Home School Legal Defense Association
Question: What does the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), North Dakota and the Boston tea party all have in common?
How many of you got that correct? Allow me to give you a little history lesson that you will not find in any textbook.
The year was 1987 and our oldest child was ready to start school. Having dear friends in Montana who introduced me to the idea of homeschooling, I was looking forward to trying it for about 3 or 4 years. After all, Raymond Moore reported that until the age of 8, your child will follow whatever peer group he is with. So, we thought, “fine, we will homeschool until he turns 8 and then send him off to school. Well, things took a little bit of a different turn than I had imagined and I ended up homeschooling for over 25 years.
First off, though, we found out that it was illegal to homeschool in North Dakota, which is where we were living at that time. Great—just what I needed to hear. My friends informed me that if I was going to homeschool, I was NOT to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day with my kids (I had 3 boys by this time) and I was NOT to allow them to play outside until after normal school hours or I would be in danger of being turned in by suspicious neighbors. So I complied and started my journey “undercover,” you might say. However, there was quite an active group of homeschoolers in the state, even though it was illegal. And, it was at this time I was introduced to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
HSLDA was started by two young attorneys/homeschool dads who saw a need for affordable legal advocacy in this fast growing homeschool movement. They established Home School Legal Defense Association as a nonprofit ministry to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.
Through the years, HSLDA’s primary goal has remained the same–to bring together a large number of homeschooling families so that each can have a low cost method of obtaining quality legal defense.
Today, HSLDA gives tens of thousands of families the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats on their own.
When many families stick together to fight the battle or homeschooling freedom in our country, HSLDA is able to keep the cost low for all families, including those on the front lines. In fact, a year’s membership is close to or below the rate that a family would have to pay for an hour of an attorney’s time.
After a family joins HSLDA, there are no further charges of any kind for defending them in court, should it come to that. HSLDA pays in full all attorney fees, expert witness costs, travel expenses, and all other court costs permissible by state law for us to pay.
The vast majority of contacts member families face are successfully resolved through HSLDA’s early intervention without any court action. Many times, the team of HSLDA attorneys simply calls or writes letters on behalf of members contacted by officials. For those who wind up in court, HSLDA provides full representation at every stage of legal proceedings.
If one is fortunate enough to homeschool in a state that has good homeschool laws and hopefully not require the services of legal representation, your membership fee helps those less fortunate around the world, and fight the battle to maintain parental rights to raise and educate our children.
In addition, HSLDA has added many other beneficial programs for homeschoolers including
- Generation Joshua
- Frequently updated blog
- Online academy
- Personal consultation for special needs, teaching high school, as well as teaching toddlers to tweens.
- Group rates for homeschool liability insurance
Visit their website to peruse the plethora of resources and information they provide.
But let me return to my history lesson. In 1989, Michael Farris from HSLDA agreed to come to testify at the North Dakota State Legislature in favor of a law that would make it legal to homeschool. We rallied around the Capitol building in Bismarck, North Dakota that cold winter day on February 20, 1989, and Michael Farris passed out tea bags with this message tacked to each: “The consent of the governed for homeschooling, too,”
and we had ourselves a Bismarck tea party. There were 150 homeschoolers from 11 states who joined us to protest–what a feeling of comradery we felt as Michael Farris likened us to the Boston Tea Party.
The state did repeal the teacher certification law but required that one parent take the National Teacher’s Exam and obtain a passing grade in order to homeschool. Interestingly enough, they did not even require their own certified teachers to take the NTE so the state randomly chose a cutoff score from another state to use. They also officially made it known that “we should not feel bad if over half of the parents would fail to make the cutoff score,” as it was that difficult of a test. I am happy to report that with the first set of 100 parents to take the test, 99 of them passed with flying colors. That is one example of what HSLDA did for North Dakota back in 1989. Since that time, North Dakota’s homeschool laws have improved greatly, but still do not compare to our laws here in Montana.
The bottom line is that in every state, HSLDA has helped promote homeschooling as well as protect and preserve homeschooling freedoms. If you have not joined yet, I would encourage you to go online and read about the organization.
Home School Legal Defense Association = Peace of mind. Protection. 24/7.
That, my friends, is a bargain at $130 per year.