Why Do Homeschoolers Resist Government Oversight?

Why do homeschoolers resist government oversight?
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I recently posted a picture of a letter an Oklahoma school district was handing out to homeschoolers, and I warned that my homeschooling friends in Oklahoma should not follow the requirements in the letter, as they were beyond what is required of homeschoolers by law.

In the comments of that post, the question came up of why homeschoolers resist government oversight. I mean, if we are doing a good job, wouldn’t we want to report that to officials? Public school students are required to take tests and follow approved curriculums, so why aren’t homeschoolers? And if we don’t want to report our students’ progress, what are we trying to hide?

One person even asked “Are homeschooling families fearful if their children are required to take standardized tests they would then be forced to attend public or private school if their scores are low?” (This was deleted by the commenter later.)

I can only speak for myself and my family, since those are the only opinions I know for certain, but I suspect the real root of why homeschoolers don’t want the government all up in our Kool-Aid is that we are really mavericks at heart.

When our family first began homeschooling 13 years ago, we didn’t know anyone else in our town or our families who did it. We were going against the grain, swimming upstream, breaking the mold.

Non-conformists. Mavericks.

That same spirit is what is required for most homeschoolers to keep doing, year after year, what most of their friends, family members, and neighbors are not.

This sense of “I’ll do it my way, but thanks for asking,” is why many homeschoolers object to following approved curriculum and submitting test scores to government officials.

Add to that the fact that homeschooling families are not participating in government schooling, so why should we report our statistics or conform our education model to them? As one friend put it, “That would be like turning in an attendance record to a church you do not attend.”

Then there’s the healthy dose of distrust that the government will do an adequate job in any endeavor they monopolize. (Detroit, anyone?) Why would we want to walk in lock-step with government schools, when we can do much better on our own?

But I think this commenter, Amanda, said it best.

Public schools and their employees/programs are required to account and report things, and stay accountable, because they are using public dollars and are essentially employees to public money. As such, they do and ought to provide all kinds of accountability to pretty much everyone and their mother/neighbor/tax paying citizen for their choices in manner and method of providing educational services. Parents using their own dollars to educate their children (who, let’s remember, they’re entitled to execute in utero should they so choose!) don’t owe accountability to the state or anyone else.

Precisely!

Why won't homeschoolers submit to government oversight?

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Homeschoolers do not feel we owe it to the government to allow them to review our test scores or approve our curriculum.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Comments

  1. This is one of those standing encores kinda deals. You can’t see me, but I assure you I am standing and clapping. Thank you for writing this. I am a homeschooler in PA, my child has not yet reached the age of reporting, but I dread that age. In PA we are required to report days logged, to submit an affadavit that contains: educational goals, an assurance that we are covering all of the subjects required, and an assurance that our child/children are receiving ALL of the required vaccinations. We may opt out of these vaccinations for religious reasons, or ethical or medical reasons, but not because “I’m suspicious of what it might do to my child’s body, so I skipped shots b, and c, only.” I am frustrated and dreading reporting to the state what I am doing with my child’s mind and body, not because I think I am doing a subpar job, or because I am afraid they will tag me as not doing enough, but because it is none of their business! My children are smart, happy, and healthy, and I chafe against a system that forces me to school them in such a rigid manner. This is one case where I wish I lived in Texas, spiders and heat notwithstanding. Freedom is more and more attractive by the day.

    • You wrote the words of my heart. I too am in PA and dreading when my daughter hits age 8. The thought of all those requirements sends me into a cold sweat and puts unneeded pressure and stress on all involved. I’ve heard PA is one of the worst for homeschoolers. And I am claiming the religious exemption. We are not to put damaging items into our bodies as commanded by our Lord…. I do not trust those vaccines! :(

    • Re: Elizabeth…

      I’m in PA too. I know exactly what you fear, they are my fears too and it seems that we are fighting to put out more and more fires lately. Indeed, moving seems more likely for us each year.

      That said, one of my own reasons for not wanting the government “supervising” or “approving” my children’s education is b/c my philosophy is not the same as theirs, my methods do not look like theirs. But different means not-equal in THEIR eyes. Different is derogatory in THEIR speak.

      I am striving for a liberal arts education for my children, liberal arts founded in the Classics thankyouverymuch. So while my children are learning very meaningful things every day (want to know anything about WWII anyone? Or Greek mythology???) they will not do as well on a standardized test. I will not waste time diagramming sentences. We will study math and Longfellow, we will not waste time learning how to properly fill in a bubble on a test. My children learn every blessed day something that makes them better human beings, not doing “practice” tests so the school can qualify for funding. (How abysmal is that?)

      • Diagramming sentences?? Where is that taught anymore? As a lover of all things grammar, I think that diagramming sentences is a wonderful tool that equips kids with better syntax, sentence structure and good mechanics. Language skills, though, have become a lost art.

        Furthermore, I submit that teachers (my husband and daughter, both Godly people who love Jesus, are high school teachers–chemistry and ASL) don’t spend any more time teaching bubbling than this blog gave instructions for making scrubbers. It’s not wasting time to instruct students how to bubble, because, in fact, one day your kids may have to complete an application that includes bubbling.

        I am a huge homeschool proponent (though I didn’t homeschool all ten of my kids all the way to the end high school, they were all homeschooled for most of their school life). However, I think that it’s imperative to stay on point when arguing the merits of homeschooling.

    • I moved from Pittsburgh, PA just for that reason :( I do miss it so much but there is a spirit in Texas it is what I imagine America was like before our freedom started being taken away.

    • RE: Elizabeth–I’m in PA too. We’ve been homeschooling since 2003 (wow, when did that happen?) and I graduated my first high schooler in June. It’s not really as hard as people think; more, only as hard as you make it…or how insane your school district is! LOL I got lucky; we moved into a district the year before we started that hasn’t really given me much grief. We had to fight a bit in the beginning to make sure I wasn’t doing “extra” for them, but I stood my ground and told them what they were getting and what they weren’t.
      Do yourself a favor–get a copy of the PA Homeschool law and re-read it at least once a year (maybe on your summer vacation) and anytime something comes up that you aren’t sure about. You will get to the point where you KNOW what is acceptable and what is not. For instance–I have a paper in the front of the Manlings’ ports that states that since we homeschool all year round (learning being a part of regular daily life), they have gone over and above the 180 day requirement. DO NOT, send them attendance logs. They aren’t required, but if you send them, they will expect them!
      http://home.comcast.net/~askpauline/index.html
      That is the site someone sent me to all those years ago, and you will find a whole lot of VERY useful information for anyone who homeschools in PA.
      It can be done. It really can. Without losing your mind in the process.

      • Thank you! :) I was not aware attendance logs were not required! Good to know! I’ve been researching year round homeschooling, and my contacts (an evaluator, and some other PA homeschoolers I know.) said that most school districts in our area won’t accept that. Apparently the law states your portfolio deadline is in June. My Evaluator said he’d have my back if I chose to school year round, but that it would be a fight initially. This is some good info! Thank you!

