Article: States Loose on Homeschooling Regulations

Find the original post from the Middletown Journal here: http://www.middletownjournal.com/news/middletown-news/many-states-loose-on-homeschooling-regulations-1348366.html

Many states loose on homeschooling regulations

By Richard O. Jones and Denise Wilson, Staff Writers
Updated 12:15 PM Friday, March 23, 2012

With ever-tougher academic standards coming from both state and federal legislatures, schools are under unprecedented, increasing pressure to perform well on a variety of measures, including mandatory testing and more rigorous teacher evaluations.

But much of the pressure that trickles down to the students can be avoided when parents adopt a do-it-yourself approach to education.

To many, homeschooling is an effective way for families to educate their children, to others it is a loosely regulated world of education.

Since 1989, Ohio has given parents the option to home school their children without interference — or assistance — from the public school system. The Ohio Administrative Code outlines the rules of home education “to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren).”

Charles Russo, an education professor at the University of Dayton, called Ohio’s system “loosey-goosey” and said it is a potential end run around compulsory education for some families.

With no federal regulation of home schools, it’s left to the states to decide how much regulation is needed. Stanford University political science and education professor Rob Reich likened it to “the Wild West,” with nearly half the states having either no regulations or low regulations.

All a parent needs to do is register with the local public school district in which they live, providing them with a curriculum that meets a specified course of study, a list of textbooks and an “assurance” that they will provide a minimum of 900 hours of instruction a year.

Parents must also provide documentation that the home teacher, usually a parent, has a high school diploma, an equivalent certificate or a standard test score that demonstrates high school equivalence. Lacking that, the home teacher would have to work under the direction of someone with a bachelor’s degree “until the child’s or children’s test results demonstrate reasonable proficiency.”

Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute in Oregon, said research shows home schoolers on average perform better on standardized tests than public school students.

But Reich disputes such claims, saying they are often tiny samples of home schooling students: “There is simply no existing study that gets a genuinely representative sample of all homeschoolers and that is in part because we don’t even know who is being home-schooled because regulations are so minimal.”

An estimated 22,000 children in Ohio are home-schooled, though Ohio Department of Education spokesman Patrick Gallaway acknowledged the estimate is derived from individual district reports.

At the end of the year, parents must submit a standardized, nationally-normed achievement test administered by a certified teacher or other authorized person, or a written narrative review or “alternative academic assessment.”

Beyond that, school districts have no authority to advise or interfere with the child’s education.

Individual districts are responsible for keeping tabs on parents who teach children at home, but the state administrative code specifies no penalties for districts that don’t comply.

“They don’t have to give us a reason (for homeschooling), but a lot of them do,” said Tim Carr, the Hamilton City School District’s director of student services. “Religion is the biggest reason they give, but sometimes we get people who are just disgruntled at the school system or if the child is missing a lot of school because of illness.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit advocacy organization in Virginia that provides legal services for its 80,000 member families, ranks each state according to their degree of regulations.

Ten states — including Michigan and Indiana — have no requirement for parents to register their home-schooled students.

“It’s as if they have gone off the grid entirely,” Reich said.

States that have attempted to tighten regulations have met with strong resistance from the well-organized home-school movement.

Russo said if a parent reports a problem, the Home School Legal Defense Association is likely to have a lawyer there the next day.

“Home-schooling advocates are very aggressive, and the Legal Defense Association is an in-your-face group that will be there in a heartbeat,” he said.

Michael Donnelly, one of the association’s 10 attorneys, said, “We just work wherever we can, whenever necessary, when opportunities present themselves to advocate in favor of reduced regulation because we don’t think it’s necessary. In fact in many respects we think it’s counterproductive. (Parents) are spending time jumping through hoops instead of spending time educating their kids.”

For Hamilton mother of five Peggy Bradshaw, it’s partly a matter of religion, but she said she homeschools her children because she enjoys it and it allows her to manage the family lifestyle better.

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“We’re not morning people, so we mostly work in the afternoon,” she said. “We have a little more freedom to do things without missing out on school work.

“Some days are more rigid than others, but we do school work every day.”

“The process basically in statue is really a right of families to homeschool,” said Lori Thesken, assistant superintendent for human resources at the Butler County Educational Service Center, which manages home school paperwork for the county’s local school districts. “If they choose to homeschool, they are required to notify us. They don’t request, they don’t submit an application, they notify us of their intent to homeschool.”

The only time a district has the authority to interfere is if the assessment at the end of the year fails to show any progress.

