Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » FAIT ACCOMPLI

FAIT ACCOMPLI

Filed at 5:39 am under by dcobranchi

I don’t know what to make of this. HSLDA has managed to get a homeschool amendment into must-pass legislation. The 2006 Defense Appropriation has already passed both houses and is headed for conference. The language is significantly different from the HONDA bill:

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.

Some folks think that this may lead to a national database of all HEKs. I don’t buy that. And, for the most part, this amendment seems relatively harmless. Not so, Section (c). The DoD is going to come up with a single set of criteria to determine who is and who isn’t a home education graduate for the purposes of military recruitng. That’ll be a difficult to impossible task. Given the myriad state home education laws, I can’t imagine what a widely-applicable set of guidelines would even look like. And then there’s the slippery slope, of course. Once defined, there’s no way that other federal agencies won’t glom onto that same definition to determine eligibility for all sorts of things having nothing to do with the military. How ’bout student loans? Or even college acceptance at schools receiving federal funds? This is no good, at all. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much if anything we can do about it. I’m sure HSLDA is behind it, and the conference committee is dominated by conservative Republicans.

We’re screwed.

UPDATE: Here’s some additional info via HEM-Networking. Basically, the bill is headed for a conference committee. The members of the Senate side of the committee are listed at the link above. The House has evidently not yet appointed its members to the committee. Probably the only way to fight this would be to lobby the members (both House and Senate) of the conference committee. Once it gets out of committee, it will pass both houses overwhelmingly. As the amendment only appears in the Senate version, I’d guess our best shot at killing this would be for home education supporters to encourage their House members to stick with the House version (HR 1815) instead of the amended Senate version (S 1042). Alternatively, we could try to convince a sympathetic Senator on the committee to pull the language in Section 522. This would appear to me to be a long shot as HSLDA no doubt will be riding herd on this one quite closely.

UPDATE: I just spoke to Tom in Senator Joe Lieberman’s office. During the primary season, Lieberman put in an appearance at the Bowlerama in New Castle, DE at the same time as the homeschool outing. IOW, there were a lot of HEKs there cheering him on. I mentioned this to Tom and expressed our strong concern about this bill. Tom is available at (202) 224-4041 Option 2.

24 Responses to “FAIT ACCOMPLI”


Comment by
Helen
November 29th, 2005
at 5:57 am

How’s the rest of that go? “…glued, and tatooed?”

I’ve never been one for “I told you so’s,” but I think we lost this war a long, long time ago. HSLDA has been driving to control all homeschooling for many years, and this effectively gives them the control they seek.

The future’s going to be interesting. Scary, but interesting.


Comment by
COD
November 29th, 2005
at 8:09 am

Maybe Scott didn’t really go to Europe. Maybe he was deep undercover working on this. Come on Scott, we need vacation pictures to prove your innocence 😉

At the pace government changes, our kids will be safely into adulthood by the time this makes any real difference. Sucks for the next generation though.


Comment by
Scott W. Somerville
November 29th, 2005
at 9:57 am

I’ve got vacation pictures! Come on, guys: I was in Paris, stirring up riots.

To be honest, I’m surprised to see this has gotten this far. I’ve been digging through hundreds of emails and catching up on phone calls, but I hadn’t heard about this item.

For what it’s worth, I’ve tried to be VERY forthright about this issue. I’ve repeatedly explained that HSLDA is committed to making sure that homeschool grads can enlist without having to get a GED or 15 college credits.

I’ve read the discussion about our motives for that (is it “Farris’s Christian Army” or a secret plot to “federalize homeschooling”), but it’s a lot simpler than that: we have 80,000 member families, and a significant fraction of them want to be able to enlist with the same options as traditional high school graduates.

You folks may be able to derail this at the Conference Committee level, but it would also be useful to start considering ways to HELP the military get this as right as possible, while limiting the risk that their new policy will metastasize into a federal takeover of home education. I know that Valerie could be immensely helpful on that front, if she would be willing to tackle it.


Comment by
Daryl
November 29th, 2005
at 10:38 am

How does Section (c) accomplish the goal of getting HEKs into the military? Come on, Scott– Can YOU even imagine a set of criteria that all HSLDA members, let alone all the various flavors of HEKs, could meet? Unless the lone criterion is HSLDA membership, that is.


