Parents who have removed their children from the Moloch schools could be facing the beast once again if this bill backed by Ted Cruz passes. Introduced by Mike Lee (R-UT) and co-sponsored by Cruz, S.306 would define a “home school” as a “private school” in order to qualify homeschool families to use 529 plans—investment accounts that remain tax-free as long as the funds are used for qualified educational purposes.
At least two articles have taken hard swipes at this measure, and I share some of their concerns, though I think they have misread part of the bill also. They claim that the bill would allow homeschool families to receive “Title 1” funding which is federal grants and aid for education for the poor. I don’t think it does that, but what it does do is concerning enough to me.
What’s so sinister about a tax-free education account? Simple: it’s a federal program that comes with federal government strings attached. Granted, the strings may not seem that onerous right now, but the shadows of tyranny are already looming. Currently, in order to use the funds tax-free, you must send your child to a school that is accredited and also able to receive federal student aid. If you use the funds outside of such parameters, you not only have to pay the taxes but penalties on top of them.
More importantly, what could these accreditation and federal-aid regulations portend for homeschoolers? Maybe very little at first, and maybe nothing, some supporters would even say. But remember that such regulations can be tweaked and redefined by activist administrations, no matter what Congress allegedly did or did not intend. Take the money, and you just signed a contract that could allow the federal government to impose mandates on curriculum and more. Common Core would be just the beginning. Under an executive-order-happy president like Obama (and they all are), you could easily have common core, evolution, and the gay agenda shoved down your throats, or else face steep fines.
HSLDA supports this legislation, but quite frankly I think they trust the federal government too much. A couple HSLDA lawyers who are also open endorsers of Ted Cruz have come out and defended his intentions with this bill, and defended the bill against some of the less balanced concerns of critics. Well, they would say that. But I do not think they have really considered fully the potential evils of homeschoolers caught in the web of a federal program administered by the federal Department of Education.
In short, I don’t like this idea, and I think it is irresponsible to allow homeschoolers to be tempted with certain tax savings that could indeed be a trap. Homeschoolers homeschool because they don’t want the government involved in their family’s education. Tying them back into a government agency is exactly the thing they don’t need, and shouldn’t want. Dangling the carrot of federal benefits is just the sort of thing that has already largely destroyed our decentralized system of government to begin with. The homeschool movement is a great hope to get back our original American birthright. Let’s not trade that birthright now for a bowl of pottage.