Miller Amendment, House Resolution 6 of 1994

House Resolution 6 of 1994 was a reappropriations bill for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a statutory scheme which was originally passed in 1965. Sponsored by Congressman George Miller, the "Miller Amendment," Section 2124(e), was approved by the Education and Labor Committee and slated for the floor of the House of Representatives.

The Miller Amendment consisted of the following language:

ASSURANCE.—Each State applying for funds under this title shall provide the Secretary with the assurance that after July 1, 1998, it will require each local educational agency within the State to certify that each full time teacher in schools under the jurisdiction of the agency is certified to teach in the subject area to which he or she is assigned.

Many alternative educators, including most home educators who were affiliated with the Home School Legal Defense Association, felt that the Miller Amendment was a serious threat to alternative education. The coalition noted that House Resolution 6 also had a new word--“nonprofit”--in the definition of what constituted a "school." Responding to encouragement from radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, Congressman Dick Armey, Marlin Maddoux, Dr. James Dobson, CNN commentator Pat Buchanan, Beverly LaHaye, and the HSLDA, over a million callers contacted Congress to object to the Miller Amendment.

Representative Armey introduced the "Home School/Private School Freedom Amendment" as a substitute for the Miller Amendment:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school under State law. This section shall not be construed to bar private, religious, or home schools from participation in programs or services under the Act.

After intense lobbying and various parliamentary maneuvers, Armey's Amendment was ultimately substituted in place of the Miller Amendment.

The Miller Amendment incident grabbed the attention of legislators and the press. The episode is esconced in the collective memory of the alternative-education community. Opinions vary about the significance and impact of the Miller Amendment episode. Two typical examples of the opposing viewpoints can be found here and here.

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