    • Many vaccines were originally cultured in aborted fetus material. MMR and Hep A among others.
      http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-vaccines-made-from-cells-of-aborted-fetuses

      • Sorry, but that’s an urban legend. http://autism.about.com/od/medicalissuesandautis1/f/vaxfetal.htm

        The dead viruses used in a vaccine are from a culture that was originally cultivated in aborted fetuses from the 1960′s. No abortions any more recent than that have ever had anything to do with vaccines. Also, the cells currently used for this may be descendents of fetal cells, but vaccine-culture cells themselves are not fetal tissue and were not aborted.

        • If I may quote myself: “Many vaccines were originally cultured in aborted fetus material. ”

          Out of curiosity, how do you say that is an urban legend when you repeat the exact same thing yourself?

          The article I linked to is very clear, there were two aborted fetus cell lines (WI-38 line (Winstar Institute 38) and MRC-5 (Medical Research Council 5)) from 1964 and 1966 that were the basis of many vaccines.

          I think you jumped to the conclusion that a Christian would not object if there were no actual fetal material in the vaccine, but no, we object to how those vaccines originated.

          From the catholic article “However, there is another aspect to be considered, and that is the form of passive material cooperation which would be carried out by the producers of these vaccines, if they do not denounce and reject publicly the original immoral act — the voluntary abortion — and if they do not dedicate themselves together to research and promote alternative ways, exempt from moral evil, for the production of vaccines for the same infections. Such passive material cooperation, if it should occur, is equally illicit.”

  2. I really do not understand this post at all. I mean the commenter you quote seems to say we don’t have to be accountable to the state or any human and we don’t want to be. Now, I can understand a school caring if a home school student is learning or not, as they don’t want the child penalized because the parents aren’t doing their job. But the school can’t mandate a curriculum on a home schooler. I could see a school wanting home schoolers to do standardized tests though, if I felt standardized test were worth the time. (I do not.) But the community does have an interest on if a child is educated, even if it is at home. How is a society to make sure it’s children are educated if they are home schooled and don’t want to report anything at all? And no, I am not saying home schoolers should take standardized testing, as I hate standardized testing, but I do think it might not be a bad idea to find a way to confirm a home schooled student is learning, but have no idea how to do it. Sorry, but I and my husband both had experiences with home schooled students who were so behind in math and english that they were nearly non-functional in early high school. Yes, this was 20 years ago, before there was a lot of home school curriculum available like there is now.

    • I want to understand your comment b/c you make a reasonable argument. But I would like to add here, that more than a couple of public school kids graduate every year functionally illiterate. The DoD says 1 in 5 of every potential recruits is unable to pass it’s entry exam. And that is with “over-sight”.

      The studies prove that homeschooled children from low regulation states perform as well as homeschooled children from high regulation states on SATs. So trying to link regulation, over-sight, monitoring or any other euphemism for state control of families to better education just isn’t supported by any data.

      There is a mind-set that children should be separated from family, from their mothers to be made better. And that is the saddest thing in the world to me. When people point out families that are so dysfunctional that they couldn’t possibly be good educators of their children, I see the end result of the disintegration of the family. When people point at children who nag until the parent gives in and who always gives in, I see a parent that was well trained to concentrate for 45 minutes and then trained to move on to the next task. When I see families and the children call their teacher Miss or Mrs. or Mr. but call their own parents by their first names I see the end of that family. In fact, it’s not normal for kids to be disrespectful to family members and sweet to everyone else. That is just the end result of a 100 years of methodically destroying the family.

      *sigh*

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Skirnir,
      Just as you have an opinion about whether standardized tests are a valuable tool, each parent has an opinion about curriculum and testing. And since the PARENT is responsible for his OWN children, we believe our thoughts, ideas, and preferences on how we raise our own children ought to be given more weight than the opinion of Joe Shmuckatelli, who lives in Washington, DC.

    • Unfortunately the public school system has also produce children who are non functional in math and english. It isn’t something that is unique to homeschooling, or government schooling, that children fall through the cracks. People sin, aka, they don’t do as they ought. We cannot guarantee that every child in the system comes out proficient, so why would we begin to have the system stick its nose into family life of people who have chosen to opt out? Not to change the subject, but another reason homeschoolers dislike oversight from the State is that it is something like one deficient Mother telling another deficient Mother they ought to care better for their child.
      Ex:
      Judy: Um, Deborah, you know, your son is eating glue…
      Deborah: Yup, I’m taking care of that, but is that the child you are babysitting over there climbing up the filing cabinet?

      I think what everyone thinks in a situation like that is this: Why wasn’t Judy watching her own charge? He was in more danger. And, she is in a much more complicated situation, seeing as she is responsible for someone else’s child. Unfortunately, she was so busy noting Deborah’s kid was eating glue. A nasty, if not, harmless activity. Not all homeschoolers are harmless, they make mistakes like anyone, but most people who wish to homeschool, do so out of a genuine desire to do right by their children. It is a rare homeschooler who does it because they are lazy and it is the easy way out. It is harder to homeschool your children then to turn them over to the state. Arguing for state oversight is arguing for Judy to watch Deborah’s child, while ignoring the child in her care who is shimmying up the filing cabinet.

    • Danyelle says:

      “Sorry, but I and my husband both had experiences with home schooled students who were so behind in math and english that they were nearly non-functional in early high school.”
      I can’t help myself, but it should be “my husband and I” and English should be capitalized. Both rules I just learned last year while homeschooling my kids for the 2nd year. I know there are tons of homeschool kids who are “nearly non-functional”, but the same can be said of public school kids. I have taught Sunday school for many years and was blown away at how many high school kids couldn’t read simple scripture. (All public school kids, by the way.) I am also a product of public school and am here to tell you that I should have never graduated when I did. My school passed me just to get me out of there. I have grown up a lot since then, but the fact remains that I didn’t know squat when I was in public school. I’m still a work in progress. As to whether “society” is aware of whether my children are educated or not…please explain how it’s any of their business? When I decided to have children, there were 3 people involved in making those lives – God, my husband, and me. I didn’t go out and ask society if it was ok or if they approved. I also didn’t report to anybody when and how my children were conceived, fed, disciplined, potty-trained, clothed, played with, socialized, etc. So why in God’s name would I ask society’s opinion or permission on how I educate these children? They are mine; not society’s and darn sure not the government’s. I have more interest in them turning out to be well rounded individuals than anyone else. And looking at these 4 sweet faces, I’d say we’re doing a pretty darn good job – just God, my husband, and little ole me.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Why is it that the P.S.S has us all thinking because a child is a certain age they have to preform to a certain standard? Children are different. The beauty of Homeschooling is allowing my children to “get what they learn” before moving on. I have 6 children some are what PS would call ahead in some areas and some behind because I move them on when they get the lesson and not until then. Sorry my writing will not be great I was public schooled but I am learning so much with my children.

