August 9, 2009
RE: HSLDA and the U. S. Military
Recent events and respected publications are bringing to light the unprecedented depth of change the theopolitical agenda has created in our government. Homeschooling is always included in assessments of these actions because it is an intrinsic part of the theopolical agenda. Therefore, as homeschooling families we need to recognize our involvement and the inevitable confusion it raises in the public's mind. We need to prepare ourselves to answer some very difficult questions.
A split in homeschooling along religious lines was orchestrated in the late 1980's with the creation of a dedicated, structured organization designed specifically to advance an exclusionary protestant movement. Since that time the exclusivist organizations have advanced their political agenda in ways that have affected all homeschool families, and, if left unchecked, may eventually bring us all under the umbrella of conservative Protestant political leaders who are setting federal government homeschooling standards.
A LITTLE HISTORY
In 1999, Home School Legal Defense Association announced in their Court Report publication that they were assisting their members who wanted to join the military to negotiate the difficulties they were encountering because they were homeschooled. That’s a good thing. That’s what HSLDA is supposed to do: assist their members with problems they encounter because of their homeschooling. (Military Recruitment of Home Schoolers Increasing, The Home School Court Report, HSLDA July/August 1999, http://www.hslda.org/courtreport/v15n4/v15n410.asp) They wrote:
“Home School Legal Defense Association is working with the Recruiting Commands of all four armed services to monitor and expand the opportunities for home schoolers for specific jobs, benefits, and college scholarships. Officers from the Recruiting Commands will address state home school leaders at HSLDA’s annual leaders conference. Our office has heard from a number of parents whose children have now been accepted into the military in spite of being previously rebuffed simply for being home schoolers.”
HOME SCHOOL NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT OF 2005 (HoNDA)
However, it became clear in 2005 that HSLDA was not just helping their members, they were attempting to set government policy for ALL homeschooled students. In 2005, their second attempt to introduce their Home School Non Discrimination Act (HoNDA) included language that would have enabled HSLDA as the certification agency for the U. S. military of homeschool graduates, including language identifying a “home school certificate or diploma”:
SEC. 10. RECRUITMENT AND ENLISTMENT OF HOME SCHOOLED STUDENTS IN THE ARMED FORCES.
(a) Policy on Recruitment and Enlistment
(1) IN GENERAL – The Secretary concerned shall prescribe a policy for the recruitment and enlistment of home schooled students I the Armed Force or Armed Forces under the jurisdiction of such Secretary.
(2) UNIFORMITY ACROSS THE ARMED FORCES – The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that the policies prescribed under paragraph (1) apply, to the extent practicable, uniformity across the Armed Forces.
(b) Elements – The policy under subsection (a) shall included the following:
(1) An identification of a graduate of home schooling for the purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces that is in accordance with the requirements described in subsection (c).
(2) Provision for the treatment of graduates of home schooling with Tier I status with no practical limit with regard to enlistment.
(3) An exemption of graduates of home schooling from the requirement for a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent (GED) as a precondition for enlistment in the Armed Forces.
(c) Home School Graduates – In identifying a graduate of home schooling for the purposes of subsection (b), the Secretary concerned shall ensure that the graduate meets each of the follow requirements:
(1) The home school graduate has taken the Armed Forces Qualification Test and scored 50 or above.
(2) The home school graduated has provided the Secretary concerned with –
(A) a signed home school notice of intent that conforms with the State law of the State where the graduate resided when the graduate resided when the graduate was in home school; or
(B) a home school certificate or diploma from –
(i) the parent or guardian of the graduate; or
(ii) a national curriculum provider.
(3) The home school graduate has provided the Secretary concerned with a copy of the graduate’s transcript for all secondary school grades completed. The transcript shall—
(A) Include the enrollment date, graduation date, and type of curriculum; and
(B) Reflect successful completion of the last full academic year of schooling from the home school national curriculum provider, parent, or guardian issuing the home school certificate or diploma or home school notice of intent form.
