Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I spoke with Senator Inhofe's Office

I just hung up from a very nice discussion with a woman in Senator Inhofe's office. I explained to her that I was calling regarding yesterday's comments from Mr. Somerville on my blog. I told her how I picked out Senator Inhofe for the calling campaign*. This person was very nice and interested in what I had to say. I read her the comments and she asked me who Mr. Somerville was. I explained who he was. She assured me that Senator Inhofe's policy on calls was to log in the issue and tally the for and against calls. She said that two people had that responsibility in the office and that she was one of them. I asked her if it would be fair to categorize that the office was receiving a fair number of calls on both sides of the issue and she said yes. So there you have it folks. Our calls do count and they are being received. I had explained about how I was working on the issue with the blog and she asked for the url. I shared this url and and the one for HR 3753/ S 1691-Homeschool NonDiscrimination Act 2005 with her. I explained to her the diversity of the opinions that I linked to from this blog and I thought it reflected how HSLDA does not speak for all homeschoolers. She assured me that she would speak with the Senator about our conversation. I left the conversation feeling good about our work on this bill. Let's keep those calls and emails going.

*Some letters Sentator Inhofe had written to constituents responding to their opposition to the bill had left those constituents feeling like their views weren't being heard. Another way to put it would be that they felt like the Senator was taking the opinion of The National Center for Home Education over the opinions of his constituency. This came out in the discussion on homeschool blogs, email lists and yahoo groups late last week. So I suggested over at the HR 3753/ S 1691-Homeschool NonDiscrimination Act 2005 that we call Senator Inhofe's office and someone out in blog land picked Monday.


At 3:59 PM, Blogger Anselm's Apprentice said...

Well, when I spoke to Senator Inhofe's staff, I asked them whether they would like for us to send an email to the more than 700 Oklahoma HSLDA members, asking them to contact their Senator and urge their support for HoNDA. (So far, we have not asked our members in any given state to target any federal legislator about HoNDA, because legislators don't particularly LIKE to be targeted in this way.)

I wholeheartedly respect your efforts to contact federal legislators to make your views known, but it would be wise to note that HSLDA has not even begun to respond in kind.

May I suggest an alternative strategy? It's a whole lot easier to persuade HSLDA to change objectionable language than it is to get a cosponsor of HoNDA to drop his or her support for this bill. I have posted a defense of HoNDA on Chris O'Donnell's blog (www.odonnellweb.com) and am more than willing to entertain any reasonable suggestions on how to make this bill better.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Scott, I want to be sure I have this straight.
You asked Senator Inhofe's staff if you should send your Oklahoma HSLDA members an E-lert to contact him with a 'support S 1691' call-in? But you say that "legislators don't particularly LIKE to be targeted in this way".

That's a head scratcher, but it sounds like some people including Kara, that oppose S 1691 had a nice chat with his staff.
Do all "more than 700" OK members like your bill? Sometimes people have their own ideas and surely aren't your robots. And how many other Oklahoma homeschoolers are there that have nothing to do with HSLDA? The vast majority, maybe?

And you followed up with a "but it would be wise to note that HSLDA has not even begun to respond in kind. "

That's not a threat, is it? :-)

You state that "It's a whole lot easier to persuade HSLDA to change objectionable language"

Really? Didn't make a bit of difference from 2003 to 2005. As a matter of fact, you added a brand new section that looks to be to HSLDA's financial gain.

You might be heading home to your family now. Enjoy! Sorry, but I think maybe you didn't have as good a week as it appears the folks did who oppose your bill.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Ron said...

Glad you had the longer conversation.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Mary said...

I suggest HSLDA send that email alert to its Oklahoma members encouraging them to contact their legislators. Anything that encourages individual citizens to contact their legislators is a good thing.

Yes, HSLDA has begun to respond. That is – apparently – your job, Scott. We never hear from them at any other time.

Your suggestion to lobby HSLDA to change the objectional language is – on the surface – laughable. But it also points out the deeper concern of an advocacy group writing legislation, particularly when it serves their own purposes. Passage of HR3753/S1691 would make law designating HSLDA as a government certification arthority for homeschool parents.