      • Amen! Danyelle;)

      • I would have been the first to admit that public schools turn out just as many illiterate students, but I still have no idea why home schoolers are so insistent on no over sight at all. I understand not wanting to take standardized tests, but wanting to know that the student is actually spending time learning? Where is the harm in that? I mean, I guess if the regulations get onerous, which I would have no idea if they do or not. Just seems to me that home schoolers despise government of any type. That is what the original post seemed to say without any real reasons given. I get that the government shouldn’t tell us how to raise our children, but is government oversight of home schooling anywhere near that level?

        And I am sorry, if my grammar is inadequate. When I type on blogs, I don’t tend to reread my sentences and often times change them midway through. If that is the type of response I am going to get here, I will stop reading this blog. Sorry, I am in a bad mood and this just made it worse. I have work I should be doing.

        • Very briefly, check out the Common Core standards being pushed across the country (http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/download-the-standards). When you start wading through the pdf’s, you can see very quickly that grade level progress is charted very specifically. Without going any further into the pro’s and con’s of Common Core, we have a break with homeschool mentality.

          Most homeschoolers love being able to let children learn at their own pace. So while some of us have kids that teach themselves to read at 3 or 4, other kids don’t start reading until 8 or 9. If the government is testing that 9 year old, they’re going to fail the homeschool.

          That is just one very simple, common example.

    • So, I wonder if this doesn’t come down to the “village” mindset. The idea that my children are part of a village and it is the village’s responsibility to make sure my child is learning is one I highly disagree with. My children are MINE. No one else has the responsibility to educate my children except me. It is not your job to check on me. My children are my God-given responsibility, not yours. Now, am I saying I should not educate them? No. And obviously there are times in which some intervention is required (physical abuse), but do we penalize all of the parents doing it right because of the few that might be doing it wrong? At what point do we draw the line between making sure children are educated and making sure the government doesn’t interfere in the family? A lot of freedoms have been stripped from us under the “it’s for the children” cause.

      • Anna,
        We homeschool our kids currently in VA (we are military so we’ve been in a few different states) and there is a “village” mindset where some feel like it’s society’s job to help raise children. However, as I like to say, “I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.” :-)

        On a side note, Smockity, we visited the church you attend with my parents, who are also members of the same church, a few weeks ago. My Dad took them to class and I stood in the back of the classroom observing. Seeing immediately that they were not someone she knew and were most likely visiting, one of your dd walked right up to them and introduced herself and welcomed them, while others didn’t say a word to them. My dad said to me later, “I have to find out who that young lady was. She walked right up to them, introduced herself, and was so friendly and welcoming.” Later my Dad had my dd look through the directory and she pointed out your daughter. I had guessed she was one of your kids but wasn’t surprised when it was confirmed. Kudos to her for being so inviting and welcoming to a visitor. Way to go!

        • Smockity Frocks says:

          Tracy,

          Thank you for telling me! I read this out loud to all my kids and got choked up! My only regret is that I didn’t get to meet you! (I think I was home with sick littles that day.)

    • Yes. We move a lot so I never know what we will get. Now we are in MD but came from VA and originally TX. Texas is hands off. Va is moderate. Let us know and submits tests at such and such age. MD requires being accountable to the county school system or use a private or church school as an umbrella. We have to submit to reviews twice a year. I would rather stay clear and pay the fee each semester. I am very leery of the school system. It states in the law that if they feel you aren’t doing an adequate job you have to put them in public school. We just started this year and in 1.5 we move again. Here’s hoping for a hands off state… Hum how many if them are there?? Lol

    • Skirnir,
      In response to your comment, “But the community does have an interest on if a child is educated, even if it is at home. How is a society to make sure it’s children are educated if they are home schooled and don’t want to report anything at all?”, I would suggest that society has bigger fish to fry. Primarily, a public education system which incessantly gobbles funding and needs more, while the U.S. falls farther behind (almost yearly) other nations in terms of basic education such as math, science, etc. Micro-managing private citizens is the least of its worries.

    • “Sorry, but I and my husband both had experiences with home schooled students who were so behind in math and english that they were nearly non-functional in early high school.”

      Mari, Crismus, miluen, alouins, scerd…. want to know what words I just typed? You may ask my 14 year old publicly schooled niece as they are straight from things she has written to me. Or I can tell you what I have deciphered each time. “Merry, Christmas, million, allowance, scared”. So, this line of thinking that you know some poorly educated homeschoolers is a moot point considering how many poorly educated publicly schooled children there are. If the government can’t clean up their own schools, they really don’t have time to mess with ours.

  3. I am on both sides of the equation. I am a public school classroom teacher and I am homeschooling my middle school son and high school son.

    My classroom had turned into a nightmare of test, test, test. The teachers at my site pushed for less testing because we felt in our hearts it was doing more harm than good. Last year we removed two-thirds of the tests and guess what state scores went up! So the district and state do not always know best.

    My own children are “little geniuses” to quote their former teachers, so a public school system set up to meet the needs of the low to middle kids leaves them to fend for themselves. I am done with that attitude, so we are choosing to finish up their middle school and high school education at home. We can and will provide the rigor and focus these boys need to feed their amazing minds!

    We do not want any sort of government oversight, since we know for a fact they were already unable to meet the needs of our boys. We will let their SAT scores be the judge of how well we did!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more! I, too, am in MD and while it’s not the worst, every time reviews come up I just feel like I have to take MORE of my precious time to do this. Twice a year, for the last 5 years, I’ve gotten nothing but glowing reviews. You’d think I’d have earned some type of exemption by now, but no… and it kills me.

      I had the same issue as Amy Lynne (I’m also a former teacher) and the PS just couldn’t accommodate my oldest son, and admitted as much, because there were too many other kids in the classroom. His teacher actually SAID to me “I know we’re not working on his level, and he’s bored (not disruptive at all, though), but I can’t just tailor everything to him because he’s a few years ahead. He needs to learn how to make himself interested in what we’re doing, and if he can’t stay focused on that, perhaps you should consider some medication.” He came out two weeks later, only because by law you have to give the state two weeks notice. Otherwise, it would have been that day.

      And I totally agree with Amber, too!

  4. I believe homeschooling done well is wonderful, and I support 100% parent’s right to school their children as they think best. However, as a retired teacher in Texas, I have known of multiple cases where students were pulled out to be “homeschooled” because parents did not want to be fined or jailed for failing to send their children to school, or to avoid charges of child abuse. These kids need protection from the government. I have no answers as to how to solve this problem , but it is something to keep in mind.

    • I know this post is months old, but I feel a response should be left for this commenter for the sake of others who may read these comments and wonder this same thing.

      There are already laws on the books to protect abused children. If a teacher knows that a child is being abused, they are under legal obligation to report it to the police. Therefore, a teacher who *knows* that a parent has pulled a child out of school to avoid a child abuse charge has enough reason to believe that child is being abused already and *must* report the suspected abuse to the authorities.