Comment by
Spunky
November 29th, 2005
at 11:11 am

Thanks for update. I didn’t things had gotten to this point.

Scott I see what you are hoping. But do you believe that the way the military defines homeschooling will not have an impact on homeschooling in general?

Isn’t part of the responsibility of HSLDA to make sure that this doesn’t happen?

How is HSLDA guarding against this from turning into “federalized” homeschooling or a universal definition?


Comment by
Mary
November 29th, 2005
at 1:11 pm

I respectfully disagree, Daryl. I do not see any way for the Secretary of Defense to ascertain “identification of a graduate of home schooling for purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces” without some sort of registry of homeschooled ‘graduates’. Do you? And with the Secretary determining by what criteria, that could be anything from a homeschool group, such as HSLDA, to the local public schools who already report their student information to the Defense Department for purposes of recruitment and enlistment. Young people are required to register at 18 with the Selective Service so it can be assumed this is primarily aimed at those too young to register but not in the public education systems data base.

I also disagree that it’s too late to do anything about this. Just because we arrive at the game late, doesn’t mean we cannot score runs in the last innings. Giving up is what the proponents of Section 522 would like. Are you suggesting surrendering to those who want our homeschooled children to be part of the military and will stop at nothing to single them out for recruitment and enlistment? It’s not over until the President signs it into law.

Of course, HSLDA is riding herd on this one. They are our self-appointed lobbyist dedicated to watching every bill on Capital Hill and informing our community of legislation which may affect our homeschools. With Rick Santorum’s close relationship (himself a homeschooler with a PHC intern living in his home helping to homeschool his own children) with HSLDA does anyone believe HSLDA was caught unaware about Section 522 being inserted into the national Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006?

Some day, HSLDA will quit hiding behind the ’80,000 members’ and admit that HSLDA represents HSLDA. Does anyone think HSLDA’s members have any say in how HSLDA is run? Or what issues they lobby for and against? Get real! They’re not even permitted to speak on the web site they pay for.


Comment by
Tad
November 29th, 2005
at 1:16 pm

If this bill is designed to make it possible for people who want to join the military to be able to do so without having to pass the GED or acquire 15 credits, then it should be possible to develop a set of criteria (standardized test results, portfolio, etc.) that will form an acceptable measure of academic competence. Heck, they could just prescribe minimum scores on the ASVAB and apply it accross the board to all enlistees; thereby eliminating the socially promoted and graduated public school kids who were failed by the public system. Or a portfolio that demonstates a minimum amount of work towards equivilent Carnegie credits. (Who will evaluate the portfolio is a different question, as is what the minima and course requirements will be.) Creating such a standard around the different home education laws of the 50 states shouldn’t prove any more difficult than working with the HS graduation requirements of 50 states, which are all different. This process will simply add additional criteria by which the educational equivilent of a high school diloma can be determined. They will probably come up with a list of several options to choose from. Excelcior College in New York has a system like this for granting college credit.

Developing a multiplicity of mechanism to measure academic accomplishment is a good thing. It is certainly better than relying on the vaunted high school diploma and GED as the only measures. Will it impact the general definition of homeschool? Only to the extent that it will broaden the avenues that HEKs desiring to enlist may follow to reach that objective. Those not desiring to enlist needn’t bother themselves.

My concern is that the language specifically names homeschool, rather than a more general term, like say, “alternative education requirements.” I know a man who dropped out of high school in his senior year because he was bored to death. He wanted to enlist. He aced the ASVAB and nearly aced the Navy’s Nuclear Field Qualifying Test; qualifying for the most academically demanding occupational speciality in any of the branches. The navy wanted him. But the lack of a diploma kept him out. An alternative standard of academic performance would have served both the service and the man. (As it turns out, the man later received a diploma from an adult night high school and enlisted. He graduated 8th in his class of 256 from Naval Nuclear Power School– which has a 50% fail-out rate — and subsequently achieved the rank of Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer. He left the service after lengthy career.)

Instead of railing against this bill, lets suggest changing it to remove the homeschool specific language and open it up to all alternative learning.


Comment by
Mary
November 29th, 2005
at 2:15 pm

Scott wrote: “You folks may be able to derail this at the Conference Committee level, but it would also be useful to start considering ways to HELP the military get this as right as possible, while limiting the risk that their new policy will metastasize into a federal takeover of home education.”