It’s laughable because The Home School Non Discrimination Act of 2003 contained, word-for-word, the exact same language. And NO ONE can say homeschoolers did not lobby HSLDA extensively to change the language. Does this ring any bells:

September 24, 2003
Eleven (11) pages of discussion regarding HR 2732 has led me to a few conclusions:

The first is that HR 2732 was a ‘done deal’ long before it ever made it to NHEN’s discussion forums. HSLDA made no effort to solicit opinions from homeschoolers before going ahead with drafting and submitting this legislation to the US House and Senate.

Their choice of Representative Musgrave, a member of the Education & the Workforce Committee, to introduce HR 2732 is indicative of the extremely conservative, theopolitical agenda this proposal is part of. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave has also introduced legislation to ban gay marriage with an Amendment to the US Constitution. She has launched a campaign to gather one million names on a Petition of Support for her Federal Marriage Amendment.

Michael Farris returned the favor by testifying before a Senate Committee on September 4 in support of Representative Musgrave’s proposed Constitutional Amendment. He said, "Anyone who believes that DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] will be held constitutional [if challenged in federal courts] has a very stiff job ahead of them defending that position,"

Since HR 2732 was introduced in the House on July 15th, it has been discussed on an almost daily basis. In eleven pages of discussion – 158 messages as of September 24, 2003 - over more than 2 months, HSLDA’s representative has repeatedly attempted to distract participants from the topic at hand and provide only lip service, apparently to placate the critics of HR 2732. HSLDA has given no indication that it will either change or withdraw the legislation in spite of many homeschooler’s deep concerns about the federalization of homeschooling statues or the consequences this proposed legislation will have to the individual homeschoolers in America. If it hasn’t happened by now, I do not believe HSLDA has any intention of listening to homeschoolers, only continuing to placate them with meaningless discussion while HR 2732 continues to work its way through Congress. It is about HSLDA’s agenda, not homeschooling rights or freedoms of individuals.

As the lobbying organization writing and sponsoring HR 2732, HSLDA has taken the fundamental right of homeschoolers to represent ourselves and replaced it with an agenda that is antithetical to American values. Our representative system of government entitles each person to vote their conscience and represent him or herself. It is unique that each of us can contact the representatives we elect and have a say in how our government operates. When any group usurps that right, it weakens our government allowing lobbyists and special interests to control how our government functions and how it affects each of us.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Anselm's Apprentice said...

Mary, you and I have had way more than 12 pages of conversations over the years. It's good to bump into you again!

I think it is easier to get HSLDA to change objectionable language than it is to get HoNDA cosponsor to drop his or her support, because, to the best of my knowledge, the combined efforts of HSLDA's critics over the last years have not resulted in ANY sponsors pulling their support. If any of you know a cosponsor who pulled their support, please let me know!

Getting HSLDA to change our language, by contrast, isn't all that hard. I talked to some homeschool leaders last week who urged me to press for a change to one section, and we're actively trying to come up with alternative language that would be workable. It is not in HSLDA's interest to push for language that HSLDA supporters oppose.

So, instead of lobbying Senator Inhofe, wouldn't it make more sense to contact the leaders of some HSLDA-friendly organizations? They're easy to find... we list them on the HSLDA website. Just click on the map at www.hslda.org and look up the organizations that are listed for any given state.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Susan said...

So, instead of lobbying Senator Inhofe, wouldn't it make more sense to contact the leaders of some HSLDA-friendly organizations?
I think Scott is a little forgetful of the shenanigans HSLDA tried and failed at in Illinois. Illinois homeschoolers (including HSLDA friendly?!? organizations on the map) told HSLDA very clearly that lawyer friendly legislation wasn't wanted.

Here's some more information:

I can't imagine that Oklahoma homeschoolers are too thrilled about this federal bill either. As Mary suggested, you should email the Oklahoma members with lots of accurate information. Did you email them before the bill was presented? Oklahoma homeschoolers have great freedoms to homeschool, as I understand it. Could be they're like Illinois homeschoolers (with boots).


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