      Further, I have yet to see a verified story about a child who was pulled from public school, taught nothing at home, and there was no abuse in the home. Lazy parents who are not abusive (parents who don’t want to go to jail for not sending their kid to school) send their kid to school and then go back to bed, they don’t claim to homeschool.

  5. Yes, yes, and yes. I am totally a maverick-which is where the Barefoot Hippie part comes into play.=) I was home schooled when home schooling wasn’t legal in our state. Now it is legal, and I praise God for that. But, I don’t feel I need to keep to the government’s standards. They don’t even keep to their own standards. Anyone looking at my curriculum and what we accomplish on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis would have no doubts about the sufficiency of my children’s education. I think a lot of home schoolers downplay their actual methods to outsiders, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t very studious.

  6. Laurie Holcombe says:

    I too work in public education (in TX) and my husband is a superintendent of schools here. Our girls both attend public school and it has been a blessing to them. While we do not agree with the mandated tests, we do use public funds and thus, are subject to the the requirements of that. We feel there is something to standardized testing, that must be taught, especially if one wants to get into college, or graduate schools, as standardized tests are used for entry criteria. That’s simply the way it works, homeschooled or not. We believe that a mixture of home schooling and public schooling is best for our daughters. We review (reteach when necessary) every paper and hear about every assignment with them (they are 16 and 13) and always have. We believe they have the best of both worlds.

  7. We have always been Mavericks, too! And will be til the day we die. I began home schooling 22 years ago. I was a lone wolf in a world wanting to devour us. There were no home school groups, easy-to-find curriculum, or any outside support at all. We were always the “weird family” that kept their kids at home to learn. In our state, specifically our county, our only requirement at the time was attendance records, and a yearly report of the subject grades. There was no mandatory testing. Now there is. I believe the government is putting more requirements on home schooling to scare people away from it. I believe the government realizes home schoolers are smart in a lot more ways than just a text book. They learn to think for themselves, solve problems on their own, be self-sufficient. If the country is filled with young people who think on their own, and love freedom, they can’t be controlled easily. THAT scares the government. To touch on the educational aspect, not all children learn the same way and home schooling allowed me to teach each of my children in ways that fit their needs, so learning was fun and something they hungered for. Just to wrap up my home schooling experience, all 5 of my children are college graduates, some with multiple degrees. They are all successful, productive citizens raising beautiful families of their own. I hope today’s home schooling families are not intimidated by the government and stand their ground for the right to educate their children as they see fit. It will be these children who weren’t indoctrinated with mush in public schools that will save our nation. Stepping off my soap box now.

  8. I have many issues but my main issue is this:

    The main authority and responsibility for educating children lies with the parents. PERIOD. Whether a parent chooses to put their child in public school, send them to private school or school them at home, that parent is taking hold of their natural God-given responsibility and choosing to educate their child.

    When the government steps in and says, “we need to make sure you’re educating your child,” they are effectively saying, “we’re taking over the responsibility of making sure that all children everywhere are being educated” (and more – “that they are being educate according to our standards.”) They are usurping parental authority. When a parent chooses to put their child in public school, they are choosing to place their child under the authority of the public government school system, accepting their standards, their curriculum, and their reports. A parent who sends their kid to private school or schools their child at home has not – and should not be forced to. We *will* continue to reject that.

    There are many ways that our government is trying to usurp the parents as the ultimate and final authority of their child’s well being, and this is only one of them. Knowing all the other attacks on parental rights makes me want to fight this one all the more.

  9. I have had conversations with publicly educated adults who didn’t know we were independent if England. So I don’t think over sight is really needed in homeschool.

  10. As a former public school teacher and a current homeschooling parent, I know that the closer and closer a person in authority gets to an individual child, the more that person just wants the government to mind its own business.

    A classroom teacher who knows her students well and knows each of their special circumstances, that teacher knows that no test can measure the extent of that student’s worth or knowledge. The same goes with parents, school counselors, etc. The more interaction you have one-on-one with a child, the more you know that the child does not need government intervention impeding his/her progress and learning. Politicians use education as a voting tool, and they rarely listen to people who actually work with students to understand those students’ needs.

    In addition, I’m sure there are parents who abuse the right to homeschool, just like there are citizens who abuse other laws and rights of our country. The trouble with additional oversight in situations like this is that the regulations don’t actually force people to make better decisions. In fact, it causes more work to those wanting to comply with the law and more secrecy and rule-breaking for those who abuse the system in the first place. In other words, regulation and oversight continues to punish the good kids.

    As for those who abuse the freedoms we have as homeschooling families by choosing not to accept the responsibility of their education, I propose letting nature take its course. Natural consequences tend to be the best oversights and regulations for stupid and foolish actions.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Kelly,
      This is spot on.

      The attitude that homeschoolers need oversight is akin to having every parent turn in a menu plan to their local health department. Sure, there are parents who don’t feed their kids healthy food, but we don’t need an agency checking all of our refrigerators to be sure we are.

    • Yes!

    • Except that the “natural consequences” are something that the whole society has to bear. So yes, it’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure their children are are getting what they need to become, at a minimum, fully functioning adult members of society, and it’s society’s *right* to hold those parents’ accountable and to step in when parents are unwilling or unable to do that. Children are not property; they are your responsibility, but not yours to do with as you please.

      • For Christian homeschoolers, individualism is sacrosanct because it was a society of fully functioning adults that chose to have a murderer released into their midst rather than a Man whose most anti-social act was chasing money changers out of a house of worship. Humans are born to evil as sparks fly upward, and society is the manifestation of the lowest functioning common denominators of human action.

        Societies can never have rights, because a society has no responsibility (who can hold it accountable?) Individuals have rights, because they have the responsibilities. The rights are necessary to fulfill the responsibilities, not the other way around. Individuals have responsibilities because that is the way the Lord designed humanity (or you could call it the natural order of things). When individuals relinquish the responsibility for determining individually the level of achievement of their children, they by necessity relinquish the rights to fulfill that responsibility. That responsibility is not relinquished to an abstract concept called society, but rather to a fixed ordered force called government. When the government of this country was ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’, there was a high percentage of homeschoolers.

        And who can define the good of the goal of society anyway? Unless you are in theocratic Israel of the Old Testament, any good is merely evil by the standards of our God. Christians have a higher standard. We have been blessed beyond measure in this country to live to our own standards, but future of that is another topic.

        • So your argument for disdaining society is that it was a “society” that killed Jesus? Never mind that you should also disdain individuals to maintain consistency.

          Government is the instrument we use to represent the interests of society. You don’t like society. Fine. But we are individuals, yes, who live <in community. We belong to a group. And yes, groups do have rights. It is common sense for the group to create rules and enforce them for the good of the whole. What societies who value individual freedom have done, thankfully, is try to balance the good of the group with the rights of the individual.