(4) The home school curriculum used by the home school graduate involved parental instruction and supervision and closely patterned the normal credit hours per subject as used in traditional secondary school.
(5) The home school graduate has provided the Secretary concerned with a third party verification letter of the graduate’s home school status by the Home School Legal Defense Association or a State or county home school association or organization. [emphasis added]
When it became apparent that HoNDA would never leave committee, HSLDA induced their friends in Congress to place the language in H. R. 1815, THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006. The language reads:
Section 522: RECRUITMENT AND ENLISTMENT OF HOME SCHOOLED STUDENTS IN THE ARMED FORCES (a) Policy on Recruitment and Enlistment- (1) POLICY REQUIRED- The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe a policy on the recruitment and enlistment of home schooled students in the Armed Forces. (2) UNIFORMITY ACROSS THE ARMED FORCES- The Secretary shall ensure that the policy prescribed under paragraph (1) applies, to the extent practicable, uniformly across the Armed Forces. (b) Elements- The policy under subsection (a) shall include the following: (1) An identification of a graduate of home schooling for purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces that is in accordance with the requirements described in subsection (c). (2) Provision for the treatment of graduates of home schooling with no practical limit with regard to enlistment eligibility. (3) An exemption of graduates of home schooling from the requirement for a secondary school diploma or an equivalent (GED) as a precondition for enlistment in the Armed Forces. (c) Home School Graduates- In prescribing the policy, the Secretary of Defense shall prescribe a single set of criteria to be utilized by the Armed Forces in determining whether an individual is a graduate of home schooling. The Secretary concerned shall ensure compliance with education credential coding requirements.
(d) Secretary Concerned Defined- In this section, the term `Secretary concerned' has the meaning given such term in section 101(a)(9) of title 10, United States Code.
Clearly, HSLDA was attempting to place themselves in a position of governance over all homeschoolers as the arbiter of homeschool graduation. For the first time, the term “homeschool diploma” would be written into law as viable proof of a student’s homeschool completion status. HSLDA has no authority to grant a “homeschool diploma”. With the military expecting a homeschool student to have a “homeschool diploma” how far behind could colleges and employers be? And where would a student get that verification except from HSLDA? Lobbying by the homeschool community resulted in the “homeschool diploma” requirement being removed from the Appropriations bill before passage. Sadly, that was not to be the end of it .
To learn more about HoNDA and HSLDA’s efforts to place homeschooling into federal legislation and law mandating a “homeschool diploma” please visit: http://hr3753.blogspot.com/
It has been suggested that HSLDA is attempting to “license” homeschooling in the future by setting standards by which they will issue a certified “homeschool diploma”. In that only HSLDA and it’s approved support groups will have government authorization to issue that certificate, homeschool students faced with the demand for a “homeschool diploma” will have no place else to turn. HSLDA’s rhetoric about parental rights and freedoms seems hollow when they are also setting up standards and assuming the power of creating a diploma and issuing it at their discretion based on their self-imposed standards. The last thing homeschoolers want is more legislative requirements moving towards licensing or a certificate, yet that seems to be where they are heading. And it’s something we, as a community, need to put an end to before it even gets suggested.
WE’RE FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU.
However, HSLDA has continued to work with the military to write into regulations the “homeschool diploma” requirement. Indeed, the Marine Recruitment manual includes a section entitled, “Home School Diploma” which reads:
“A high school diploma or certificate, typically awarded by a local, state or national accredited Home School Association, based upon certification of a parent or guardian that an individual competed his/her secondary education at home...The Home School Legal Defense Association has provided guidance to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense…All home school diploma graduates must complete the last academic year of education in a home school environment.” (emphasis added). (U.S. Marines, Military Personnel Procurement Manual, Volume 2 Enlisted Procurement, Section C12, Tier H1, “Home School Diploma.)
