- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2008

It recently occurred to me that home-schoolers have had a wonderful legal group working tirelessly for them, a group definitely worth the modest membership fee.

Since 1983, the Home School Legal Defense Association has fought to protect the rights of home-schoolers all over the United States and even the world. Today, it employs nine attorneys (among 60 staff members, of which 30 are home-school grads). All the attorneys are home-schooling parents; some 74 children are home-schooled by HSLDA staff members.

HSLDA members pay about $100 per family yearly. HSLDA supports parents in navigating legal requirements to home-school and represents the family should any legal matter arise threatening their home-schooling rights. The attorney fees, expert witness costs, travel expenses, indeed, any costs the court allows the HSLDA to pay — are all covered.

On the larger level, HSLDA is an advocate for home-schooling, deflecting intrusive regulation, and fighting threats to the rights of home-schoolers. It has a strong informational role, keeping parents and families aware of pending legislative or judicial actions, while keeping public agencies and media informed about the true facts of home-schooling in the United States and around the world.

Although strongly motivated by their personal Christian faiths, the staff of HSLDA represent those of all faiths who wish to educate their children according to their conscience and religious beliefs. Believing that the constitutional guarantees of freedoms of faith, assembly, press and speech are the essential pillars of America’s unique development as a nation, the HSLDA has worked hard to protect these freedoms for every family who chooses to educate within the family setting.

HSLDA does not stop with playing a watchdog role, nor with advocacy, nor with legal representation. Its Web site offers a host of helpful materials to empower parents in record-keeping, content planning, academic goals and other vital areas.

Key HSLDA staffers, such as Michael Farris, Chris Klicka and Michael Smith, have been contributing to The Washington Times’ Home-schooling Today column since its beginning. But my respect for them goes far beyond their work as co-columnists. Imagine what courage it took for legal professionals in the materialistic 1980s to spurn the easy money of many law practices and choose instead to work for a barely known, invisible cause for a small scattering of families whose only common denominator was the conscientious choice to educate at home.

They chose the path of selfless public service to establish in all 50 states legal protections and support for home-schooling parents and children. Through their efforts, millions of home-schoolers were able to attain academic standards that have become legendary; to pursue excellence in sports, culture and social service; and to break the myth of generational rebellion.

I don’t imagine that HSLDA staff members ever dreamed how huge an impact their work would have on society. I believe we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

If you are unfamiliar with the HSLDA, do check its Web site, www.hslda.org. You’ll be amazed at how much a small number of conscientious men and women have done to serve families and the nation.

Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a freelance writer who lives in Maryland.

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