          Now, you have the right in this country to educate your children at home rather than send them to school. But it is in everyone’s interest to make sure those children really are being provided an education. It’s in the group’s interest because both the benefits and the consequences of your children’s education or lack thereof are felt by the group. It’s in the non-abusive parents’ interests because it provides some accountability (which you seem to see as a requirement for responsibilities and rights). Most importantly, it’s in the children’s interests, because it is their individual rights, that the group is trying to protect. Children’s rights are already more vulnerable than others’ to abuse–put them in an isolated environment where the only adults they have any meaningful contact with are not accountable to anyone for anything? That says that the group doesn’t really care about their rights, or at least not enough. And sadly, that appears to be the case in certain states.

          • Is there, in the history of humanity, a more poignant argument against the inherent danger of a law-abiding society than the murder of Christ?
            Let me give you a little primer on rights. If coercion is involved to fulfill the right (eg a positive “rights” such as access to healthcare or education) it is not a right. Access to education is not a right because if nobody wanted to be a teacher, coercion would be involved to fulfill that “right”.
            Finally, if I may address your paranoia about what individuals do in the privacy of their homes, behind closed doors, you will be relieved to know that children are actually much safer these days, statistically (abortion and endless military campaigns aside of course) than they have been for the past several decades. I suggest hanging out at Leonore Skenazy ‘Free Range Kids’ website to ease your fears.
            A free world is a scary place, I get that. Being an adult is really hard, and being an adult in a free society that is based on individual rights when you can’t control what other people are doing is worse yet. That’s why the Bible is such a resting place. God tells us that sin is ever present, that the devil is roaming about like a roaring lion seeking to destroy us and that we should not have a spirit of fear! Even us homeschoolers, who fear more than anything the government indoctrinating the souls of our gifts from God, cast our burdens on Him.

            • “Is there, in the history of humanity, a more poignant argument against the inherent danger of a law-abiding society than the murder of Christ?” Well, yes, I think so. If you’re going to point to the evil potential of “law-abiding society”, I think the orderly extermination of millions based on ethnicity by the Nazi society is more compelling than the execution of a single man seen to be a rebel and a trouble-maker. Societies have the potential for evil, yes (as do individuals), so we should definitely take care with the laws that we create, and the ramifications they will have. But we also, as a society with representational government, are better able to protect ourselves–from evil individuals, from bearing the burden alone of a poor economy, from outside forces, from the negative effects of a poorly educated populace, from the government itself when it violates constitutional rights … and to better provide for ourselves by sharing some resources and developing infrastructures and providing some safety-nets to promote healthy risk-taking–but hey, I don’t need to tell you this. You live in this country. You benefit from the government–the one you despise and fear more than the “mean rooster” child abuser–every day.
              “Let me give you a little primer on rights.”That condescension is delicious, thank you. I’m fairly certain your definition of rights is not universally agreed upon. And are you talking natural or legal rights? Do children not have a right to be fed, sheltered, clothed? Even though if no one’s willing to do it, theoretically it could require coercion? In this country, they certainly have a legal right to the above, in addition to education.

              I’m not paranoid. I’m indignant (and incredulous) at those who place their “parental rights” on such a pedestal, they’re willing to completely ignore the interests of the more vulnerable. And by the way, why do you think it is that children are, statistically, much safer today than they have been in past decades? Might it have anything to do with better safeguards and better education? (I honestly don’t know, since I don’t know what stats you’re citing.)

              • We’re not putting parental rights on a pedestal. We’re standing on their foundation. Parental rights are rights inherent to the individual. As Scott Lazarowitz puts it (without clumsy condescension) “There is collective ownership of the individual, or there is self-ownership. There cannot be anything in between. No “shared” ownership of the individual’s life between the individual and the society in which one lives. That’s nutso. “.

                Contrary to what the president says, we are not beneficiaries of government. Government stands in the way of progress. Let me try with just one simple basic positioning of proper governmental role v. your preference. Homeschoolers submitting paperwork and marching their children in for visual inspection on a regular basis will tie up money and time of government employees. The government could use those resources for responding to and investigating REAL complaints of children being physically endangered by their living environment. Thereby fulfilling its role of protecting individual rights (of both parents and child in this model).

                “Whenever a progressive refers to “investments,” he or she is referring to confiscation of private wealth.
                Whenever a progressive invokes the “community,” that term refers to a state-engineered collective in which the individual has no rights.
                Whenever a collectivist refers to “public education,” that phrase is shorthand for the process of destroying a child’s developing sense of self-ownership and indoctrinating them in the notion that they are the property of the “community.” This process is also known as “socialization,” which is the indefinable value-added element that supposedly makes “public education” superior to homeschooling.
                Whenever an advocate of “public education” refers to “our children,” conscientious parents should take a quick inventory of their arsenals.”
                - Dr. Mary Jo Bane, Assistant Secretary of Administration for Children and Families at the US Department of Health and Human Services, 1993-1996

                • Christine C. says:

                  “Contrary to what the president says, we are not beneficiaries of government. ”

                  Do you pave your own roads, then? Are you reasonably able to buy food and medicines without worrying about whether you are going to be poisoned? If you are, like me, a woman with severe dysmenorrhea, are you able to get your medicines free of charge? Is anyone breaking into your house right now? Are you able to go to a police station if you need to? Can you call 911 in an emergency?

                  If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, then you are a beneficiary of the government. It truly is one of the quirks of American society to think that independence from the state is necessary for happiness.

                • Christine, by the logic you just used, that fact that Josh Powell of Virginia is alive, functional and has a future is all the proof needed that he benefited from the way his parents raised him and no complaint should be lodged against them.

  11. I homeschool in Ohio – we are required to submit either a portfolio approval by a certfied teacher (which can be hard since most teachers seem to te it personally that we homeschool) or standardized test results. Our children are required to score higher than the 25th percentile (Which if you think about it is downright unfair – that’s 1/4th of the kids tested … schools are not failing 1/4th of students). My daughter has ADD and struggles with testing so this has been a stressor for me every year. We also have to report to the district notifying them that we school our children at home and submitting a list of curriculum we plan to use for each subject. Even with all of this governing, our district has repeatedly stepped over the line of what they are allowed to dictate – for my family and several others I know … requiring scope and sequence for subjects (that was enjoyable .. here are the 80 pages of what my TWO kids will be learning…. hope it’s a good read.), sending children’s services in regards to truant children, attempting to enforce the public school year schedule on families, etc. It seems like the more the state governs the more the district attempts to exert authority where they have none.

  12. Of the few things that NJ has gotten right, their homeschooling “laws” have got to be the best. Here we are not required to do anything as far as homeschooling is concerned other than offer our children a “comparable” education. We don’t have to log anything: days, scores, grades, books. The only time it could become an issue is if someone else decided to make it one, i. e. if a family were reported to DYFS (family services) and it was then found out that they homeschool. Even then, the onus is totally on the government to prove that we are not “offering” a “comparable education to the ones offered to children of approximate age/grade in public schools. The parents only have to show that they’ve offered the education, not what those offerings have resulted in. It’s one of the reasons I am happy to live here. All things considered, since other evils exist in all the other states as well, we’ll be trying our best to stay in NJ.

