HSLDA Weighs-in on ESEA Rewrite, Concerns Remain

On Monday, Congress unveiled the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is the Conference Committee report for the major reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). The last time ESEA was reauthorized was in 2001, as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

The Every Student Succeeds Act takes H.R. 5, which passed the House, and S. 1177, which passed the Senate, and combines the two bills into one. The final bill is 1,061 pages long. You can read it here. We anticipate that the House will vote on this bill later this week, and the Senate will vote on this bill sometime before Christmas. SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

Analysis of Provisions

HSLDA is pleased to announce that all of our language protecting homeschools from any federal control remains in the Every Student Succeeds Act. (This protection also applies to private schools that do not receive federal funds.) Congress included this section in the 2001 NCLB as Section 9506. The Every Student Succeeds Act recodifies it as Section 8506. This is a major victory for homeschool freedom, and we applaud Congress for retaining and reauthorizing this essential language.

Read more here.


The Rise of Homeschool Discrimination

IAHE has had concerns over the past several years as it noticed a shift in the attitudes of some regarding homeschool diplomas.  There have been various instances in Indiana where questions have arisen regarding diplomas; such as, with the military, higher education, and employers.  A case involving an Indiana company, NiSource, was troubling to many homeschoolers as they learned of its discriminatory practice toward homeschoolers.

Home School Legal Defense Association has seen an increasing number of cases of discrimination against homeschoolers.  Listen to Equal Rights for Homeschoolers: An Interview with HSLDA Attorneys from their latest Homeschool Heartbeat to learn more.

SMALL 300 Join Action E-List


Why IAHE Action?

In recent years, Indiana Association of Home Educators has observed increased threats to parental and home education rights. The threats have been seen in various forms. Christian home education is particularly egregious to many who oppose homeschooling. WEBSITE RGB Action Logo 400x400

As IAHE assessed these threats, they felt like the time had come to commence a new sister organization that is better prepared to meet these needs. Indiana Association of Home Educators Action 501(c)4 was founded to support the mission of the IAHE (c)3 and to act as its lobbying arm. IAHE Action has greater flexibility than the 501(c)3 and is able to perform unlimited lobbying and limited political work.

It is our desire that all Indiana home educators receive legislative updates in order to protect our freedom. As the majority of advocacy transitions from IAHE to IAHE Action, legislative updates will come from Action. Be sure to sign up here to receive our legislative updates.  IAHE Action will also provide a forum that permits posts that IAHE does not.  We are all in this together to protect Indiana home education freedom!

Please share this information with those who value home education freedom.

SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

Homeschoolers and Indiana’s RFRA

As we gear up for the 2016 session of the Indiana General Assembly, IAHE Action thinks it would be a good time review our stance on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  Home education rights rest on two pillars:  religious liberty and parental rights.  We need both strong pillars to protect home education rights.

RFRA was signed into federal law in 1993, and there is no federal law giving special class to sexual orientation and gender identity.  This law has been used ZERO times to allow for discrimination. [1]  RFRA was demonized as allowing discrimination, but that was untrue.  It is a shield and not a sword that protects ALL Hoosiers’ deeply held religious beliefs against government intrusion.

After Indiana’s RFRA was amended by SB 50, “IAHE asked Darren Jones, HSLDA staff attorney, if we are accurate in our understanding that homeschoolers can still benefit from Indiana’s RFRA as it pertains to the state trying to force us to teach evolution, sex education in a certain manner or by a certain age, or by attempting to ban home education, etc.? WEBSITE RGB Action Logo 400x400

His response: “Yes, you are accurate in your understanding. Individual homeschoolers could still claim the protection of RFRA in a court proceeding if Indiana tried to impose religiously-objectionable curriculum requirements or ban home education. The amendment to RFRA only applies to “providers” in the context of services, facilities, etc., and so that amendment would not diminish an individual homeschooler’s right to raise RFRA in the situations you have mentioned.”” [2]

“The important conclusion is that no one should be forced by the government to violate his or her faith. This is what makes RFRA so important, but those that oppose religious freedom are at work using misinformation to stop this.”  [3]

IAHE, Inc. had an excellent article about Indiana’s RFRA.  Read it here.

[1] Indiana, Arkansas are Standing for Religious Freedom…Will you?

[2] Portion of article originally printed in the Indiana Association of Home Educators, The Informer Magazine, Fall 2015.

