O'DonnellWeb - Scott Defisks HoNDA Sect. 10: Military Recruiting

Interesting: As I suspected, homeschoolers who enlist are not that many: only 0.5% of all 1999 recruits. True, you can assume those 0.5% are going to be officers and influence other soldiers someday, but that hardly constitutes a "Christian Army" -- law

In 1999, there were perhaps 850,000 homeschooled students..the number of homeschooled twelfth-graders was between 50,000 and 60,000...no more than 3,850 homeschoolers enlisted across the four Services combined.. During this period, there were a total of roughly 730,000 enlistees, so homeschoolers made up about .5 percent of all enlistees.

Scott Defisks HoNDA Sect. 10: Military Recruiting


(a) Home-Schooled Students- Chapter 31 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 503 the following new section:

`Sec. 503a. Recruitment and enlistment of home-schooled students
`(a) Policy on Recruitment and Enlistment- The Secretary concerned shall prescribe a policy for the recruitment and enlistment of home-schooled students. The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that the polices prescribed under this section apply, to the extent practicable, uniformly across the armed forces

Chris asks, “Why do we need special recruitment policies just for homeschoolers? is this all part of Farris' Christian Army fantasy? If homeschoolers are just like everybody else, shouldn't the normal recruitment policies of the Armed Forces be sufficient?”

Under current law, homeschool graduates fall into “Tier II,” which mostly consists of people who couldn’t complete high school and got a GED instead. The Pentagon has learned that people who can’t handle high school aren’t all that likely to do well in the military. Not only are there far fewer slots for Tier II recruits, they also have significantly less options available to them. To the best of my knowledge, the only sure way a homeschooler can avoid Tier II status is to get 15 hours of college credits.

HSLDA negotiated with the Pentagon to get a pilot project enacted in 2000 to measure the actual attrition rates of homeschool graduates. To the best of my knowledge, the initial class in the project included 65 homeschoolers in the Marines, 300 in the Air Force, 400 in the Army, and 1,300 in the Navy. Unfortunately, approximately 300 of these “homeschool” recruits from the Chicago area had all the characteristics of real dropouts who claimed to be homeschooled. (I call these “homefoolers” to distinguish them from “homeschoolers.”) The Pentagon then followed this initial class all the way through the five year pilot project, and (again, to the best of my knowledge) all the reported data on attrition rates comes solely from this group of recruits.

As a number of HSLDA’s critics have been quick to point out, the attrition rates from this group were not better than those of public high school graduates. If almost 15% of the initial group really were dropouts, however, this should hardly come as a surprise.

Homeschoolers are remarkably diverse, and our diversity makes it hard for the Pentagon to know how to treat us. Some parents spend years raising children to question authority and march to the beat of a different drummer. Such homeschoolers are unlikely to be all that interested in a military career. Other parents spend years raising children to pray for their country and obey their parents. These homeschoolers tend to be quite eager to enlist.

We are open to any constructive alternatives that others could suggest for enabling homeschoolers to serve alongside of traditional high school graduates.


Personally, I don't see the college credit requirement as that big of a stumbling block. 15 hours is 4 or 5 classes. The couple of hundred HEK's that are gunning for enlisted status each year can plan a year ahead and take a few CC classes their "senior" year to get the 15 hours. I just don't see that small a number as being worth their own DoD bureaucracy. Really, we should be encouraging military minded HEK's to go to school and become officers anyway.

However, if we have to be equal all the time - why not just rely on the Armed Forces Entrance test. Any HEK that can score at the 50th percentile on that test should qualify for Tier I. That seems so obvious I'm assuming HSLDA already thought of that and the military didn't go for it.
Posted by: COD at September 27, 2005 05:11 PM

That was exactly what Chris Klicka has been suggesting as a reasonable accomodation. It's a lot better than telling willing and capable recruits they have to go off to college. We'll see whether the military can get around to accepting that as one among a number of other options.
Posted by: Scott W. Somerville at September 28, 2005 10:12 AM

You know what? If the US government doesn't want capable and willing homeschool recruits then that is the government's problem. These kids might actually be better off serving our country in our own communities than going off to fight and die in some foreign country - but my feeling about war in general aside..

