HSLDA and the Deregulation of Homeschooling

In this series examining the actions of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), we’ve discussed HSLDA’s efforts to minimize child abuse reporting, stonewall child abuse investigations, and keep excessive corporal punishment legal. In this post we’re going to change gears and look at HSLDA’s efforts against homeschool regulations, efforts that, in effect, remove compulsory education and legalize educational neglect.

Let me put it like this: HSLDA is against any oversight of homeschooling whatsoever. Without regulation of homeschooling—including even registration with the state education authorities—there is nothing to ensure that parents who remove their children from the public schools (or never send them to begin with) are actually educating their children. But from HSLDA’s perspective, that reality is unimportant. Here is HSLDA’s Christopher Klicka in 2008, explaining the organization’s position:

Mr. Klicka added that the only regulation he found “reasonable” was that families notify authorities of their plans to home school. Other requirements, including record-keeping on childrens’ progress and either standardized testing or year-end portfolios to demonstrate competence, all required in New York State, were currently being challenged in eight active court cases nationally.

In other words, the only regulation HSLDA’s Christopher Klicka—and the organization itself, as we will see—views as acceptable is requiring homeschooled students to give their local schools notice of their intent to homeschool when removing their children.

HSLDA’s basic line is that it is the parents’ responsibility and right to direct the education of their offspring, and that they should therefore not be interfered with. HSLDA does not appear to believe that children have any sort of right to be educated, because the organization opposes any way of ensuring that homeschooling families actually educate their children. In HSLDA’s perfect world, parents would not be required to ensure that their children receive an education—instead, it would be up to their own discretion.

The problem here is very similar to HSLDA’s problem when it comes to child abuse. Both educational neglect and child abuse do take place in HSLDA member families, and they also take place in families that merely use homeschooling as an excuse to educationally neglect and physically abuse their children. (And yes, this does happen.) But the organization appears to be both oblivious to the fact that any of its member families might be guilty of educational neglect or child abuse (because they’re good Christian families!) and not at all bothered by the fact that homeschooling is being used as a tool to enable other families to abuse or neglect their children. If all homeschooling families were like the one I grew up in—if all homeschool parents put the same emphasis and importance on academics that my parents did—HSLDA’s absolutist deregulation stance could perhaps be defended (though not necessarily by me). But not every family is like mine.

Homeschool regulations very drastically from state to state. Ten U.S. states don’t even require that parents register their homeschools with the state education authority, let alone any testing, curriculum, or portfolio requirements. In these states, compulsory education has in practice been repealed. Other states, though, do have oversight of homeschooling. Pennsylvania, for example, has the highest level of regulation of homeschooling, requiring parents to turn in curricular plans at the beginning of the school year (for approval) and submit portfolios of students’ work and written reports of their progress composed by certified teachers at the end of each school year f0r evaluation, along with standardized test scores every third year. This high level of regulation, however, is a bit of an abnormality.

In order to explore HSLDA’s stance on homeschooling regulations, as well as its lobbying power, I am going to use Texas as a case study. Texas is probably the most unregulated state in the country when it comes to homeschooling, and HSLDA has worked hard over the years to keep it this way. As I look over this history, I will quote from HSLDA’s e-alerts, messages it sends out to its member families, often with requests for lobbying action.

A Texas Tale

In Texas, homeschools are counted as individual private schools—and there are no regulations on private schools in Texas. None. While private schools—and thus homeschools—are technically required to teach “reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship,” there is nothing checking up on them to ensure that they do this, no mechanism to catch ones that aren’t, no evaluation requirements, no curriculum requirements, and even no registration requirement. There is, then, absolutely no oversight whatsoever of homeschooling in Texas.

Homeschools didn’t always count as private schools—that particular quirk of Texas law was the result of a 1994 Texas Supreme Court decision: LeeperThe question before the court was whether the private school exemption to the compulsory education law included homeschooled children. Let me quote from the decision’s introduction:

The dispute in this class action centers on whether the private school exemption includes children who are taught at home, in a bona fide manner, a curriculum designed to meet certain basic education goals, including a study of good citizenship.