“Then we may be able to say this isn’t looking so good,” Thesken said. “I would say rarely has that occurred. We’ll hold this, until we get that assessment, and they can then be excused from compulsory education for the next year.”

“The school district has no responsibility for these families. Sometimes they’ll call and say, ‘I’m homeschooling can you send me the curriculum. No, we don’t have curriculum. Can I borrow textbooks? No, that is your responsibility. Most families take that responsibility very seriously. They either hire teachers, they share teachers amongst themselves and they will purchase a curriculum.”

Thesken said they know the students that are trying to fall between the cracks. “And there isn’t anything we can do about it.”

Because the students are excused from compulsory attendance, they are not counted in a district’s report to the state, and therefore the district does not get that child’s portion of state funding. But neither do the parents.

When homeschool students graduate, they do not get a high school diploma from the home district.

“They have to create their own diploma,” Carr said. “If they want a certificate, they can print one out from a computer program or whatever, but if they’re not in our curriculum, they can’t get a Hamilton City School District diploma.”

Maren Rausch, of West Chester Twp., has been homeschooling her two biological children, Kailey, a 14-year-old freshman, Justin, a 12-year-old sixth-grader and her two adopted children Elijah, a seven-year-old first-grader and Arilyan, a 5-year-old preschool student since 2002. Her kids have never been to school or attended Lakota.

She said she chose to homeschool her kids to teach them what she believes (Evangelical Christian) in without competition and to make sure they succeed.

“I have a better child teacher ratio than any classroom can afford. I’m 1 to 4, and there’s not a single public or private school with better ratios than that,” Rausch said.

Hamilton mother Peggy Bradshaw has been homeschooling her five children for 17 years. She graduated one and one decided not to finish. She now has a high school sophomore, an 11-year-old and a 10-year-old.

Bradshaw believes that a well-rounded education is “not just something you do at school.”

“If you want to instill a love of learning in your child, whatever they want to learn, they’ll learn,” she said. “We’ve always talked a lot with our kids about current issues and other subjects, so even if we’re not formally doing school, we have classroom-like discussions.”

Cherilu DuVal, who lives outside Trenton, along with her husband, Dave, started the Beth Yada Home School Group in 1988-89. The amilies are from Fairfield, Lebanon, Middletown, Monroe, Oxford, Springboro and Trenton. Beth Yada means house of learning.

She said 57 family member parent-run group, which today homeschools between 90 to 100 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 and features 46 Christian co-op families — started out in Franklin and then moved to Middletown where it currently meets at the Breiel Boulevard First Church of God on North.

“When I started homeschooling 23 years ago there wasn’t much information out there. It was hard to find curriculum. It was hard to find people who were homeschooling so people needed a lot of information about how to do it and they needed fellowship. As time has gone along with the internet there’s a lot of information and a lot of curriculum.”

Copyright © 2012 Middletown Journal, Middletown, Ohio, USA. All rights reserved.
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England’s Homeschoolers: The Canary in the Mine

Read Linda Dobson’s post on the Canary in the mine. Her blog is called: Parent At The Helm.

England  has always been a little more hostile towards home education than the U. S. They just can’t believe that there are any non-credentialed person can possibly teach anything to anyone over there.

The attitude aside, what is happening over there is very likely to begin happening over here. I’m specifically speaking to the fact that representatives in government at all levels, are taking less and less advice from the people they represent. It doesn’t matter what We The People think about how we should be governed, it’s coming down to We The Elite know what’s best for You the (little) People.

We have one recent case where two moms were charged and found guilty of educational neglect for not filling out an attendance sheet (Yeah, I know there’s more to the story, but no one is tellin’ it.) and the new cries for legislation and regulation are going to roll on from there.

I can feel it. 2010 will be the year of the “Hunted Homeschooler.”

Indiana needs standards for home schooling | The Journal Gazette Op-ed

Good Grief! The Journal Gazette reported last month that two mothers and their children were indentured into slavery to their public government school (for failing to keep attendance while they homeschooled) and now the second salvo has been shot across the bow.

Indiana needs standards for home schooling | The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Look for Indiana legislators in the pockets of the NEA and the ISTA to start pounding gavels on this issue next session.

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Followup: Lax Home-School Laws Put Kids at Risk

We learned in an earlier post that some people believe laws encouraging freedom and liberty, are actually dangerous to … the children. To put it in the context of homeschooling, I will quote from the article on www.detnews.com:

Michigan has one of the most lenient home school laws in the nation, giving tens of thousands of families the freedom to teach their children in the manner they want without government interference. But timid and sporadic enforcement of the law’s minimal requirements has been exploited by some unscrupulous parents hiding abuse or educational neglect.