There is no reason to federally legislate how homeschoolers are handled by the military.. If you want uniform treatment of all persons then the language should not be homeschool specific, nor should it specify how recruits have been educated.

Why not get rid of the Tier status all together?...
Posted by: Judy Aron at September 28, 2005 02:09 PM

The tier status is in place because of retention reasons which apparently have been studied since 1959, and the findings are that institutionally schooled grads have the best track record for completing a first term of service. The Tier system is already a policy that is uniform.

Within the Tier system the services tailor who they accept based on their needs. The Marines & Air Force don't need as many people, so their standards are pickier. The Army needs more, so they accept a broader range. Navy seems to be mid-range.

Also, as far as "telling willing and able recruits" to go to college, why is that different than telling a willing and able recruit to lose 45 pounds, or any other requirement that is currently in place (probably BMI rather than pounds). The instituional experience provides a fitter recruit, just as slimming down from being over-weight provides a fitter recruit.

And again, the Tiers aren't only about scores on tests. As much as it pains me to say, the act of having been in an institutional school is the best predictor to date for completion of a first term of service. For monetary reasons the institutionally-schooled kids get the Tier I status.

Posted by: Valerie at September 29, 2005 12:25 AM

.. it's the conservative religious right that teaches their children to "pray for their country and obey their parents." Those people are a small percentage of the whole. So at the end of the day ya it is tier 2 status that fits us, to many home-educated kids can think for themselves and don't like the brain-washing that the military requires and are likely going to find a way out. Personally I think you can try to lobby for this, but I really don't think it's going to go real far. There are far to many other pressing issues for the government to consider right now.
Posted by: Bec Thomas at September 29, 2005 03:35 PM

Well, and I'd like to point out that some of us "question authority" types are supportive of a strong military -- though I know that's counter-intuitive. My sons have been taught the value of the FREEDOM to question authority, and one of my kids is getting a lot of attention from military recruiters. I would say that since our homeschooling does not follow any of the protocol outlined in this legislation, the legislation would create a significant disadvantage for our son.

While right now it looks more likely that he's favoring civilian public service (law enforcement) among his diverse career choices, I would hate to see this legislation passed, which would make him at a disadvantage should he choose the honor to serve his country in the military.

whose kids unschool, pray and obey


The pilot program report was read, wasn't it?

Final Analysis of Evaluation of Homeschool and ChalleNGe Program Recruits

PDF page 55:
In 1999, there were perhaps 850,000 homeschooled students. Again assuming that 28 percent were in high school, the number of homeschooled twelfth-graders was between 50,000 and 60,000. Taking 55,000 as a median estimate, we know that between FY99 and FY02 inclusive, no more than 3,850 homeschoolers enlisted across the four Services combined (this assumes that all Navy homeschoolers in FY99 were "true" homeschoolers). During this period, there were a total of roughly 730,000 enlistees, so homeschoolers made up about .5 percent of all enlistees. This suggests that homeschooled students enlisted
at a rate of 0.1 percent, or 1.1 of every 1,000 homeschooled students (or 2.2 of every 1,000 male homeschooled students). This compares with an overall enlistment rate of close to 3 to 5 percent of all high school seniors, or 6 to 10 percent of all male high school seniors. 32 Thus, homeschooled students have a much lower propensity to enlist than do students who graduate from public high schools or the ChalleNGe program. In contrast, 2,941 of the 67,500 enlistees surveyed were graduates of private schools. The total number of private school graduates in 1999 was about 275,000 [16, table 63]. Assuming that half were males, this suggests that male private school graduates enlist at a rate of about 2 in 100. Thus, private school students also seem to enlist at higher rates than homeschooled graduates, although at a lower rate than
public school graduates. There are more than four times as many private school graduates as homeschooled graduates in the U.S. today.

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