Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » SHOW ME THE LANGUAGE

    Filed at 10:37 am under by dcobranchi

    President Bush’s budget proposal calls for a change in Social Security that, depending on how it is worded, could affect some home educating families:

    The second change Bush proposed would terminate monthly survivor benefits for 16- and 17-year-olds who do not attend school full time. Current law requires 18-year-olds to remain in school to receive their benefits. Survivor benefits are paid in cases in which a parent has died.

    Scott Milburn, a spokesman at the administration’s Office of Management and Budget, said, “Children who have lost a parent need every assistance and encouragement we can provide, and everything the federal government can do to encourage them to stay in school and get an education makes it that much more likely that they can succeed.

    “Linking benefits to school attendance provides that encouragement and is, in fact, currently the rule for 19-year-olds. We think more children can be helped by lowering that age to 16.”

    The chances of there being any changes to Social Security during an election year are quite slim. Still, it’d probably be worth keeping an eye on the progress of these proposals as the bills get written.

    8 Responses to “SHOW ME THE LANGUAGE”

    Comment by
    Andrea R. in Missouri
    February 8th, 2006
    at 11:02 am

    Uh oh. Who do I start emailing and calling?

    My daughter receives survivor benefits and that is the only way we’re able to pay for ballet and other “extra” activities.

    I assume that HSLDA is all over this. As much as I don’t like them I may have to sign up now.

    Comment by
    Scott W. Somerville
    February 8th, 2006
    at 11:45 am

    Oddly enough, I just got out of our monthly HSLDA “Office Council” meeting where all the department heads discuss issues that affect us as an organization. We were holding up the Social Security Administration as a model for other federal agencies to watch–it has taken us about six years to get the SSA properly “trained,” but they are finally very good about continuing benefits for any homeschooled student who is in compliance with state law, whatever the state law may be.

    (This isn’t to say we don’t have to do anything: we are constantly having to help individual SSA workers learn how to follow their own agency’s protocol. But they DO have a protocol, and it does work.)

    So… you don’t have to join HSLDA just for this reason. If your SSA caseworker gives you any grief, you can email me directly (scott@hslda.org) and I’ll help you out pro bono.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    February 8th, 2006
    at 12:14 pm

    That’s very classy, Scott. (That’s NOT sarcasm.) And it’s great that SSA is “trained,” but they’re trained to the current law. My point here is that we need to be on our guard as to how this proposal is worded. What would happen if, for example, the new law read “Social Security Survivors Benefits will be cut for anyone age 16 through 18 who is not enrolled in school full-time”? That could be a major headache for homeschoolers across the country.

    As an aside, this is one of those instances where, I think, HSLDA and its critics could agree to work together to head off any language that could negatively impact homeschoolers. After all, we’re talking widows and orphans, here.

    Comment by
    Scott W. Somerville
    February 8th, 2006
    at 12:33 pm

    I’ve put up a good deal of information on HSLDA’s past interactions with SSA, and include a link to their basic policy for handling homeschool questions.

    [edited by Daryl to include the permalink to Scott’s post]

    Comment by
    Tammy Takahashi
    February 8th, 2006
    at 2:30 pm


    I have to agree with you that Scott’s offer to help for free is in very good taste. I was thinking that before I even read your reply. Thank you Scott 🙂

    As for this silly proposal, I believe you just can’t tie money in with social policy. That’s a way for the governemnt to say, “If you want our support, you have to live the way we want you to.” Survivor benefits and school attendance should have nothing to do with each other.

    I’m still amazed at *how much* news you post here Daryl. Do you spend your entire day surfing news sites? 🙂

    But, I’m glad you do. Between you and Val, I get all the news I can handle.


    Comment by
    Andrea R. in Missouri
    February 8th, 2006
    at 8:15 pm

    I’m sorry. That was rather rude of me to say that I don’t like HSLDA and not say why.

    I appreciate your offer to help should the situation arise, Scott. I don’t see any issues arising any time soon as my daughter is only seven years old. Social Security has never asked me if she is in school or not. When they do, I’ll simply say yes. We are following all Missouri laws even though we do not legally have to until next year. I thought I needed the practice with the logs and all this year.

    I do appreciate everything that HSLDA does to protect the rights and freedom of home educators. I just don’t like the Generation Joshua thing and the assumption that all homeschoolers are conservative or Christian.

    As a tree-hugging bleeding-heart liberal atheist homeschooler descended from apes I have an incredibly tough time. We aren’t able to participate in homeschool sports or even the local homeschool science fair because we are not Christian and these activities are “owned” by Christian homeschool support groups. I can’t drive my car to the homeschool convention because I have a Darwin fish on it. Secular curriculum is difficult to find. Etc.

    I just feel that by joining HSLDA that I would be allowing my family to be counted among the conservative right and I don’t want that. I would love for HSLDA to truly stand for all homeschoolers and leave religion out of it. Of course, I’d also love for all the local homeschool activities to start leaving the religion out of it too.

    Comment by
    Tammy Takahashi
    February 9th, 2006
    at 4:55 pm


    Here are a couple large inclusive Yahoo groups for Missouri. Looks like you have a large Christian/Catholic HSing population, but not everybody there is. Good luck finding a group and events that work for your family!


    There are also several inclusive/secular groups for local areas listed, as well as some smaller groups that don’t have as much traffic.

    I went to Yahoo Groups and did a search for Missouri Homeschool.

    I hope it’s OK Daryl that I posted this here, but I didn’t know how to contact Andrea directly.

    Tammy, in L.A., where no matter who you are, there’s a group for ya! 😛

    Comment by
    Scott W. Somerville
    February 10th, 2006
    at 10:18 am

    Andrea, I totally understand your position. I routinely ask myself, “If homeschooling was a predominantly leftwing phenomenon, how would I feel about going to the ACLU to ask for help?” I wouldn’t feel GOOD about it, but I’d go to them if I had to. I’m trying to make sure that HSLDA does a better job of defending liberty than the ACLU does, and part of that means being aware of our own biases.