, D.C. “These local CAP coordinators are trained and regularly updated by the National Center staff to lobby Congressman and Senators personally.”
Some Of The HSLDA/NCHE’s Efforts, listed at its “Issues Library” include items unrelated to homeschooling:
- Support the Children Tax ID Alternative Act –Supports the amendment of Part F of Title XIV, Section 14602(b) to codify a letter to HSLDA which says that the Gun Free School Zones [HR6] provisions do not apply to home schools.
- Oppose the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
- Oppose Citizen Tracking Proposals Through Government Regulations
- Oppose the Religious Liberty Protection Act (RLPA)
- Eliminate the Tax Penalty on Marriage
- HSLDA funds pay for Michael Farris’ dues to the Council for National Policy
–”We [HSLDA] pay dues to the Council for National Policy so that I may attend the meetings.” [E-mail letter from Michael Farris to John Holzmann, Tue, 21 Dec 1999 17:31:58 0500]
Citizenship or Lawyership Choosing Political Strategies for Homeschoolers
If you knew that in states throughout the land, homeschooling cases involving people like you were being taken to court in a misguided attempt to protect the rights of homeschoolers and that most of these cases were being decided against homeschoolers, wouldn’t you be concerned?
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