Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama And HSLDA

I've been catching up on my blog reading and it seems that this e-lert from HSLDA is causing quite a buzz among some homeschooling bloggers. It reads in part:

Despite HSLDA's efforts prior to the election to get an official statement from the Obama campaign regarding their position on homeschooling, we received no response.

So where does that leave us?

The leaders of HSLDA (the Home School Legal Defense Association) are worried about this Obama victory and the impact the new administration may have on homeschooling in the US. Interesting. Let's not forget that HSLDA is really in Justify Our Existence mode these days.

This e-lert that's causing concern goes on to make two excellent points. First, that the Democrats and the NEA are BFFs and even though Obama's campaign wouldn't respond, it's a reasonable assumption that they are not super supportive of homeschooling as such. Second, and more importantly, homeschooling is not a federal issue--it's a state concern. But there is always a danger that the feds will take a special interest in monitoring what homeschoolers are doing.

There are NO federal laws regulating homeschooling. HSLDA is correct that any attempt to establish such laws must be resisted. But until such a time, homeschooling is a state issue. So I'm not really too worried about what Barack Obama may think about it just now.

It's ironic though, that while HSLDA has raised the hue and cry against Obama and the new kids in DC on this issue, it continues to support federal tax credits for education for homeschooling families. From their Issue Analysis about Education Tax Credits (linked in the previous sentence), updated November 11, 2008:

Regardless of the education tax credit model, HSLDA continues to support and fight for education tax credits at the local, state and federal levels in order to eliminate the “double” taxation of private and homeschool parents.

As education choice is becoming more popular and vouchers — a direct governmental grant to private and charter schools — are gaining prevalence, education tax credit legislation is also increasing in volume on both a federal and a state level.

Senator David Vitter (LA) introduced The Home School Opportunities Make Education Sound Act (HOMES Act — S. 3076) in June 2008. The goal of the HOMES Act is to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an optional tax deduction for parents who choose to homeschool their children. The legislation provides for a tax deduction of $500 per child (with an annual limit of $2,000) for education related expenses, including books, supplies, academic tutoring, special needs services, and computer equipment. Families who do not itemize their tax returns would still be eligible for a similar standard deduction. Furthermore, this legislation would apply to all homeschool programs, including those in states that only have a private school statute.

Really. Support, huh? I should have said "promote."

It's almost laughable. On one hand--"Oh no! Obama won and probably doesn't support homeschooling!" On the other--"Let's introduce legislation to give the federal government an excellent reason to become more involved with homeschoolers!" It would be funnier if HSLDA weren't so good at convincing politicians that they enjoy more support from homeschooling families than they actually do.

I stand by my earlier statement against a federal education tax credit. I also suspect that if Obama (or whoever is in power in DC) wants to figure out a way to establish some level of homeschooling oversight, the very first thing they will offer us is a carrot in the form of this tax credit. It's the stick I'm concerned about. And I'm certainly not going to look to HSLDA to protect me from the ensuing beating.


Mrs. C said...

I agree completely, Jenn. Nonetheless, I do appreciate that HSLDA is an important voice defending parental rights. Being ABLE to homeschool if you like is just *part* of what parental rights are all about IMO.

I am curious about your "C- Bureau" friends, and haven't heard of late anything. :] I didn't want to type out the word in case they are googling you.

Alasandra said...

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