In other words… parents who say they are homeschooling are more likely to abuse their children since their children are not under the supervision of the State for most of their childhoods.

Did the article mention that these parents have been under investigation for a long time? Nope. Wonder why? Me too.

Because the state is barred from collecting any data on home school students, it’s impossible to know how many parents may be abusing the law or how well those students are doing academically.

Does anyone with a brain cell agree with me that it’s asinine to think that  “collecting data” on families will deter abuse and violence against one’s own children? I know… CPS does an awesome job already.

But at least two deaths can be traced to parents pulling their children from public schools to squelch abuse complaints, authorities say. In both cases, parents claimed they were home schooling their children despite having no books or educational materials in their homes.

READ THAT AGAIN!! Two deaths related to pulling children away from the Government Schools! I will give $10 to anyone who can determine that Child Protective Services was NOT already involved in the lives of the family of the dead children.

You can quote me on this one:

…on a per capita basis, your children are thousands of times less likely to be assaulted, raped, abused and even killed, while in your home(school) than children under the care of their Government School.

This is insane! There were allegedly already “abuse complaints” filed somewhere, and then the parents yank the kids out of school. So… what? They get some get-out-of-school card that gives them sudden permission to void all pending inquiries by the state? Lunacy!!

Others have used home schooling as an excuse to keep children at home to care for younger siblings or ailing parents, without providing any educational materials.

NO CITATIONS OF FACTS OR WITNESSES TO SUPPORT THIS ASSERTION.

Just what can be done in such cases — and who can do it — is so unclear that some officials call a false claim of home schooling a “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

PLEASE QUOTE SOMEONE WHO SAYS THAT. I ASSUME “SOME” OFFICIALS MEANS MORE THAN ONE?

“As long as home schooling is as lax as it is,” said Charlotte Smith, a state Office of Children’s Ombudsman intake officer, “it’s an avenue for parents to hide abuse.”

I AM ABSOLUTELY GOING TO EXPLODE! Some officials say that reading ignorant news articles like this can cause medical emergencies and outbreaks of heavy drinking. Really. It’s true!

In 20 years, Michigan has moved from some of the most restrictive home school laws to among the most lenient. There are no instruction-time requirements, no curriculum standards, no minimum education level for the teachers and no testing.

2014-06-24_20148_wta_5dm3And as we have learned… Michigan cities like Detroit have some of the worse public schools in the nation. So how is all that red tape and curriculum standards working out for you all? Pretty awesome, if you go by all of the photographers who are using Detroit as the super-model of urban decay photo essay subjects.  Catch some more examples of these monuments to the failed Government Education Complex, here.

That freedom has fueled an explosion of Michigan home schools, with an estimated 72,000 children now learning at home.

Did you know that the Indiana DOE thinks there are around 23,000 homeschoolers in Indiana? Would it bother you to know that in reality, it could be as high as 80,000? What difference does this make? It only points out that on a per capita basis, your children are thousands of times less likely to be assaulted, raped, abused and even killed, while in your home(school) than children under the care of their compulsory Government School. How’s that for a factoid?

Why are government officials all of a sudden so worried about FREEDOM? All this “freedom” caused an explosion of homeschooling? How about all this educational slavery finally caused parents to wake up and to seek out alternative educational options.

Just sayin’.

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During the past year [2005], 7.9% of students nationwide had been threatened or injured with a weapon (gun, knife, or club) on school property one or more times.
2005 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance

If Indiana Homeschoolers were experiencing the same kinds of violence, that would mean (assuming there were 40,000 homeschoolers in Indiana) over 3,160 homeschoolers are allegedly experiencing the kinds of violence and “abuse” that close to 800,000 Hoosier Public Schoolers experience (for a fact) every year in those protective institutions we call Schools.

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Moms Plead Guilty to Ed Neglect

The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. said it this way: Moms’ pleas highlight home-school dilemma.” What really happened is a different story. The headline should have read: “Two moms who pissed off their government school by re-enrolling their children last year, now slaves to the state for failing to make and mark up attendance calendars when their kids were learning at home for awhile.

OOPS! I see the problem: The truth makes headlines too long!

Attendance Certificate from 1930 (Click image to go to rootsweb.ancestry.com)

There’s also another problem I have: When private citizens know things about a situation that the media doesn’t (or just won’t ask about) we run into a frustration factor as we listen to or read speculations on the part of the public that are so wild and not based on reality (let alone the facts) that it’s laughable.