  13. I agree. I’m not feeling very articulate at the moment (still recovering from yet another sleepless night with a teething 6 month old) so i’ll just put it bluntly: According to the Constitution, my children’s education is outside the government’s realm of responsibility.

    • Christine C. says:

      Not really! It’s outside of the federal government’s realm of responsibility. State and local government is different.

  14. I have homeschooled in PA for the last 10 years, graduated my first high schooler a couple of weeks ago, and have three more boys to go (another senior, and two middle schoolers). We’ve run the gamut from unschooling to eclectic to semi-CM depending on the mood and how paranoid I felt that year.
    I have a confession to make: my youngest child had his first standardized test last year…and he almost bombed it. BIG. I’d forgotten to show him how to fill in the bubbles.
    No, that really wasn’t a joke. He looked at me and was all, “Mom, what do I do with THIS??” See he’s used to having to write things and figure out math problems and put together projects for his school work. We don’t DO tests. Not for anything.
    I had a moment of panic trying to figure out what in the world we were going to study this year. Apparently my two younger children are ready to graduate from high school because we’ve DONE most of the stuff they need for it. (Not the higher level maths, but definitely a good cross section of the rest.) See, I was going through the bookshelves and putting away old unit studies and stuff….and I’m running out of room to keep things. I realized that my boys have gone through so much just reading books and doing “the basics” that there is NO WAY for me to accurately catalog everything they’ve done. The portfolios I’m required to turn in at the end of the year don’t even scratch the surface of what goes on in our house in the course of a year.
    And I don’t want the school district to know that. Because it’s none of their business what we do. Some years we do a lot. Some years…we don’t. But the cumulative amount of “schooling” that my kids do makes the public schools look lazy. My kids aren’t geniuses, and I have missed things with them that they “needed” for their standardized tests. We work around that and go on.
    After ten years (with another seven to go), I know exactly what I am willing to give the school district and the government–and it’s not much. They get the barest of bare minimums in testing and reporting, and I haven’t changed anything but the names on my “educational goals” in the last seven years–one for elementary, one for 7th and up. The boys choose what goes in their ports, and they’ve gotten even pickier than me! I suspect if things got really bad with the school district, they’d probably suggest we “mutiny” even before me!

  15. The idea from comments of if homeschoolers are doing a good job, wouldn’t we want to tell the officials we are doing a good job is like saying we do a good job of balancing our budget and should tell the government officials what an excellent job we are doing, and then let them come in and tell us the “proper” way to do it.

  16. I LOVE this!! The very reason I started homeschooling is because my daughter is special needs and after attending an IEP meeting, at which time no one seemed to be in agreement with what was best for HER, and then being told that I had NO OTHER OPTIONS, I threw my folder on the table and stated, quite frankly, that they were wrong. The State of IL gives me other options. I took my daughter’s hand and walked out (with my husband following, not sure really what to think because he was the one who had been trying to get me to homeschool). Guess what?? She IS Thriving and this year is starting out to be our BEST year ever.

    And I must say, I love Amanda’s comment too.

  17. Christine C. says:

    I totally get where you’re coming from, but kids who are homeschooled are especially vulnerable to abuse since they’re not necessarily seen by outsiders on a regular basis. This blog documents some of the horrific cases of abuse that kids were subjected to: http://hsinvisiblechildren.org/ On a purely academic note, there are kids like Josh Powell, whose parents use lax homeschooling regulations to completely deprive their kids of an education. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/students-home-schooling-highlights-debate-over-va-religious-exemption-law/2013/07/28/ee2dbb1a-efbc-11e2-bed3-b9b6fe264871_story.html

    Obviously most parents aren’t like this, but the reason that these policies are in place is to protect the most vulnerable members of society. I think that homeschooling parents should be amenable to the idea of having these minor inconveniences to their lives if it helps prevent another story like those of Hana Williams or Josh Powell.

    • Christine,
      Using this logic would mean you would allow authorities to come into your home to check your pantry and refrigerator and the cleanliness of your kitchen. Children have died from malnutrition, after all, and we can’t take the chance you won’t do that to your children.

      Do you see how that is irrational?

      • Christine C. says:

        Those two things aren’t really comparable. In the first place, if a school official or neighbor, etc, notices that a child looks malnourished, they have a responsibility to notify CPS, who will then investigate the claims. The homeschooling regulations aren’t mandating that a government official sit in on every classroom day. All they’re asking for is records that prove that actual education is happening, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask, especially when it helps protect the welfare of other children. I don’t mind having my rights infringed upon if it helps other members of my society. That is just part of the social contract. When you choose to live in a nation state, you agree to give up some of your freedoms in exchange for the protections afforded by the state.

        I don’t really see a reasonable alternative. What measures would you propose to help prevent the horrible abuses suffered by some children under the guise of homeschooling?

        • Smockity Frocks says:

          So, you don’t recommend that every single family needs oversight as far as providing nutritious meals to their children? Only those who are suspected of being neglectful should be checked out? BRILLIANT plan!

          Those measures would work BEAUTIFULLY for homeschooling as well.

          • Christine C. says:

            What is your proposed alternative, then? Absolutely no oversight?

            • Smockity Frocks says:

              Yes. Thank you.

              • Christine C. says:

                From what I’ve read on this blog, you have a huge heart and lots of compassion for people, especially children. Are you seriously saying that the safety of these kids is secondary to your right to raise your children as you see fit?

                • Thank you, Christine,

                  I am saying asking me to submit my curriculum and test scores to government officials is akin to asking you to submit a menu plan and bloodwork.

                  There are children who die of malnutrition. I am not making that up. Are you saying you are not willing to have officials make sure you are not killing your children because you think you are a competent mother who doesn’t need to be overseen?

                  I am saying that too.

                  By the way, how is submitting paperwork saying my children are doing their spelling words, keeping them safer?

                • Christine C. says:

                  The short answer is, yes. If it helped protect other children, I would do pretty much anything. All children are precious, not just mine.

                  Neglecting to teach a child is just as dangerous as physically harming a child, and sadly, the two often go hand-in-hand. If a child can’t function at a level appropriate for their age and intellectual activity, it can often be a sign of serious abuse.

                  You still haven’t answered my question, though. How would a no-oversight system keep stories like Josh Powell’s from happening?

                • Christine,

                  This statement is preposterous: “Neglecting to teach a child is just as dangerous as physically harming a child.”

                  If we’re dealing with factual information here, physically harming a child could actually KILL him. Not educating him… won’t.

                  Homeschooling doesn’t kill children, Christine. Josh Powell’s parents were depraved and sick. Regulating homeschoolers won’t rid America of depraved and sick people. Watch the news and you will see that there are plenty of sick and abusive people around who are being regulated by the government. How many public school parents abuse or kill their children each year? And they are being “overseen”.

                  I, along with many, many thousands of Americans are not willing to give up our liberties or “do pretty much anything” because there are crazy people who harm children. We are innocent until proven guilty.

                  If you are concerned with curbing childhood deaths, I recommend scrutinizing the abortion industry. There’s a lot of killing going on there.