Note the requirement of a ‘Home School Diploma” by the Marine Corps. They are requiring a non-accredited diploma as part of the enlistment process. One that is “typically awarded by a local, state or national accredited home school association.” (emphasis added)
HOMESCHOOL PATH TO HONOR FOR ENLISTED PERSONNEL
Which brings us to the current complicated situation. HSLDA has been working with the National Guard to recruit homeschooled students for them, creating a program entitled, “Homeschool Path to Honor”:
“To be eligible for the National Guard Homeschool Path to Honor, all applicants must be non-prior service (NPS) Army Home Study Diploma (AHSCH) juniors, seniors, and graduates or the equivalent would include AHSCH students with a valid GED as well as currently enrolled college students with a AHSCH diploma. In addition, a qualified AHSCH graduate will possess ONE or more of the following (a., b., or c., as applicable): (Author’s Note: AHSCH is the military acronym for Alternative High School Credential Holder, not Army Home Study Diploma.)
A homeschool diploma and transcript from the State Department of Education or a state-wide homeschool association in whose graduation ceremony the homeschool student participated (for a listing of homeschool associations go to www.hslda.org).
A homeschool diploma and transcript from a private homeschool correspondence course or homeschool curriculum developer. Must include the enrollment date, graduation date, and type of curriculum.
A homeschool diploma and transcript from the parent(s) or guardian(s) accompanied by a third party verification memorandum. Only one third party verification memorandum is necessary. The following are only examples of third party verification:
1. A memorandum from the State Department of Education or local public school district verifying compliance of the homeschool graduate's program with the State compulsory attendance law.
2. A memorandum from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (if the family is a member in good standing) verifying that the homeschool graduate's program was in compliance with the State's compulsory attendance law.
3. A memorandum or transcript from a private school program who sponsored the homeschool program. The memorandum should include enrollment date, completion date, and type of curriculum.
4. A memorandum or academic assessment report from a certified educational consultant, a State certified teacher, a private school teacher, or a person with a graduate degree in education that verifies completion of homeschool coursework or portfolio.” (National Guard Homeschool Path to Honor: Eligibility Requirements. http:hslda.org/highschool/military-ng.asp)
Perhaps the most important point of all this HSLDA/Military policy creation is that it applies to ALL homeschool students. Your family is affected by the “homeschool diploma” requirement whether you are a member of HSLDA, one of their support groups or no support group of any kind. Your son or daughter will be expected to produce a “homeschool diploma” if they apply for the military because HSLDA has convinced the Armed Forces a home school diploma exists and has some sort of accreditation process backing it up.
HSLDA has placed homeschooling requirements into federal policy in direct conflict with their stated goal of eliminating federal interference in homeschooling. And they have backed it up with a worthless requirement for a “homeschool diploma”.
HOME SCHOOL PATH FOR MILITARY OFFICERS
In 2003 Patrick Henry College, part of HSLDA, announced the formation of a U. S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). (http://www.patrickhenrycollege.edu/PHCNews_2003_12_18.php) ]
“Upon graduation from Army ROTC, you will earn the bar of a Second Lieutenant and be commissioned into the Active Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard and become a leader for life.” (http://www.goarmy.com/rotc/)
The commission is given to all ROTC students, but those from Patrick Henry College are screened to assure their fundamentalist credentials though the admission requirements. (http://www.phc.edu/Application_Requirements.php)
PHC’s Non-Discrimination Statement further assures their religious credentials: “The College shall maintain its constitutional and statutory right to discriminate on the basis of religion in order to accomplish the religious mission of the college.” (http://www.phc.edu/nondiscrimination.php).
It is important to note that Article VI of the U. S. Constitution mandates that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
WHY HAS HSLDA INVOLVED HOMESCHOOLING WITH THE MILITARY?
A legitimate question. Can HSLDA serve homeschool families and the U. S. Military and why would they even want to? Perhaps the answer can be found at Bill Bright’s Military Ministry site: (http://www.militaryministry.org/about/strategic-objectives/)
“Guiding our leadership are six strategic objectives – the Six Pillars of Military Ministry – which together define the groups of people we serve and the scope of our programs and plans.