Excuse me?!?! Where does my/our obligation to the military to ‘get it right’ come from? I do not believe I have ANY OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER to the military to set policy or help them identify homeschoolers for the purpose of recruitment and enlistment.

The threat of a federal takeover is less unnerving than a takeover by HSLDA. Might want to drop that scare tactic…


Comment by
Tad
November 29th, 2005
at 7:16 pm

Mary,

Your/our primary obligation is not to assit the military to get it right. The obligation is to the homeschool community to make sure the military (and HSLDA or any other group) doesn’t get it wrong. And I will go one step further and say that it is every citizen’s responsibility to help every organ of government to “get it right.”

The military and it’s manpower needs are not going to go away (much as we might like) any time soon. Opening doors to those who want to serve tends to lessen the pressure on the government to use coersion to fill it’s quotas.

As to the question of how the “Secretary of Defense [will] ascertain ‘identification of a graduate of home schooling for purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces’ without some sort of registry of homeschooled ‘graduates’.” That’s an easy one. Put a check box on the enlistment form, then have the prospective enlistee provide the required proof of academic achievement. (That’s how they determine if a prospect graduated from a public high school. They look at his diploma.)


Comment by
Daryl
November 29th, 2005
at 7:28 pm

it should be possible to develop a set of criteria (standardized test results, portfolio, etc.) that will form an acceptable measure of academic competence.

But the bill doesn’t attempt to prove competence. It only speaks of homeschool graduates. G-schoolers can prove they’ve graduated (with or without any competence) by showing their diploma. Not so for most of our kids.

As to the question of how the “Secretary of Defense [will] ascertain ‘identification of a graduate of home schooling for purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces’ without some sort of registry of homeschooled ‘graduates’.” That’s an easy one. Put a check box on the enlistment form, then have the prospective enlistee provide the required proof of academic achievement.

Required proof? There’s the rub. So the DoD will decide what constitutes proof of adequate academic achievment for essentailly all HEKs. And the rest of the federal government will gladly follow along. I don’t think this amendment could have been any worse if the NEA had written it. With friends like HSLDA…


Comment by
Mary
November 29th, 2005
at 8:09 pm

I certainly can’t guarantee that we can get the section removed, but I think we owe it to ourselves and future generations to try.

If anyone is intersted, I’ve blogged my thoughts about it at the HEM Support Group News- homeed.../?p=36

We should let the legislators(especially those assigned to the joint conference committee as conferees) know not only that there many of us who object to this amendment, but also to it being added during the last hour in this manner. Let’s not let the lateness of the news stop our good grass roots activism.

Mary N.


Comment by
Tad
November 29th, 2005
at 10:36 pm

Daryl, If the NEA had written it, they would have made it to certify all HEKs as uneducated ignoramouses, and to exclude them from everything. We agree that a high school diploma is just short of worthless in terms of certifying academic achievement. Nevertheless, it is the standard currently in place. What is needed is a standard of academic achievement that actually means something, that HEKs can use, but not necessarily directed spefically toward HEKs. The alternative is to exclude HEKs from service or to eliminate all standards for enlistment. Some might be comfortable with the former, but the latter is absurd. To the point of being dangerous.

This is not about defining HEK’s or setting standards for their achievement, its about setting the standards for who will fix and operate the radar that vectors in an F/A18 to the flight deck of the USS Nimitz, who programs the guidance system on a tomahawk missle, who balances the load in a C5A cargo plane, or who gets to drive the M1 tank and figure out who or what to shoot at.

The fact that this bill seeks to open a door or two for HEKs acknowledges the fact that HEKs are indeed educated; it directs the secretary of defense to find a way to measure and certify it.

In the final analysis, the measure of how well educated an individual is comes down to what he/she is able to do with what they’ve learned and experienced. I’ve seen Ph.D.s that couldn’t operate a screwdriver. I’ve seen dropouts achieve great things. At the same time, an employer has every right to set standards for whom he hires to fill a specific job. The military is, in reality, an employer looking for employees.

My argument is that there should be a standard of academic achievement to qualify for enlistment which could be applied to any prospect, not a standard that singles out HEKs for special consideration.