                  Most of us homeschoolers are doing an outstanding job of educating our children while minding our own businesses. Would that the government could say the same.

          • It’s by going to school that a lot of those cases of neglect are caught in the first place. People who are trained to notice signs of abuse or neglect and required to report suspected cases get to see the same children every day. When you homeschool, there’s no guarantee that such outside observation can happen. You could completely isolate your children and do whatever you liked without much fear of being caught. So a little accountability for homeschooling? Absolutely reasonable. You ask, “how is submitting paperwork saying my children are doing their spelling words, keeping them safer?” And I would say, that if you have no documentation that your children are learning, that’s a red flag that you might be neglecting them in other ways as well. It would warrant further investigation.

            Your argument that because abuse still happens even under observation, there shouldn’t be any at all, is patently absurd. If the system is imperfect (and it definitely is), we should work to make it better, not remove it entirely. You seem to be throwing up your hands and saying, Well there will always be abusers, and since we can’t catch all of them, we shouldn’t try to catch any.

            You ask, ‘How many public school parents abuse or kill their children each year? And they are being “overseen”.’ But a better question is, how many have been caught (that wouldn’t have been caught had they been keeping their children at home with no accountability)? And you don’t know the stats on how many homeschoolers abuse or neglect their children, because how would you know?

            You say you’re unwilling to give up your civil liberties, but I’m not aware of any right to lack of accountability, especially when it come to care of others, especially when those others are particularly vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

            • Smockity Frocks says:

              Well you should become aware that in Texas, we have the right to homeschool our children without being encumbered by government oversight.

              No tests. No curriculum reviews. No submitting any paperwork whatsoever.

              Just the way we like it.

              • I’m aware that Texas legislation does not require any evidence at all that homeschoolers are indeed educating their children. I’m aware that this allows abusive parents to carry on more easily with whatever they want to do without triggering any alarm bells. I’m aware that you’re happy with this arrangement. I am not aware that just because you are not currently required by law to show evidence of educating your children, that you therefore have a right never to have to do so.

      • I do see how your rebuttal is irrational. Why would anyone need to look at the kitchen? You can tell whether a child suffers from malnutrition just by looking at the child. Visible bones, listlessness, etc. all result from poor or improper feeding. Plus, a lot of individuals who deliberately starve their children (usually as punishment for not obeying immediately and “cheerfully” enough) get plenty of healthy food themselves, so looking in the pantry would do NO good whatsoever.

        However, there are individuals who home-school (not anywhere near a majority, but they DO exist) who keep their kids indoors and never let them outside–some even cage their children–so that bruises from beatings, visible bones from starvation, and other clear and obvious indicators of abuse and neglect are never seen by anyone who would have a legal obligation to report them to the proper authorities. This is a problem.

        If a child is going to schools, parks, stores, or other public places, abuse is easier to see and prosecute. Most children, be they homeschooled or educated in public or private schools, are seen by other people in public. If the child is so badly isolated that he or she is never seen by anyone outside of the household, then the abuse may never come to light unless the child dies (the recent Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz cases come to mind). We need to protect those children, because all children have the right to grow up free of abuse.

        Furthermore, as an American citizen, I have a right to be educated (which I was). I have a right to be surrounded by literate, capable people. While most homeschooled children are as well-educated as children in “the system,” and many even learn lots of totally awesome “extras” based on their interests and talents, there are individual cases of educational neglect that cannot be ignored. We all, as American citizens, are accountable to those children. Those children have a right as American citizens to be educated well enough to be independent when they reach adulthood.

        • Smockity Frocks says:

          You are talking about sick, depraved people. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE, and not more concentrated in the homeschool community than in any other community.

          I can link to many, many cases of abuse that goes on right on the property of public schools, or abuse that is done by priests, or abuse that is done by parents of children in elite private schools.

          Maybe you heard about the abduction of 3 little girls in Ohio. They were held prisoners, HIDDEN in chains for 10 years, and the abusers WEREN’T HOMESCHOOLERS. Yet, they weren’t seen by other people. As you say, the were “Never seen by anyone outside of the household.”

          Does this mean we should monitor all men? All hispanic men? Brothers who live together?

        • Correction, there are some sick people that like to abuse their kids that pretend they are homeschooling so they can get away with it.

          Homeschoolers let their kids out of the house, and often. It’s part of a healthy lifestyle.

          And, come on, what about all the abuse that’s going on in public schools with children hurting children to the point of hospitalizations and suicides, teachers hurting children and sometimes having inappropriate relationships with them? Let’s not point fingers that should be pointed at our own selves.

    • When you’re done scrutinizing the abortion industry, Christine, remember those children already within the CPS “system” who wind up abused, molested, neglected, malnourished, and even dead in spite of being, apparently, safe within the arms of the government who is accountable for them. Once again, as with education, the government cannot account for what they already have to take care of those who are already within their responsibility.

      • Christine C. says:

        So, essentially what you and Connie are saying is that we shouldn’t focus on the potential for abuse by homeschooling parents because other children have it so much worse? We should just give up on the children of sickos because there have always been sickos, and we can’t control them? That just makes me feel sick to my stomach.

        Re: the “abortion industry”– I didn’t want to bring abortion into this issue, but I have to say that it’s quite staggering that you’re okay with the state telling pregnant women exactly what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies and those of their unborn children, but resist the idea of the very same state giving parents guidance on how to raise said children. As an aside, I think it’s even more horrific to note that a large number of the children being abused due to lax regulations of homeschooling families are adopted. If I were pregnant and considering my options, that knowledge would certainly give me pause. Better to terminate a pregnancy before the child has a soul (and there is absolutely no Biblical evidence that says when ensoulment occurs. Jewish law around the time of Jesus taught that it occurred either during the second trimester or at birth, and Jesus said nothing to contradict this) than to sentence them to a life of hardship.

        • Preach.

        • I can’t help noting that if my relatives who survived the Great Depression had been killed before they had to endure that hardship (try being one of 5 kids to a single (divorced) mom in the 1930′s) I would be around to reply to your post :-)

          I take your comments as typical of soft Americans fearful of any hardships. Christians have a slightly different perspective, while we too are all to soft and fearful, we are also told in no uncertain terms that life in this world is not expected to be easy and following Christ is the hardest path of all. I see Christians in America really learning this in the coming years.

          It is not just with abortion where the government flaunts it’s disregard for children. Why they just opened up the armed forces so teenage girls can join the boys being killed in combat.

          I don’t believe the commenters are saying not to focus on the potential of abuse of homeschoolers just because other kids have it worse, rather they’re saying don’t ask the fox to guard the hen house just because the rooster is mean.

          • oops – dropped a n’t from the first sentence.

            “I can’t help noting that if my relatives who survived the Great Depression had been killed before they had to endure that hardship (try being one of 5 kids to a single (divorced) mom in the 1930′s) I wouldn’t be around to reply to your post :-)”

          • Seriously? So the “mean rooster” in this scenario is a child abuser? And the government is the fox? Seriously?

