Landing jobs with the federal government is becoming a lot easier for homeschoolers, as U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is taking measures to make sure the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) is keeping a door open that has typically been shut to those who have not graduated from a high school with a state-approved curriculum.
When one homeschool graduate applied for an internship in the Naval Sea Systems Command that he discovered on an OPM online job listing at USA Jobs, he was soon discouraged to come face to face with a discriminatory policy that precluded him from being a candidate … because of his homeschool diploma.
Facing the impossible
The homeschooler found that the job described in OPM’s announcement required all applicants to meet a requirement that he simply could not meet.
“[All applicants must have graduated from a] high school whose curriculum has been approved by a State or local governing body, or a home-school curriculum that has been approved by such a body or a State …” the job listing read.
Even though homeschool graduates are now heading into nearly every career field and higher education program — as homeschooling continues to increase in popularity — they still face many obstacles that remain in place due to lingering bureaucratic policies that are geared to accept applicants coming from a traditional education background.
Attorneys with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) realized that this policy forbids virtually every one of the United States’ 2 million-plus homeschoolers from applying for such federal jobs.
“The third-party contractor hired by OPM to vet candidates for this position asked the homeschool graduate to prove that he fulfilled this requirement,” HSLDA Director of Federal Relations William A. Estrada, Esq. reported. “Since there is not a single state in the nation where homeschoolers must use government-approved curriculum (and homeschoolers would fight such a requirement!), the graduate called HSLDA.”
As soon as HSLDA Staff Attorney TJ Schmidt saw how the job listing was out of bounds in its requirement for the internment position, he wrote a letter to the third-party contractor explaining that homeschoolers are only required to follow their own state’s homeschool law. Schmidt also pointed out that the governing body approval requirement was not only invalid, but impossible for homeschoolers to fulfill.
Estrada said that once everything was cleared up, the homeschooler had no problem getting in.
“Faced with a highly qualified homeschool graduate, the third-party contractor accepted HSLDA’s letter as proof that the young man had met the educational qualifications,” Estrada announced. “We’re pleased to report that the homeschool graduate was admitted into the Naval Sea Systems Command as their newest intern.”
Cleaning up loose ends
Even though everything regarding the situation at hand was squared away, HSLDA still found it had work to do if the path was going to remain clear for future homeschooling candidates to be eligible for similar roles with the federal government.
“But we were still concerned about this language in OPM’s job announcement,” Estrada stressed. “What if this was just the start of OPM putting burdens on homeschool graduates?”
Seeing the power of having an alliance within the system, HSLDA sought the help of an influential congressman from North Carolina whose position and background made him an ideal instrument to make an equal playing field for homeschoolers.
“HSLDA’s Federal Relations team immediately reached out to U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), a homeschool dad himself,” Estrada continued. “Rep. Meadows sits on the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and chairs the Subcommittee on Government Operations, which has oversight over OPM.”
Knowing just who to talk to, Meadows quickly worked to solve the issue.
“[Meadows] sent a letter to OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert and also personally called her,” Estrada recounted. “In an interesting twist, HSLDA’s Federal Relations team of homeschool graduates worked with one of Meadows’ staffers who is a homeschool graduate himself, a graduate of Patrick Henry College and a student at Georgetown Law.”
After Meadows’ intervention, it appears that homeschoolers today and in the years to come will enjoy a level path to federal jobs.
“Although we have not yet received an official response from OPM, we believe that the situation has been fully resolved, and that OPM will not use this language again,” Estrada concluded. “Rep. Meadows and HSLDA are closely monitoring future job announcements from OPM.”