Congress Will Require Home Schoolers To Be Certified Teachers

Author: Michael P. Farris

U R G E N T A L E R T !


February 15, 1994

Analysis by: Michael P. Farris, Esq. President Home School Legal Defense Association


1. H.R. 6, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will require home school parents (and all private school teachers) to be certified teachers.

2. H.R. 6 will come before the House of Representatives for a vote on February 24.

3. It is imperative that all home schoolers call their Congressman/woman immediately to urge: (1) that H.R. 6 be defeated; or (2) that the "Home School/Private Education Freedom Amendment" be adopted.


On February 24, the United States House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This bill, H.R. 6, is also know as the "Improving America's Schools Act of 1994."

This bill contains the most dangerous assault on the freedom of home schools and private schools ever seen in recent history. Specifically H.R. 6 contains a provision which may be interpreted to require all home school parents to be certified teachers, which is an effective ban on home education for more than 99% of all home schoolers.

A recent, surprise amendment to H.R. 6 was added at the request of Congressman George Miller (D-CA). This amendment is # 2124(e):

ASSURANCE.--Each State applying for funds under this title shall provide the Secretary with assurance that after July 1, 1998, it will require each local education agency within the State to certify that each full time teacher in schools under the jurisdiction of the agency is certified to teach in the subject area to which he or she is assigned.

The definition of "school must be gleaned by referring to the definition of "elementary school" and "secondary school."

# 9101 (11) The term `elementary school' means a nonprofit day or residential school that provides elementary education, as determined under State law.

# 9101 (20) The term `secondary school' means a nonprofit day or residential school that provides secondary education, as determined under State law, except that it does not include any education beyond grade 12.

These definitions are identical to existing law with one crucial exception: the word "nonprofit" has been added by H.R. 6.

Prior to this time, it was unclear whether or not private schools were included within the definitional sections of this law. By adding the word "nonprofit" to this definition, it is very clear that the intent of the law is to add all forms of private education to the federal definition of school.

If this were not enough, one must consider an amendment that Congressman Dick Armey proposed. It read:

Nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize or encourage Federal control over the curriculum or practices of any private, religious, or home school.

This proposed amendment was rejected by a straight partyline vote. (all Democrats voted against the amendment, all Republicans voted for it). I was told by committee staff that the reason this amendment was rejected had nothing to do with homeschooling, but was aimed at private schooling. Encouraging federal control over private education will both directly and indirectly harm home education. Furthermore, it is simply unacceptable to establish federal control over any branch of private education.

If this section passes, we will argue that this section should be interpreted to only apply to public schools. However, we must consider how local and state officials will interpret # 2124(e). They will likely construe it as follows:

Home schools are "schools within the meaning of this definition because they are nonprofit day or residential schools which provide elementary or secondary education. Further, all schools which have any statutory duty to interact with a public school agency (i.e. report any information whatsoever to a public school agency), will be deemed to be a school "under the jurisdiction" of a local education agency. This includes the vast majority of home schools in most states. Therefore, home schools are schools which are required to be taught by teachers who are "certified to teach in the subject area to which he or she is assigned."

Not only must home schoolers be certified teachers, we must be certified in elementary education to teach elementary grades, and we must be certified in every subject to be allowed to teach secondary education. Even the vast majority of currently certified teachers would be banned form home schooling their children at some point in their education. It is likely that no parent in America would be qualified to home school their own children in the secondary grades.

If all of this weren't enough, this bill contains provisions which will encourage, if not mandate, Outcome-Based Education in every state. Title I of H.R. 6 requires state standards which "specify what children served under this title are expected to know and be able to do." # 1111 (b)(1)(A)(i)(I). It is required that children who are subject to this Title are to be subject to "standards [which are] as challenging and of the same high-quality as they are for all children." # 1111 (b)(1)(A). In other words, for some schools to get Title I funds, there must be a singular set of standards imposed on all schools.

There is little question that this Federal encouragement of OBE (or some other similar form of lockstep uniform standards) will be attempted to be imposed on home schools. The National Association of State Boards of Education recently declared:

Whether home schooling is regulated through state board actions or state statutes, decision makers should insure that polices have the following components:

* Specific provisions for insuring the competency of the instructor (e.g. teacher/instructor certification or certified teacher visits to home school site to observe instruction, minimum education requirements).

* Assurance that policies with regard to home schooling are aligned with the state's current outcome-based standards and graduation requirements.