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More regulation for homeschooling?

January 27, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
Should homeschooling be better regulated?

That's a question I've been wondering about for the past few years, every time I read the occasional story about homeschooling gone horribly wrong. The story that has probably gotten the most attention is the case of Hana Williams, an Ethiopian adoptee who was homeschooled by her adoptive parents and also beaten, malnourished and left to die of exposure in Washington state in May 2011. The parents were convicted of her murder and sentenced to prison.

Homeschoolers are quick to say that these cases are rare and there are also reports of child abuse by families who send their children to public school. That is certainly true and I have met many parents who do a wonderful job of homeschooling their children. I suppose the difference is that while children who attend public schools can also be abused, the abuse is likely discovered sooner because teachers, principals and other parents are more likely to see signs of abuse and report it to the authorities.

The most successful homeschooling parents make sure that their children have many opportunities to participate in lessons and activities in the community and learn from a challenging curriculum, sometimes more challenging than is offered by the public schools. But there is also the occasional case of a family that takes advantage of lax regulations to pull a child from public school mainly to hide abusive conduct. Sometimes that can result in a case like Hana's or like some of the horrible stories that can be found at the site Homeschoolers Anonymous.wordpress.com This site is filled with sad stories of abuse and educational neglect suffered by the now adult children of homeschooling families.

States differ widely regarding regulation of homeschooling. In Texas, for instance, there is little to no regulation. Parents do not have to announce their intention to home school to the school district or register their children with a district, no particular certification is required and there is no curriculum approval required. Until fairly recently, North Dakota was considered one of the stricter states regarding homeschooling, but the Legislature eased many of the requirements during the last session. Parents who have a high school diploma or GED can now homeschool their children without supervision by a monitor, for instance, though parents without a high school diploma still must be under supervision for at least the first two years by a licensed teacher. Children who are homeschooled must take a standardized test in grades four, six, eight and 10, but their parents can now opt out of the testing requirement for philosophical or religious reasons if the parent holds a four year college degree, is a teacher or has passed a teaching exam. Unlike some other states, North Dakota law does require that homeschooling parents teach certain subjects, teach for a certain number of hours per day and a certain number of days per year, and that they notify their school districts of their intent to home school and offer proof of the child's identity and the parent's qualifications to teach as well an address. One Texas parent recently told me that she would find North Dakota's restrictions on homeschooling unreasonable.

What regulations, if any, do you think are reasonable?

 
 

Article Comments

(60)

AndreaJohnson

Jan-31-14 2:30 PM

The state made some adjustments in the way schools are funded a few years ago, so there were some changes. But schools only receive funding for kids who are students. Homeschoolers who required a monitor were monitored by a district teacher, so it counted as half enrollment. Those are only a tiny percentage of homeschoolers since most parents were able to teach without monitoring. It only was required for the first two years if the parents did require a monitor.

locomotive

Jan-31-14 1:38 PM

Well, half the money is still money. I haven't heard much about new funding formula either.

AndreaJohnson

Jan-31-14 8:16 AM

School districts don't receive per pupil aid for homeschoolers who don't attend the school. They used to get half a payment per student if a monitor was required. I don't know if the new funding formula changed things. If they're property owners, they do pay school taxes like everyone else.

locomotive

Jan-30-14 4:58 PM

I'm talking ND now: if a homeschooling family has submitted information to the school district census taker (how many kids, what ages), the school district will get money for those homeschooling students. Plus, homeschool families have to pay their property taxes, of which the school district gets a portion.

Don't worry, the public school's finances are not disturbed by homeschoolers taking their kids out of the system.

landslide2014

Jan-30-14 3:00 PM

The longer we can keep Federal Government out of the homeschool the better off we will be but it won't be long until they want to tax those folks for not using the Government systems and creating Government employees..

AndreaJohnson

Jan-30-14 11:16 AM

== continued ==

Different states have different guidelines for homeschoolers. There are a handful of states where students submit lesson plans and curriculum a few times a year and present portfolios of the child's work throughout the year to the school superintendent. There are states like North Dakota that require testing at certain grade levels. Then there are states where there is no regulation at all. One suggestion I saw is that parents might be required to bring the children with them to register their homeschool, so the school office sees the kids. Another suggestion would call for a heightened level of scrutiny if an abuse complaint had ever been made against a homeschooling family. That sounds reasonable to me.

