Alabama, for example, a group of citizens
has been working to build momentum
for the legislature to pass a “Tebow” bill,
which would give homeschooled students
more access to public school sports.
shows that every homeschooling family
has an opportunity to participate in important lobbying efforts at the local level.
Calling a state representative may be considered a duty for those who wish to have
their voices heard.
Most states have their own homegrown
lobbying groups, but several organizations at the national level have made a
more general impact. The most well-known national lobby for homeschoolers
is the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). That group has been
instrumental in policing laws across the
states, as well as actively lobbying Congress. Indeed, its efforts have led some
in Congress to view homeschoolers as
“the most effective educational lobby on
HSLDA often takes on issues at the
federal level. In 2011, it successfully lobbied Congress to protect the rights of
homeschoolers who want to enlist in the
military. It secured passage of an act that
mandated “equal treatment” in recruitment and enlistment of a student who
“completes a program of secondary education in compliance with the education
laws of the State in which the person resides”—in other words, homeschoolers.
This type of change to the law does not
happen without a lobbying group such as
HSLDA identifying a problem and proposing a solution.
HSLDA has put out a national agenda for
their lobbying efforts in the current Congress. In addition to the military recruitment issue, the group hopes to accomplish
five other goals. In a classic example of
lobbying, it explains that it is “working be-
hind the scenes to put together a powerful
coalition of freshmen and veteran lawmak-
ers” to have Congress propose a “Parental
Rights Amendment” to the U.S. Constitu-
7 This amendment has little chance of
success this year, but this type of long-term
goal will not ever be reached without pro-
longed lobbying efforts.
Criticism of the Homeschool
Although lobbying has been crucial to
achieving homeschool-friendly laws in
many states, the process does not come
without its critics. Organizations like the
HSLDA have been aggressive in pursuing
an entirely “hands-off” governmental approach to homeschooling, fighting every
effort to place any level of state regulation
. . . Every
has an opportunity to
participate in important
lobbying efforts at the
or monitoring on homeschoolers. This
has led some to question whether the
lobby has become too powerful, to the
detriment of some at-risk children.
As an example, one law journal article
argues: “State legislatures should take
notice of the potential harm to [home-schooled] children educated without
standards or oversight and should reexamine the appropriate level of regulation. Most should consider re-regulating
8 Indeed, even some homeschoolers support the limited regulation of their activities. Groups such as
HSLDA are skeptical of such arguments,
believing that “the true reason would-be
reformers target homeschoolers” is that
they “fear the influence homeschool parents have over their children, especially
given the fact most of these parents wish
to teach their faith and values—usually,
9 Whatever side one
ultimately takes in the above debate, few
would deny that the success of the home
education movement has been, in great
part, due to effective lobbying.
Although lobbying may be a dirty word
in some circles, the practice is an absolute necessity in today’s political environment. However, homeschooling families should do their homework before
throwing their support behind any one
organization. In particular, they should
carefully evaluate whether the goals of
that group mirror their own values and
beliefs. If not, they should choose a different lobbying organization—or maybe
even start a new one . . .
Antony B. Kolenc (J.D., University of Florida College of Law) is an author, speaker,
and law professor at Florida Coastal
School of Law. He is also a retired U.S. Air
Force officer. He and his wife have homeschooled their five children for over a decade. Tony is author of The Chronicles
of Xan historical fiction trilogy, as well as
many legal articles. Learn more about him
at www.antonykolenc.com. If you have a
law-related homeschooling question that
you would like to see Tony address in a future column, please email TL@TheHome
1. Napoleon 1, Maxims (trans) (as quoted in David
and Hilary Crystal, Words on Wars, University
of Chicago Press , p. 94).
2. See Patricia M. Lines, Homeschooling Comes of
Age, 140 Pub. Int. 74, 77 (2000).
3. Quoted information taken from the Home Education Foundation website, at lhef.org/about-hef/what-does-your-lobbyist-do-year-round-for-you.
www.timtebowbill.com (“We are a group
of citizens of the great state of Alabama lobbying for our state public education establishment
to allow homeschooled students equal access to
sports and extracurricular activities.”). This was
also the topic of my Legally Speaking TOS column in June 2012.
5. See Daniel Golden, Social Studies: Home Schoolers Learn How to Gain Clout Inside the Beltway,
Wall St. J., Apr. 4, 2000, at A1 (quoting Bill
Goodling, former chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce).
6. See Public Law 112-81, Section 532, Policy on
Military Recruitment and Enlistment of Graduates of Secondary Schools.
7. See HSLDA, Homeschool Priorities in the 112th
Congress (available at www.hslda.org/docs/news/
8. Brandon Waddell, Bringing It All Back Home: Establishing a Coherent Constitutional Framework
for the Re-regulation of Homeschooling, 63 Vand.
L. Rev. 541, 547 (2010).
9. HSLDA, Paper: Death by Homeschooling (Apr.
12, 2012) (available at www.hslda.org/hs/state/