There's a social medial firestorm between homeschoolers, HSLDA and Senator Ted Cruz. The storm centers around a bill, S 306, that Senator Cruz co-sponsored last year. It just so happens to be the same year he announced his candidacy for President. With the spotlight comes the scrutiny. Homeschoolers went digging to make sure that the man who says he is our friend, truly has our back.
In my research I came upon the bill, S 306 that Cruz co-sponsored. Red flags were raised when I read that S 306 categorizes a homeschool as a private school. I contacted the Cruz campaign. I was told that Senator Cruz wanted to "help" homeschoolers. They said Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) felt there was discrimination in access to Coverdell Education Savings Accounts that needed to be fixed. I addressed the problem with that argument in my Breitbart article, "Homeschoolers to Ted Cruz We Don't Want Governmet Help!"
What problems was the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) trying to "fix" when they created S 306? HSLDA has been seeking this fix for a few years. Here's how HSLDA described the problem in 2010,
"The Problem with the Coverdell for Homeschool Families
The problem that has faced homeschoolers is that the federal law that created the Coverdell defined eligible expenses as costs associated only with public and private school costs. So the Coverdell cannot be used for homeschool expenses, unless a family is operating their homeschool program as a private school in one of the 14 states where a homeschool is treated as a private school."
So the family MUST be operating as a private school in order to access the Covedell. The "problem" is that only 14 states say that a home school is operating as a private school. The "fix" is to categorize all homeschool families as a private school at the federal level, whether the state considers them one or not. A federal fix for a state problem.
Will Estrada confirmed this to TheResurgent blogger, Brian Sikma that homeschoolers "are private schools" for the purposes of Coverdell.
"According to Will Estrada, director of federal relations for Home School Legal Defense Association, a pro-home education group, 14 states currently define home schooling as a private school, which means home schoolers in those states can use Coverdell accounts. But for the remaining 36 states, there is no guidance for the use of Coverdells by home educators. S.306 simply says that home schools are private schools for the purpose of Coverdell savings accounts."
But if education is a state issue then the state should be the place to determine whether a homeschool family is a private school NOT the feds.
HSLDA, with Cruz support, has decided to by-pass the 36 legislatures and go directly to federal policy to fix the issue. And that's where Cruz is getting into the cross hairs.
Cruz is in a conundrum of his own making. He is a Constitutionalist that believes there is NO role for the fed in education, yet he supported a federal fix for something that should be solved at the state level.
The Constitution allows no federal role for education. Allowing them to say that a homeschool is private school for ANY reason, no matter how limited is not their jurisdiction and not Constitutional.
In October, the first wave of this firestorm prompted to Cruz to go on Glenn Beck to answer objections homeschoolers raised. The problem was he denied that a home school had to operate as a private school. He made his argument air tight by saying he was in "no way, shape, or form" classifying a home school as a privates school. But that contradicts Estrada who said that S 306 "simply says that home schools are private schools for the purpose of ESA."
When someone says homeschoolers "ARE" is changing them in some way shape or form. No matter how limited or how noble the purpose, the feds have no role in education.
Senator Cruz can clean this up by answering a simple question that he has made his touchstone, "What does the Constitution say about the feds deeming a home school a privates school? and "What does the Constiitution say about the feds allowing Title 1 federal dollars to go to a private school?
Answer those questions and this kerfuffle goes away. But the longer he lingers the bigger the storm grows.
Karen Braun is a conservative homeschool mom of 6. Five are graduated, two served honorably in the USMC, and two daughters still at home. I write about education, family, homeschooling, common core standards, and anything else that strikes my mind and the keys at the same time.