It would be great to blog about what we know, but we aren’t “the professionals” and for some reason (probably reasonable reasons, like we aren’t professionals) our information isn’t going to get the respect needed to give our facts the legs they need to make the story complete.

What most people see (and think) when they read The Journal Gazette’s story, is that there seems to be a problem with homeschooling, when parents can “educationally abuse” their own children without the State or any other government agency getting in there and saving those children. There appear to be “loopholes” in the law that “some people” are using as a means of hiding the fact that they are ABUSING their children! It’s as if people think that the act of homeschooling alone breeds violence. Right… and being poor causes armed robbery. The problem is, the law (any law) has nothing to do with what a person will or will not do, given the lack of moral character typical law breakers posess.

But let’s stay on homeschooling laws, since it’s alleged that the breaking of these laws, led to the “educational abuse/neglect” of children. You want to know what Indiana Homeschooling law says? Here it is:

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There. Surprised? Why? Didn’t you know that there is no mention of “homeschooling” in Indiana Law anywhere? There’s no “Homeschooling Law” anywhere on the books. If you want to read (in English) what the Indiana Education Code really says, check it out on the IHEN.org web site. (There’s a link to the Indiana DOE site from there.)

In a nutshell, parents who educate their children at home, are running private schools. Most all laws and rules that apply to private schools in Indiana, also apply to parents who homeschool. There is one rule that private schools and homeschooling parents must follow in order to meet the requirements for Indiana’s Compulsory Attendance Law: Parents must “keep attendance.” Don’t take my word for it. Read it from the IDOE web site:

Do home educators have to provide curricula, an educational plan, or other proof of educational services to the public schools to show that they are competent to educate in their home?

No. Home educators (the term is interchangeable with home schoolers) must, upon request of the local or state superintendent, show attendance records. There is no format to the records required by law. See I.C. 20-33-2-20. Home educators must also register with the State Department of Education as a private school. See I.C. 20-33-2-31. They do not have to use any specific type of curriculum. See I.C. 20-33-2-12. One interpretation of educational law as it applies to home educators is that it is legislative intent that there is a form of accountability (attendance) but not of quality control. Consequently, the public schools do not have any jurisdiction to demand that home schools provide anything other than attendance records. Issues of equivalency or neglect are questions of law that should be referred to the proper authorities in your county. The proper authorities include, but are not limited to, Child Protection Services, the Prosecutor’s office, and law enforcement.

Yup! My kids are here, in the house (or at the library, or visiting the museum) and they are “attending” our little private school. That’s it. State laws are satisfied. The State just needs to know that all children are ATTENDING a school of some sort. That’s because the State mandates ATTENDANCE, not EDUCATION. If the State actually mandated “education” then by all accounts, every Government School Employee who socially promotes or graduates a child that can’t read and write should be fired and jailed.

But wait! That’s what happened to these two moms! They ended up with one year probation, whereby if they fail to inform the court of every single excused and unexcused absence of their children (in public school) they could face jail time for breaking their probation agreement. I call that slavery. But I’m a blunt kind of person.

Actually, aren’t ALL public school parents on probation? I mean… if their kids skip too much school, we do fine and eventually jail them, right?

Now you ask: “So… they weren’t really abusing their children by not teaching them anything?”

I don’t know. For some reason, the actual teaching of the children was never brought up. Probably because the law does not allow for the state to dictate curricula. Only ATTENDANCE was brought up. The moms didn’t keep attendance while they were homeschooling, and when they put their children BACK IN PUBLIC SCHOOL ABOUT A SEMESTER OR TWO AGO!! (oh… don’t remember THAT fact, did you? That’s because it wasn’t reported.) the school’s control freak in charge asked them for attendance records, so they could “prove” the kids were being homeschooled before coming BACK TO PUBLIC SCHOOL. (It’s a vindictive thing that some Government School Employees do because they can. It’s not like they believe that ATTENDING something actually means you LEARN something. Heck! Just look around where they work and you’ll have to agree.)

Well, it seems these kids have been back in public school for more than enough time to make this entire thing a moot point. (That means meaningless.) But for some reason, these two women were brought up on charges anyway.

I believe some reporters and publishers who care about the truth, should either start asking questions and reporting with a little more depth, or maybe trying to put a little more truth in their headlines.

Yeah, I know… too long.

[Stay tuned for more on “attendance” issues and what really happens when children are independently educated outside of State Control.]

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