A Wyoming mother found guilty of educational neglect because her daughter wasn’t registered in school and there were no records the family was homeschooling has been cleared after state officials discovered the daughter wasn’t old enough for school.

The report comes from the Home School Legal Defense Association, which advocates worldwide for homeschooling families.

To protect the family’s privacy, the report changed the woman’s real name, and the HSLDA refers to her as “Janice Johnson.”

The woman first learned of her troubles with the state when she received a letter from the Wyoming Department of Family Services stating it already had investigated her and found her guilty.

“She was charge with educational neglect of her daughter, Katie,” according to HSLDA.

The family recently had moved away from Cheyenne, and when Johnson returned after several weeks to take care of some business, she found several letters at her former residence.

The first one told her there were accusations she was neglecting the education of her daughter “because Katie was not enrolled in school, and the school district had no record of Katie being homeschooled,” the HSLDA report said.

A second letter in the mailbox told her the allegation had been substantiated and her name was being added to the Wyoming Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.

HSDLA staff attorney Darren Jones called the department and mailed a copy of Katie’s birth certificate to document she would not be old enough to attend school until September 2009.

The state responded with its correction, acknowledging the mother had not violated educational policy.

“The department manager told Jones that the social worker had ‘made a mistake’ in thinking that compulsory attendance age was 6 rather than 7, and Janice’s name was removed from the registry,” the HSLDA report said.

“It is troubling that a social worker would place a parent on the central registry as a child abuser without ever talking to the parent, seeing the child, or even verifying what the proper compulsory attendance age is,” Jones said. “However, we were glad that we could assist Janice in getting off the registry so quickly.”

WND reported only days earlier that the HSLDA’s own research reveals parents can teach their own children as effectively as any “certified” teacher. The research indicated that for some subjects, professional instructors actually deliver a negative impact to the performance of their students.

The report from HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka reviewed dozens of studies that looked into the issue. For example, a 1999 Thomas Fordham Foundation study called “Better Teachers, Better Schools” looked at data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study survey of 24,000 eight-grade students.

It found, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, mathematics and science students who have teachers with emergency credentials do no worse than students whose teachers have standard teaching credentials, all else being equal. This result should, at the very least, cast doubt on assertions that standard certification should be required of all teachers.”

According to the HSLDA report, “[A] study also found that having a degree in education has no impact on student science test scores and, in mathematics, having a B.A. in education actually has a statistically negative impact on scores in math!”

According to the evaluation of studies, “Most education officials publicly claim that teachers need special ‘qualifications’ in order to be effective. As a result, public education organizations often promote legislation or an interpretation of the law which would require home school parents to have one of three qualifications: 1) a teacher certificate, 2) a college degree, or 3) pass a ‘teacher’s exam.'”

But, the HSLDA report said, “Although this seems reasonable on the surface, such requirements not only violate the right of parents to teach their children as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, but virtually all academic research documents that there is no positive correlation between teacher qualifications (especially teacher certification requirements) and student performance.”

The assessment said, “One of the most significant studies in this area was performed by Dr. Eric Hanushek of the University of Rochester, who surveyed the results of 113 studies on the impact of teachers’ qualifications on their students’ academic achievement. Eighty-five percent of the studies found no positive correlation between the educational performance of the students and the teacher’s educational background.

“Although 7 percent of the studies did find a positive correlation, 5 percent found a negative impact,” the report said.


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