AndreaJohnson

Jan-30-14 11:12 AM

How do you know? I don't have any reason to believe abuse is any more prevalent in a homeschooling family than anywhere else, but there aren't any statistics. There are a handful of horror stories about abuse, neglect and, in rare cases, murder of homeschooled kids whose parents withdrew them from school when teachers called CPS to report possible abuse. Homeschooling does make it harder for any abuse that exists to be detected. If kids aren't required to take standardized tests and their parents aren't required to submit a portfolio or some other evidence of work done, there also isn't any real way to tell if kids are actually being educated.

I suppose the question is whether kids actually have a right to a certain standard of education and whether the government has an interest in seeing that they get it. I don't think anyone should outlaw homeschooling or that the government should visit someone's home without cause, but I do think a certain amount of regulation is a good idea.

MattRothchild

Jan-30-14 10:24 AM

Just keep in mind, boys and girls, that "education" and "schooling" are not the same thing.

landslide2014

Jan-30-14 10:22 AM

Stories and State Laws???

Lets see facts and figures.. Not stories and state laws..

Sincew hwen has it become the headlines that parents are abusing their kids and we must now have the Government take control of the household..

The liberals and their inability to think and act as adults has become more forefront since our President has decided to become the Father and God to America..

What you are saying in short Andrea is everyone should be FORCED to send their kids to a public school so teachers can check to see if they see signs of abuse!!!!

I see our Schools becoming medical institutions, Sports facilities, and very little education at all except sex education.

Its no wonder people are removing their children from that enviroment and trying to give them a normal wholesome life.

landslide2014

Jan-30-14 10:17 AM

Andrea Homeschool abuse is no more prevelent then public school abuse.

Your theroy does not hold water. What YOU are asking for is the Government to step into our homes and check how we treat our children.. How many teachers, preists, ministers,scout leaders and other forms of folks we are suppose to trust have come into the picture?

Further more who protects the UNBORN? Who protects the birth to 5 year olds in homes.. Abuse would and could start way before school age..

Its just another "complaint" from the Government run schools not wanting to give up the funding they lose if a parent decides to home school or send their kids to private schools.

All it is is a money grab by the Government agencies.. They throw out this crap with no facts or data to back it..

AndreaJohnson

Jan-30-14 9:14 AM

Again, the concern is with people who do NOT educate their kids or abuse them and use homeschooling as a way to avoid scrutiny. There are some of them out there, judging by the stories, and some state laws make it easier for their parents. I don't think there's any real way to say what "most" homeschoolers do. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence but it is so unregulated that there aren't stats about numbers being homeschooled or test scores or curriculum or who has a computer. There are many, many people who do a great job of homeschooling, but also some horror stories.

landslide2014

Jan-30-14 8:29 AM

People condemming homeschool and blue collor yet none of them have ever tried it.

Blue collar workers hit the workforce at 18. College students hit the collage and the debt at 18. 4 years later the blue collar worker has 4 years experience and has managed a few raises in pay..hes probably enrolled in a retirment system and has 4 years invested.. College student enters the market at age 23.. Has $70,000 student loans, is the lowest guy on the roster and has not put a penny in his retirement.

How many YEARS will it take for college kid to pay off his debt..catch up his retirement account to those of the blue collar worker? At what point will the scale sway and make them even? How many years?

The idea that starting out $70,000 in the hole is a good thing is totally wrong..

landslide2014

Jan-30-14 8:22 AM

All the farm kids I grew up with and my parents and their parents all seem to decide what to grow and how much by what the other guy was getting into.

The prices on the market were the drivers.. Dad "listened" to market reports on the radio every day at lunch time. It took me until adulthood to figure out why he always tuned in on that channel when he came in for lunch. So I guess if the radio is technology in your books then yes they used technology.. A trip to the grain elevator brought him the same information.

Andrea my nephew graduated 25 years ago. Way ahead of the technology age. Why do you think math is such an important subject? Math is the key to finances..being able to read and do math will get you a long long way in America.