1. Evangelize and Disciple All Enlisted Members of the US Military. Ministry at each basic training center and beyond. Transform our culture through the US Military.
2. Develop Christian Military Leaders for the 21st Century. Spiritual development of future military officers and enlisted leaders at service academies, hundreds of ROTC universities, and operational locations around the world.
3. Stop the Unraveling of the Military Family. Forge healthy families for the next generation of military children through seminars, resources, and support groups at installations around the world.
4. Arm Troops in Harm’s Way with Spiritual Resources. A Bible in every foxhole. Resources to empower Chaplains in every Service of the Armed Forces. Networks to keep service members connected during their entire careers.
5. Global Online Evangelism, Discipleship, and Leader Training for Military Personnel around the world. Touch hundreds of thousands with the Gospel and link them to resources and counseling.
6. Change Continents for Christ. Transform nations of world through the militaries of world. Train, Equip, and Partner with indigenous leaders to establish strategic sending platforms in each region of world.
For those who want to learn more about the influence of evangelicals on the U. S. military an excellent book is “With God on Our Side, One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military” by Michael L. Weinstein and Davin Seay. Published in 2006 the book chronicles realization through action by Michael Weinstein as he grappled with both his own and his children’s experiences with the overt Christianization at the U. S. Air Force Academy and it’s far-reaching effects all the way to the Pentagon. The book is available from Mr. Weinstein’s foundation, http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/
A BREWING NATIONAL STORM ON THE HORIZON
There is a possibility now that the Home School Legal Defense Association’s relationship with the military may become a national issue. One that homeschoolers should have knowledge of and be prepared for.
With the publication of a new book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet, people have begun to sit up and pay attention to the relationship between religion and our government. While Mr. Sharlet does not include the Christianization of the military, he does include an entire chapter on homeschooling, focusing on the Christian school and homeschool movements. He does not seem to be aware that non Christians homeschool, instead concentrating on Patrick Henry College, Generation Joshua and other facets of theocentric education, including a profile of Doug Phillips’ Vision Quest. (Jeff Sharlet, “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, New York: Harper Perennial, 2008; Chapter 13: Unschooling.)
Similarly, a 65 page exposé entitled, The “Christian” Mafia: Where Those Who Now Run the U.S. Government Came From and Where They Are Taking Us” by Wayne Madsen links homeschooling to the theocratic agenda on the Internet: http://www.insider-magazine.com:80/ChristianMafia.htm
The influence of the conservative fundamentalist Protestants on our government is becoming an issue Americans will learn a lot about in the next few months. Do the associations of Michael Farris to other leaders, such as Bill Bright of Military Ministry, the key player in the Christianization of the U. S. Military, link HSLDA and its theocratic agenda to all homeschoolers? Homeschoolers may to find ourselves squarely in the middle of what may become a government investigation into fundamentalist Protestant influence of our government. HSLDA has been recruiting for the military and assisting religiously vetted people to enter the military, both as enlisted personnel and officers, so they may “influence the military for Christ”. ((Military Recruitment of home Schoolers Increasing, The Home School Court Report, HSLDA July/August 1999, http://www.hslda.org/courtreport/v15n4/v15n410.asp)
WILL HOMESCHOOLING BE AFFECTED?
This issue is so much more than a kerfuffle over HSLDA’s efforts to control homeschooling with a “homeschool diploma”; it’s about a fundamentalist coup in the U. S. Military, something every American that expects the U. S. Military to defend the U. S. Constitution should be deeply concerned about.
Who knows where this will lead? Perhaps homeschoolers will get lucky and be so overshadowed by the “bigger fish” that we will be able to escape connection to this growing scandal. Perhaps not. Either way, we need to be aware of what is happening, knowledgeable enough about it to answer the inevitable questions and struggle to maintain our separation of homeschooling and the state.