A Democratic state senator in Ohio has proposed a law that would require every homeschooling parent to be investigated and approved by social services agencies before they would be allowed to teach their own children.
The Home School Legal Defense Association calls the bill sponsored by Sen. Capri Cafaro the “worst-ever homeschool law proposed.”
“SB 248 is breathtakingly onerous in its scope,” says a report by Michael Donnelly, an attorney with the world’s premiere homeschool advocacy organization. “It requires all parents who homeschool to undergo a social services investigation, which would ultimately determine if homeschooling would be permitted.”
Under the proposed law, social workers would interview parents and children separately, conduct background checks and determine whether or not homeschooling is recommended.
If homeschooling is not recommended, Donnelly explained, parents would have to submit to an “intervention” before further consideration of their request to homeschool.
The proposal was offered as a response to the child-abuse death of Teddy Foltz-Tedesco, 14, who reportedly had been abused for years by his mother’s boyfriend, Zaryl Bush.
HSLDA argued the tragic case was not about homeschooling, noting the abuse began while the boy was in public school.
“HSLDA condemns child abuse and is saddened by Teddy’s death,” the organization said in a statement. “HSLDA supports the prosecution of child abusers like Bush and the improvement of systems that prevent child abuse. However, this proposed law does not actually address the problems that led to Teddy’s death and instead unfairly targets homeschooling.”
HSLDA said the 14-year-old had been abused for years, and after teachers reported the abuse to authorities, the mother withdrew the boy from public school to homeschool him.
Neighbors, friends, family, police, teachers and others all knew Teddy was being abused, HSLDA said.
“Finally, Bush beat Teddy so severely that he later died of his injuries. Bush and Teddy’s mother now are in prison,” the group said.
“Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was killed because those responsible for protecting him did not step in as the law or common sense would have dictated. Why?” HSLDA said in a statement. “Although news reports indicate that abuse had been reported for years prior to Teddy’s death, it does not appear that any serious intervention was made by government authorities charged with investigating such allegations.
“Why was not enough done to protect Teddy from known abuse?”
Subjecting hardworking parents who want to invest their time and money in their own children’s education is not the way to address such problems, HSLDA argued.
“Even if, as SB 248 would require, his mother had sought social service’s approval to homeschool and was denied, he still would have been at home subject to abuse after school. Regardless of where he went to school, Teddy was left by authorities in a home where they knew abuse was occurring. Clearly, SB 248 would not have saved Teddy,” the organization said.
Donnelly suggested that lawmakers, through SB 248, are turning fundamental American values “upside down.”
“Parents have been deemed by the United States Supreme Court in Parham v. JR to act in their children’s best interests. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the court ruled that parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children,” he said.
Ohio’s plan would replace parents with “unqualified social workers to make educational decisions for children.”
“Rather than target tens of thousands of decent Ohioans who homeschool, policymakers like Cafaro should try to discover what prevented police and social workers who knew what was going on from taking action and faithfully enforcing Ohio’s already adequate child protection laws.”
HSLDA said it has asked its members in Ohio to urge the bill’s sponsors to withdraw the bill.
“This misguided attack on homeschooling in Ohio may only be a precursor to more general attempts by some to impose similar restrictions on parents,” the group said.
WND has reported over the years on a wide range of issues on homeschooling, from Germany’s jail sentences for homeschooling parents to Sweden’s decision to take a homeschooled boy away from his parents.
In the U.S., the disputes have included threats from social workers to seize children if their parents don’t agree to a home search, and a state court’s decision, later overturned, that parents have no right to homeschool their children.
WND also reported when a German school district seized a student and put her under mental health care for being homeschooled.
Earlier this month, as WND reported, a Florida judge ordered several children in a homeschooling family into public school classes based on the “gut reaction” of a court appointee in a custody case in which homeschooling not an issue. The ruling has been appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Florida.
HSLDA said the judge lectured the mother: “When are they going to socialize? Is homeschool going to continue through college and/or professional schooling? At which point are these children going to interact with other children, and isn’t that in their best interest?”
Without notice that education was an issue, the judge ordered the children to attend public school.
HSLDA has submitted a brief in the case providing evidence that homeschoolers have better success than their peers in higher education. The organization told the court in the case that a survey showed 50.2 percent of homeschooled students go on to some form of college, compared to 34 percent of their peers. In addition, 8.7 percent received associates degrees, compared to 4.1 percent of their peers, 11.8 percent received bachelor’s degrees, compared to 7.6 percent of their peers; and 0.8 percent received master’s degrees, compared to 0.3 percent of their peers.
Further, the study found that 71 percent of subjects were participating in an ongoing community service activity such as coaching a sports team, volunteering at school or working with a church or neighborhood association, while 37 percent of similarly aged U.S. adults and 39 percent of all U.S. adults did so.
The survey found that while 88 percent of home-educated subjects were a member of an organization, only 50 percent of similarly aged U.S. adults and 59 percent of all U.S. adults were.
“Homeschoolers scored higher on the ACT than the national average for 10 years – from 1996 until 2006. In 2006, the ACT stopped reporting the results of homeschooled students separately,” the brief added.