Comment by
Jeanne
November 29th, 2005
at 11:03 pm

You know, my homeschooled friend who joined the navy without a diploma, a “graduation” or a curriculum, because they wanted his computer and ciphering skills, would be surprised to learn that “there should be a standard of academic achievement to qualify for enlistment” beyond what he was able to demonstrate to the navy without problems, using existing measures.


Comment by
Daryl
November 30th, 2005
at 4:34 am

Tad,

I’d have no priblem with them using ASVAB results (since only those wanting to enlist would take the test). Unfortunately, that’s not the way 522 is written. It gives the SecDef complete freedom to determine the criteria. If he chose HSLDA “certification” that’d be it. This is all about a power grab by HSLDA. They want to be the “chosen ones” to certify homeschool graduates. You think that’d legitimize their claim to speak for all home educating families?

522 must be stopped!


Comment by
Scott W. Somerville
November 30th, 2005
at 10:51 am

Daryl, you characterize this as a “power grab by HSLDA.” I’ve been explaining to people for some time that HSLDA is committed to using its resources to making it possible for homeschool grads to enter the military without having to take a GED or 15 college credits. Is that what you mean by a “power grab,” or are you saying that HSLDA is using this military issue as a cover for something else?


Comment by
Mary
November 30th, 2005
at 12:53 pm

> We agree that a high school diploma is just short of worthless in terms of certifying academic achievement.

Who’s “we”. I only see one name signed there, Tad.

>The fact that this bill seeks to open a door or two for HEKs acknowledges the fact that HEKs are indeed educated

To create criteria home-educated kids are expected to meet set by the DOD because a handful of selfish, self-centered, myopic, immature children want to have it their way is a Pyrrhic victory. Governments everywhere will be using ‘this great policy the DOD has to define what a graduate is.’ If these children want to join the military let them do it the old fashioned way –by proving their merit. I should add my homeschooled son enlisted in the Navy in the ‘80s without any problem. Perhaps the military is leery of the kind of young person HSLDA is promoting as military material. Considered that?

>In the final analysis,

What analysis?


Comment by
Tad
November 30th, 2005
at 3:38 pm

This rhetoric is getting a bit histrionic.

Mary, if you will re-read my post and Daryl’s before that, you will notice that my comment was addressed to Daryl and directed in response to some of Daryl’s earlier comments. You are also either completely missing a major portion of my point, or you are choosing to ignore it. I agree with you (and Daryl and everyone else) that this should not be allowed to define what a “Homeschool Graduate” is. Any reference to homeschool should be removed from the bill! Okay? The word homeschool shouldn’t even be in the same county as this bill.

Jeanne, your friend, like mine, probably either had a diploma, a GED or was able to garner the 15 credits. The computer skills you describe are probably 60 or more semester hours of credit.

Daryl, I don’t think HSLDA speaks for us all, nor would I have them as my spokesman. As Scott will tell you, I’ve argued similar questions with him in the past from the opposite side. I’ve even gotten him to concede a point or two from time to time. I oppose prescriptive language in any legislation that attempts to define what home education is, what it needs to accomplish, or what standards it should be measured by. But that is not my point in this discussion.

My point, as succinctly as I can put it: Section 522, in its present form is bad– very bad– and for all the reasons that have been presented here. But it’s intention is not bad. It’s intention is to a.)set an alternative standard (or set of standards) for enlistment qualification to broaden the pool of potential recruits (the military’s need), and b.)open the doors for those who want to enlist and are capable of doing the job, but don’t meet the current requirements (the need of a sub-set of the homeschool population, plus a few others that aren’t homeschoolers). My solution is to get rid of any reference to homeschool or any thing that could be construed as a reference to homeschool from the bill, and make it something that can be used by anyone wishing to enlist without reference to where they obtained their education.

I don’t think it likely that HSLDA will end up being the de facto “certifier of academic achievment.” There is too much obvious bias and conflict of interest, and DoD already has an internal organ that is quite capable of expanding it’s current role to cover this. My guess is that the Secretary will use DANTES and develop an extention to their Military Evaluations Program which currently evaluates military training for college credit in conjunction with the American Council on Education. If they go that direction, then the concern about it being adopted by other federal agencies is moot. If they decide to allow outside agencies to pass on a particular prospect’s suitability for enlistment, then there will probably be more than one certifying authority, and there will likely be a requirement of neutrality. Even if HSLDA is using this as a power grab, I doubt it will succeed.