And Andrea MOST homeschooled kids have access to a computer. I have 3 grandkids being homeschooled at this time.. Everyone of them tests as high if not higher then their public school cousins.. Again we have so many people condemming so

AndreaJohnson

Jan-30-14 8:06 AM

No, I wouldn't say every job requires a college degree, but high school and technical schools do teach STEM. Good homeschoolers find a way for kids to learn science, math and technology too.

EarlyBird

Jan-30-14 7:40 AM

Some oil jobs do require training but I haven't seen one that requires a college degree. The same with farm technology, when a farmer buys new technology the salesmen gets them started and when the farmer runs into trouble they call the salesman. I know young men who have made millions in farming and ranching and have no college time at all. They watch the markets to decide what to plant. The work is hard, hours are long and the wages are low is why most people don't do it.

AndreaJohnson

Jan-29-14 11:34 PM

My iPad and auto correct are going haywire. I don't doubt that there's still a lot of learning by doing and physical work involved in farming and the oil fields, but I also know that that isn't all there is to it these days.

AndreaJohnson

Jan-29-14 11:29 PM

How do farmers market a business in the current economy, decided what to grow and how to get the best yield? That takes a certain amount of training. High school vo tech classes are teaching kids skills using equipment they'll use in a workplace and that homeschoolers don't necessarily gave access to. I would assume your nephew benefited from some of those classes. Junior colleges offer some of the same classes, but kids usually have a head start if they took those classes in high school. North Dakota is lucky to have so many well paying blue collar jobs but that also is not the case right now on many states. I would suggest you check out your local high school's vo ag department.

landslide2014

Jan-29-14 9:17 PM

Andrea go take a look at the classes Williston is teaching.. Some of it is in depth on all of the systems but the one that these guys take is the safety classes.. to introduce them to the safety practices when working the rigs..

Nothing to do with technology..

landslide2014

Jan-29-14 8:25 PM

Oh my Gosh Andrea.. My newphew owns and operates a fleet of trucks in the oil field.. He graduate from a local highschool.. Thats it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hes making Big Bucks..I mean BIG BUCKS!!!! Now he doesnt need anything but his cell phone.

You REALLY need to get out in the real world Andrea.. .

You need to get out of the office and do some research.. Your WAY behind on the real world..

Take a trip out to the farmer and ask for a day of milking cows, cleaning gutters, mowing fields and baleing.. then loading hay bales and stacking them in the barn

Your so far remeoved from the real world your starting to so8und like some of these liberals..

To go easy on your self get on the telephone and call a couple local farmers.. Ask them how much "technology" they use each day.. And by Technology I am assuming something more then a cell phone....

AndreaJohnson

Jan-29-14 5:28 PM

You'd be wrong about that. Oil field jobs do require some technical knowledge. So does truck driving and farming these days. Williston State has various programs that educate people who want to work in the oil industry.

landslide2014

Jan-29-14 4:24 PM

I just bet those guys in the oil fields making 6 figure incomes don't know alot about technology or even care about it.

The "now" people seem to think everything is about being able to enter numbers or words on a screen and the screen does the thinking for them..

In all actuality I suspect the kids with the tech brains if put ina room with a person who went to school in the 50s and all their "resources" "screens" taken away from them would come NO WHERE near being able to answer and solve problems and questions as the 50s educated people.

In the 50s we used our brains.. Kids now days need a calculator or a computer or a phone to find the answers..

Some day in the future the grid will crash and all will get to see how really smart they are..

landslide2014

Jan-29-14 2:12 PM

So all you farmers out there better shut off the combines and tractors and turn in.. You are not smart enough to produce the food crops for our society.

You lost out when computers came in..

And auto machanics?? they have the "smart" crowd by the gonads.. You will pay because they do have the knowledge and you don't and it didnt come from any machine..It came for grease and hard work and repeat situations..

EarlyBird

Jan-29-14 10:48 AM

I'm so far behind the leader passed me and I'm in second again. lol

AndreaJohnson

Jan-29-14 8:56 AM

Adults who haven't kept up with technological advances also run the risk of falling behind at work.

EarlyBird

Jan-29-14 6:54 AM

Learning is just as natural as being born for children. If people were born without being inclined to discover and learn I doubt the human race would exist. I don't think anybody makes people learn but we can put the information in front of them that they need to learn in order to function as an adult. Although there seems to be a great difference in how teachers approach the students that can affect learning.

 
 

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