Does HSLDA Promote or Undermine Intellectual Freedom?

The 1993 Home-Ed-Politics Debate

The following is a series of posts which were sent by homeschoolers to Home-Ed-Politics from October through November 1993. There was a heated debate about HSLDA and its political actions. HSLDA Attorney Scott Somerville was an active participant in this debate. The posts have been divided into ten chronological sections as follows:

**1. Initial article describing a "protection racket," which many thought to referred to HSLDA, and ensuing debate.
**2. "Four Pillars" article describing problems with HSLDA across the country.
**3. The "Four Pillars" debate which followed.
Legislative analysis and problems in New Hampshire with HSLDA involvement while:
**4. -----enacting Home Education law in 1990 legislative session.
**5. -----working for the Parental Rights Amendment in 1991 session.
**6. -----working for an "Equitable" home education law in 1992 session.
**7. -----working for a separate "Private Educators" law in 1993 session.
**8. -----working for a "Non-Institutional Private Educators" (NIPE) law in 1994 session.
**9.Discussion of "minimum standards for care [of children] and criminal punnishment for parents who intentionally violate those standards" as suggested by HSLDA lawyer; and resolutions of truce via "non-opposition" between HSLDA and NH activists.
**10. Updates on HSLDA involvement in NH politics.

From the 1993 Home-Ed-Politics Debate:

On Tue, 2 Nov 1993 Scott Somerville wrote:
I am surprised, however, to discover that you sincerely believe that HSLDA won't accept people who refuse to comply with their state's law. I don't know where you heard this, but it is simply untrue! I spent hundreds of hours last year working on cases in Tennessee and Pennsylvania for families who refused to comply with their laws. I spent dozens of hours working with families in Massachusetts and Iowa who are underground. I represent a number of member families in New Hampshire who are not complying with RSA 193A.

Our membership is open to any family that is sincerely committed to family-based education, regardless of religious belief, tolerance for unconstitutional laws, or educational philosophy.

On that last point of educational philosophy, I lean in the unschooling direction myself. . . . Our home school program today is a hybrid of my left-wing leanings and my wife's Prussian drill sergeant instincts. My children wind up "schooling" in the morning and "unschooling" in the afternoon and evening.
Doris Hohensee replied:
After reading this you would naturally assume that HSLDA accepts families who do not comply with the law, wouldn't you? And you'd probably assume that even unschoolers could seek protection from HSLDA, right? Wrong.

To see why, take a look at HSLDA's application form. If I were to fill it out, HSLDA would have more than enough information to comply with just about any state home education law in the country without me doing anything further. Seems to me state education departments might want to deal directly with HSLDA and cut a deal, and potentially compromise my rights.

In addition, the membership agreement requires that I permit HSLDA to "visit my home" and "cooperate fully in the defense of any legal action (threatened or otherwise)" and "provide any and all information and assistance to the legal counsel who are appointed" to defend me. Once the legal engagement begins, HSLDA determines the outcome and I must "cooperate." If it were easier and quicker for HSLDA to defend me by complying (since they would already have all the information) I couldn't object under the membership contract. I could only fire them. Does this begin to sound familiar? (See PA where the Sickler family did fire their HSLDA attorney.

Unschoolers who don't comply with the law would not be defended by HSLDA either. Their membership requirement to "use an organized curriculum and a clearly recognizable program of education" eliminates them completely.

Scott Somerville continues:
Our membership is open to any family that is sincerely committed to family-based education, regardless of religious belief, tolerance for unconstitutional laws, or educational philosophy.
But remember, HSLDA reserves the right to refuse any membership application it pleases.

The following shows HSLDA's unwavering commitment to protecting parents' rights:

On Fri, 1 Oct 93 Scott Somerville wrote:
Responding to "HSLDA has used its considerable clout time and again to establish laws that only they and a limited segment of the home education community can live under."

As an attorney at HSLDA, I spent hundreds of hours last year challenging Pennsylvania's home school law, even though that was a law that HSLDA helped to draft and get passed. Maybe this is two-faced, but it is something that lawyers are good at. We see no problem, as lawyers, with first getting a law passed which is better for home schoolers than the alternative, and then turning right around and challenging "our" new law as unconstitutional. . .
They may have no problem with this "two-faced" solution, but I do. Afterall they compromised my rights of conscience when the came to NH in 1990, not theirs.

On Sat, Jan 7, 1995 Jim Muncy wrote:
> Why should the HSLDA tell its members to break the law and they will
> take care of it. I wouldn't belong to an organization that would do
> this because I know that they would be misleading me.

Great, Jim. Just send me the $100 next year and we'll call it even. ;)

Doris Hohensee

"At HSLDA, we concede that the state's interest in education is a compelling state goal."
--Michael Farris, Homeschooling and the Law, pg. 43

**The Ravage of Home Education through Exclusion by Religion
A White Paper by Raymond S. Moore, Homeschool Founder
**Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk by Mark and Helen Hegener (AK)
** HSLDA Misrepresents Truth in Home School Court Reports
**Homeschooling and HSLDA: An Opinion by Marcia Mullins (MI)
** Dave Mankins (MA) on the HSLDA
**Need I Join the H.S.L.D.A.?
** More Information On HSLDA

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
- Tacitus

There is a conflict, and the reason for the conflict between the civil powers and parental power is that civil government is out of its bounds and beyond its limits... Homeschool laws which appear to alleviate the problem are deceptive... In the long run they are extremely destructive to the family and the homeschool movement. This is quite evident by the division they have already caused. The only solution is that civil government must be returned to the limits set, either by the courts, or failing that, by the people. -- Karl Reed