So, yes ladies and laddies, write to your congressman and your senator and tell them to get rid of section 522, or ask them to change it to not be homeschool specific. I already have.


Comment by
Daryl
November 30th, 2005
at 3:39 pm

Daryl, you characterize this as a “power grab by HSLDA.”…Is that what you mean by a “power grab,” or are you saying that HSLDA is using this military issue as a cover for something else?

Cover for something else. The language is more obscure than the blatant grab for the brass ring exhibited in HONDA, but it’s just the same. I have absolutely zero doubt that if this passes, HSLDA will be lobbying HARD for the SecDef to declare that HSLDA is an (the?) arbiter for who is a legitimate homeschool grad. Y’all tried it explicitly in HONDA. This is the backdoor approach.

Stop 522!


Comment by
Mrs_Tommie
November 30th, 2005
at 5:46 pm

To HSLDA and Scott:

This is one time HSLDA is not representing THIS member family. We’re former/retired Army and I think the idea of allowing DoD to define my child’s education absolutely stinks. Let the individual’s state define the graduate. Let the ASVAB do it’s job of determining aptitude for different militar career fields.


Comment by
Jeanne
November 30th, 2005
at 9:03 pm

Tad said, “Jeanne, your friend, like mine, probably either had a diploma, a GED or was able to garner the 15 credits.”

Nope. He was a homeschooled kid who unschooled his way to his computer skills. He met with the recruiter, took tests, his mom wrote out a list of the stuff he did, and he took more tests. No “credits.” No GED. No diploma. He has one of those super-techie “if I tell you about it I have to kill you” jobs on a nuclear sub, stationed in Hawaii, and has excelled in the service.


Comment by
Scott W. Somerville
December 1st, 2005
at 1:57 pm

From a business standpoint, Daryl, do you really think HSLDA will drum up a bunch of new dues-paying members by saying, “Pay your $100 to us each year and we’ll get your kid in the Army”? I’m all for increasing our membership, but I don’t see this as a big “membership drive” opportunity.

HSLDA’s reason for pushing this issue is NOT to gain new members, but to serve our existing members. A fraction of the homeschool community wants to be able to enlist in the military without a GED or 15 hours of college credits. This may or may not be wise, but HSLDA has committed itself to making it possible.


Comment by
Daryl
December 1st, 2005
at 3:42 pm

RED HERRING! I never mentioned money. It’s all about power, Scott. HSLDA (Farris, et al.) want to be THE voice of homeschooling everywhere. An official designation as a (the?) DoD “homeschool accreditation agency” would go a long way towards that, wouldn’t you say?

Tell you what, Scott, I’ll make you a deal. If Farris or M. Smith will take a “Sherman,” I’ll stop my opposition.

I won’t be holding my breath.


Comment by
Tad
December 1st, 2005
at 6:56 pm

Jeanne, “…his mom wrote out a list of the stuff he did, and he took more tests…” is a portfolio submission and either a CLEP or a test for credit program like Excelsior (formerly Regents) College in New York uses. He garnered the 15 credits. Any Navy recruiter would be well versed in doing this. I have another friend that managed to acquire a BS in Sociology from Regents College without ever having cracked a sociology text book, and was subsequently commissioned as a Naval Officer. I spent enough time in the Navy to know how the system works.


Comment by
Jeanne
December 1st, 2005
at 7:24 pm

Tad, if your premise that the Navy recruiter did it without the mom or kid putting forth any effort, it still makes my point. The kid and the mom were able, under CURRENT regs and with little to no burden, to show that he was valuable to the Navy, without other homeschoolers becoming beholden to a definition of “homeschool graduate” developed on a federal basis. He unschooled. I wonder if under the proposed regs, especially if administrated/affected in any way by a homeschool org or government bias that favors using an approved curriculum/program, this young man would have qualified for the service?

My concern is that attempting to codify may take away opportunities for some young people while providing opportunities for others. That doesn’t seem like a good thing to me.

I have three unschooled sons including two older teens. I’m not seeing any way that this would help them if they wish to enlist in the military, but I am seeing that it could be detrimental to their efforts.