[3] Does RFRA Equal Discrimination? No It Prevents It

SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

Indiana Vaccination Data Questions Remain

Indiana families were not the only ones that received letters regarding vaccinations from their State Department of Health which IAHE alerted Indiana home educators about in this post from mid-October.  Michigan families also received a similar letter.  These types of occurrences highlight IAHE Action’s concern about the increased amount of government data collection. WEBSITE RGB Action Logo 400x400

HSLDA asks, “Is Government Data Being Used to Deliver Drug Company Profits?” 

Hundreds of thousands of families in Indiana and Michigan recently received letters from their respective departments of health notifying them of their children’s immunization status and ordering them to schedule additional vaccinations. Many families were unaware that officials had access to such private information or that it had been compiled into statewide databases. Some of the parents contacted were HSLDA members who subsequently sought advice from HSLDA—particularly regarding the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV).

Read more here.

SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

ISTEP+ and Homeschoolers?

It was recently brought to our attention that the Indiana Department of Education had sent a memo to Superintendents and Principals giving guidance related to homeschoolers enrolled in one class in public school and ISTEP+:

Q: Does the homeschool student have to take ISTEP+ and relevant ECA assessments if they are only enrolled in one course?

 A: Students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 in a public school or accredited non-public school must take the ISTEP+ assessments. Students in grades 10, 11, and 12 during the 2015-16 school year must take the Algebra I and English 10 ECAs if they are enrolled in the course(s). WEBSITE RGB Action Logo 400x400

 The concern is in regards to homeschoolers and ISTEP+. Home educators enrolled in one public school are being tested with ISTEP+ on curriculum that they are not using. The purpose of the ISTEP program is designed to “provide a source of information for state and local decision makers with regard to…the overall academic progress of students…the need for new or revised educational programs…the need to terminate existing education programs…student readiness for postsecondary school experiences…(and) diagnosing individual student needs”.

HSLDA attorney, Tj Schmidt, wrote a post about this situation in July:  Homeschoolers Can Skip the ISTEP

If you have concerns about taking ISTEP+ or any tests while enrolled in a class in public school for any reason, contact HSLDA.

SMALL 300 Join Action E-List





Will Senator Cruz’s Bill Allow Homeschoolers to Receive Federal Funds?

Homeschoolers have reason to be concerned that government funding would lead to a loss of home education freedom. Some have expressed concern that Senator Cruz’ bill S 306 would allow homeschoolers to receive federal funds. Attorney Will Estrada, Director of Federal Relations for Home School Legal Defense Association, explains legally why this bill should not be a concern for homeschoolers.

Hi, all,

Anyone who thinks that Senator Cruz’ bill will allow homeschoolers (including in states which define homeschools as a type of private school) to receive federal funds has a deep misunderstanding of federal law.

Title I funds are limited, narrow, and are in high demand. There is a reason why Senator Cruz – and most other federal legislators who have tried to create Title I portability – only limit them to private schools, not homeschools.


The attached lengthy document (below) explains how Title I funds can be given to eligible private schools. As you can see, it’s a lengthy, convoluted process, which MUST begin with the private school trying to obtain the funds through “adequate consultation.” The bloggers who are trying to say this bill will allow the feds to control homeschools with federal funds are completely mistaken.

One sentence on page 6 is key: “A unilateral offer of services by an LEA [the local public school] with no opportunity for discussion is not adequate consultation.”

Right now, Title I services are available to private schools through the process I outlined above. Private schools cannot receive actual funds, which is what this Ted Cruz legislation would change.

So just to clarify, private schools (not homeschools classified as private schools under state law) can currently receive certain Title I services for low income and struggling students. They cannot receive actual federal dollars.

Ted Cruz’ bill, if it passed,  would allow private schools that are accredited by the states (and which pass all of the fire code, safety rules, background checks, etc.) to receive certain federal funds as actual dollars.

This should end any fear among the bloggers. The private school has to essentially spend months begging for any federal funds. They’re not going to be surprised by offers for largesse from the local public schools, who are the entities which would decide who will receive these federal Title I dollars, both under current law, and under any changes from bill’s like Senator Cruz’, in the highly unlikely event it became law.

Please see the attached document, and I would recommend that we forward this to anyone who thinks Senator Cruz’ bill will allow homeschoolers to receive federal Title I dollars.

Please let me know if you would like more details about this.

Will Estrada

Director of Federal Relations

Home School Legal Defense Association

Federal Title I guidance for private schools

SMALL 300 Join Action E-List