It happens. Some idiot parents have their children yanked out of the home because of abuse or neglect. The typical reported scenario is the kids were often malnourished, were rarely seen by neighbors and sometimes had untreated injuries.
And naturally, they never went to school. Instead, they were “homeschooled.”
At least that’s the conclusion formulated and trumpeted by reporters across the country whenever one of these horrible cases comes to light. Close upon the story’s heels comes a fresh outcry of “Homeschoolers need more regulation!”
Never mind the vastly more common examples of abused children in public schools. Whenever an abused child is described as homeschooled, the extrapolation starts. All homeschoolers are like that. Therefore they need more regulation.
The stated or implied reason for additional regulation is that homeschoolers are a secretive lot who have something to hide. They must be doing something nefarious or they wouldn’t be so adamant about keeping the government out of their private lives. See these poor pathetic abused kids? There’s proof.
Government officials are embarrassed to acknowledge that, despite the unending billions of dollars poured into the public schools over the past 50 years, a bunch of uncredentialed yokels are showing them up. Their hostility is understandable, really. Homeschoolers are a threat. With often extremely limited funds, they persist in putting out sharp, polite, balanced, astoundingly well-educated young adults. Gosh, I’d be threatened, too.
So, with the twisted logic so endemic in government circles, they conclude: “The homeschooling system is working well, and it is working outside our control. Therefore we must fix it.”
It is true that there are kids who fall through the homeschooling cracks. There are some “parents” (I use the term loosely) who allegedly homeschool their kids but actually do nothing. Some people even use the homeschooling excuse to keep outsiders from seeing the bruises. It happens. There are all kinds of people in this world, after all.
But what is absurd is that, when this rare situation occurs, suddenly all homeschoolers are suspect. This is like saying that just because a female teacher sexually exploits a teenage boy, then all female schoolteachers are lecherous abusers and must be treated as such.
Talk about guilty until proven innocent.
There are indeed hundreds of thousands of kids who are falling through the cracks and receiving inadequate education – but they are attending public schools. How else can you account for exorbitant dropout rates? Embarrassing test results? Graduates who can’t read their own diplomas? Schools have passed beyond serious concern into the realm of laughing stock.
So before you attempt to clean my house, get your own house in order first. Or, to expand the analogy, don’t you dare pass laws that require me to keep my house in a certain and precise order when you’re living in a sty.
Anyone who has read the news in the last couple months is aware that a California judge, with the stroke of a pen, outlawed homeschooling in that state. Needless to say, this caused cries of protest from outraged parents across the country.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread, in my opinion) teamed up with various other state and national organizations and helped convince the Court of Appeals to reverse this decision. This caused an enormous sigh of relief among all homeschoolers.
The California victory is just that – a hard-earned, intensely fought, righteous victory. But I can’t help but see it as a temporary stay of execution. Yes, homeschooling is once again legal, but just watch – it will become even more complicated. My suspicion is the government wants all homeschoolers regulated to the point where parents may as well give up and stick their kids back in the cesspool … er, public schools, and the government won’t stop trying just because they got kicked in the pants this time.
Thanks to the constant vigilance of HSLDA and other supportive organizations, homeschooling is now legal in all 50 states. States can no longer impose such unconstitutional absurdities as home inspections (can you imagine?). However, to a greater or lesser extent, states still try to discourage homeschoolers by imposing restrictive and unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork.
What on earth do people think will happen if homeschooling is more strongly regulated? What benefits will occur if parents are forced to comply with ridiculous rules and regulations and government mandates? Portfolios. Testing requirements. Attendance records. Curriculum approval. Mandated subjects. Instruction plans. Quarterly reports. Annual assessments. Immunization requirements. Receipt of health and medical records. Parental qualifications.
Come on, already. These are all unnecessary burdens on homeschooling parents. The more requirements parents are forced to comply with, the more they get frustrated and intimidated. And – here’s a concept – the more it distracts them from their primary role, namely educating their children.
Of course, maybe that’s the point.
According to Ian Slatter, Director of Media Relations for HSLDA, on average homeschooled children score just as well on standardized tests in states with low regulation as they do in states with high regulation. In other words, government-mandated regulation is a waste of taxpayers’ money and parents’ time – and has no effect on the test results of homeschooled students.
The academic achievement of homeschoolers is indisputable. According to the National Home Education Research Institute:
- The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.
- Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
- Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.
- Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.
- Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
- Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.
Enough is enough. The data are in and the case is closed. Homeschoolers don’t need more government regulation.
We need to be left alone.