            “Christians have a slightly different perspective…” I identify as Christian, and I do not share your perspective. That life contains pain as well as joy, and suffering as well as happiness, is something pretty obvious to everyone. The idea that you should promote pain and suffering, guard it from any attempt to alleviate it? That’s not Christian. Equating child abuse with the hardship that comes with following Christ? Also not Christian.

    • I’d also like to point out that even well-meaning, well-educated parents who are good teachers can forget WHICH things need to be taught when. If nothing else, a basic year-by-year guide would be useful.

      Also, homeschool parents ARE accountable–to their children! When you teach a child (be it your own or someone else’s), you are saying, “I want this child to learn enough about life to be a productive adult, and if I don’t do my utmost to help this child learn, then I have failed them.”

      Everyone is always accountable to someone else, even if the law doesn’t say anything about it. That’s what it means to be your brother’s keeper!

      • And do your children have the power to do anything about it should you be failing them? No. That’s not real accountability.

    • Christine C – I noticed many of the cases (and there weren’t many total) of abuse on the hsinvisiblechildren site involved cases of adoption. You closed out with the plea that if oversight helped avoid another case like these it would be worth it.

      If there were a list of abused adopted children, one of the highlights surely is the case of Frank Lombard The creepy case of Eno Commons, who wantonly abused his adopted children in the middle of a model “oversight” community. If complete privacy prevents another Frank Lombard from feeling comfortable, isn’t it worth it?

  18. Smockity, I feel so honored to have that quote that I totally thumb-typed, while nursing the baby at 3am, make you totally awesome blog. My marbles may be scattered under the dusty furniture, but I haven’t lost them entirely….Score!!
    Good comments all. Very interesting to chase this down, and I think it’s so important that we exercise logical thinking and reason on such topics because it’s part of “always having an answer”. I wanted to add this: I was homeschooled until leaving for college, and never did one. moment. of “test prep” outside of simply doing my schoolwork. This includes AP exams for which I never took an AP class, and the GRE *after* four years of college while applying to grad school. I will say by the grace of God, and my mom’s diligence as my only teacher for eighteen years, I scored high enough to earn all the credibility and scholarship money I needed. I’m now excited to be a second-generation homeschooler, as my 4yo son has begun his studies this summer, and I love being able to talk to other homeschooling mothers who are at a place of “we’ll try it for now, but I don’t know about high school, etc…” and tell them: go ahead. It can be, and has been, done successfully! Furthermore, during/after graduate school I was on the staff of my alma mater and had the opportunity to really see “how the sausage is made” as far as college entrances. This was fascinating, since my entire education was watched by concerned relatives (and even my own parents I think!) concerned that I’d be in deep trouble when it came time to apply for, or pay for, or succeed in college. I observed that, while college entrance is very competitive, homeschoolers are far from disadvantaged–in fact, if anything, it is the public school students who will suffer as their lackluster, dime-a-dozen applications and banal application essays offer no distinction from those in the feet-deep pile with them. A tenth or hundredth of a percentile point in your graduating class of 400+ means little to a group of people who have spent their lives in the education machine. Likewise, sending your child to “the really good public school that’s an XZY magnet in our city” is of little relevance (though it may make you feel better at the time). Take the SAT/ACT/PSAT, CLEP tests, AP tests, annual achievement tests, etc. But remember that the public school system has no proprietary hold on these tests AND, as a tax-payer you are entitled to certain testing services as needed.

  19. Amen, amen, amen!

  20. For the record, the plural of “curriculum” is “curricula”.

  21. Here is what I think would be a good level of regulation:

    1. Parents tell the state that they intend to homeschool. I honestly don’t think this is a hardship for anyone. After all, the state knows which students go to which schools already, and has since public schools have existed. None of us have suffered from this extremely low level of government oversight. (Seriously, having to tell the IRS how much money you make every year is FAR more intrusive than just “I send my kids to private schools” or “I teach my children at home.” Yet we all pay our income taxes every year.)

    2. All parents are informed of, and given free access to, a list of sample curricula and lesson plans that they can adapt as desired. This will help parents who may forget that a certain topic was supposed to be covered, and aid parents who aren’t quite sure how to help a child understand the concepts of fractions, checks and balances in government, or direct objects. There will also be contact info given for volunteers with teaching certificates to work one-on-one with the child as tutors, if the parent has a weakness in one or more subjects. While informing parents of these resources will be mandatory, the use of any or all of them will be optional: they will be intended solely as a guide, so that parents know what their child should learn over the course of their schooling.

    3. At the end of “elementary” “junior high” and “high school” levels, a single standardized test is given, for the sole purpose of proving that the child has a basic grounding in grammar, reading comprehension, math, the scientific method, and history. If the child is 1-2 grades “behind schedule”–no penalty. Kids learn and mature at different rates. But if a child is SEVERELY off-standard: say, 13 and functionally illiterate, remedial measures should be taken, as only a child with severe learning disabilities should ever be able to reach that age without being able to read simple sentences or do basic arithmetic operations. I include this safeguard only because there are documented cases of “homeschooled” children who were actually not educated at all, and reached the age of 18 with as little knowledge as they had at age 5.

    4. If any test administrators see any clear signs that the child is being abused or neglected (bruises, malnutrition, listlessness, fear of all adults*, clear signs of emotional trauma), their suspicions should be reported to CPS so that an investigation can be conducted. I do not, and never shall, believe that a parent’s rights include the right to any form of child abuse. The right of a child to not be abused ALWAYS supersedes the parent’s rights to run their households as they see fit.

    * I want to be very clear here. All children should respect adults: they should be considerate of adults’ feelings and desires, and should be willing to obey, if grudgingly, any commands that aren’t clearly immoral. (I don’t think any child should obey something like “Go steal me that diamond necklace” or “Take your clothes off and let me touch your private parts.” But a child should definitely obey “Clean your room” or “Don’t run out into the street!” even if he/she doesn’t want to.) However, if a child shows strong anxiety just from being around an adult, or is clearly terrified when adults address or speak to them, that is NOT the same thing as respect and is generally a sign that the parent-child relationship is seriously warped.

  22. By the way, here is a reminder of what a small minority of homeschool parents actually do: http://hsinvisiblechildren.org/

    I am fully aware that MOST homeschool parents are well-meaning, and genuinely want their children to have the best upbringing possible. However, just as we safeguard items for sale in stores (even though MOST people will never steal a thing in their lives), we should also safeguard children.

    These stories will, and should, make you sick to your stomach. Many of these children were beaten with objects, systematically starved, locked inside bathrooms, or otherwise severely abused. Some of them died because of it. Most damningly, because so much money has been cut from CPS, they were unable to do anything about a lot of the abuse cases listed because they had to trim down their caselogs.

  23. This is a great post. I agree.

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  1. [...] Connie, a homeschool mom with eight children, recently wrote a post on why she opposes regulation of homeschooling. (She says it’s because she doesn’t trust the government.) In that post she approvingly [...]

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