The court concluded in its decision, then, that the private school exemption did indeed apply to homeschooled children—or at least to homeschooled children who were “taught at home, in a bona fide manner, a curriculum designed to meet certain basic education goals.” There is nothing in the Leeper decision that bars the state educational commission from creating oversight of homeschooling—and in fact, the decision explicitly states that.

Specifically, the TEA [Texas Education Agency] is not precluded from requesting evidence of achievement test results in determining whether children are being taught in a bona fide manner.

Technically, this decision required that those who were given an exemption from the state’s compulsory education law to be educated at home be taught “in a bona fide manner” using “a curriculum designed to meet certain basic educational goals.” However, the Texas legislature never passed laws providing oversight of homeschooling after the decision was handed down, leaving homeschools to be overseen in the same way that private schools are—which means not at all. As a result, these nominal requirements have never been worth more than the paper it’s written on.

Truancy and Registration, 2003

This lack of oversight of homeschooling has created a bit of a problem for Texas over the years. Namely, how are educational officials to know who is homeschooled and who is, well, just a dropout? From the perspective of local superintendents, the two look very much the same: children who have stopped attending school. How is a local school district to deal with truancy when it isn’t sure who is truant and who was homeschooled? In 2003, a state senator attempted to fix this problem with a bill requiring homeschoolers to register with the state’s commissioner of education. HSLDA responded with an e-alert to its members:

February 28, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

A bill has been introduced in the Texas Legislature that will require all homeschoolers to be registered with the state commissioner of education. HSLDA is completely opposed to any registration or controls on homeschoolers in Texas.

Senator Barrientos introduced the bill, S.B. 586, on February 24. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Education.

We need your calls to Senator Barrientos to urge him to withdraw his bill. There can be no compromise.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please call Senator Barrientos and give him this message:

“Thank you for your concern for public school dropouts. However, registering law-abiding homeschoolers is not the solution. More serious enforcement of the existing truancy laws is all that is necessary. We ask you to withdraw S.B. 586 and keep homeschooling free.”

Senator Barrientos capitol number is 512-463-0114. His fax is 512-463-5949. His e-mail is gonzalo.barrientos@senate.state.tx.us.

Be polite, yet firm that there is no room for compromise.

In this e-alert, HSLDA makes it clear that it opposes any oversight of homeschooling, even something as simple requiring homeschoolers to register with the state educational authority. But what really struck me is that whoever wrote up this e-alert comes across as completely missing the point—the bill requiring homeschoolers to register was proposed so that local school districts could enforce the existing truancy laws, so simply suggesting that these laws need more enforcing makes no sense. Further, asking that homeschoolers register—merely put their names on a list—posed no threat whatsoever to parents’ freedom to homeschool, regardless of what HSLDA implies in this alert.

There’s a little bit left to the e-alert, though, so let me add that:

BACKGROUND

I contacted Senator Barrientos’ office and talked to his aide in charge of the S.B. 586. She explained that their intent is only to help solve the school drop-out problem. They simply “want to protect the sanctity of homeschoolers.”

When informed that that we wanted the immediate withdrawal of the bill, she asked if we would “compromise.”

I explained the history of home schooling Texas and that there was no room for compromise. Homeschoolers are content with the present legal climate and enjoy the freedom they have fought so hard to obtain.

A second call was placed to determine if they would withdraw. The aide said she would recommend that they not withdraw the bill. Officially their position is that they will not withdraw the bill at this time.

We informed her that we inform our membership.

Let Senator Barrientos know homeschoolers want him to withdraw his bill.

Thanks for standing with us for freedom!

Sincerely,

Chris Klicka

HSLDA Senior Counsel

This is how HSLDA operates. No compromise. We will inform our membership. We are standing for freedom. No compromise.

This “we want to protect the sanctity of homeschoolers” bit—which HSLDA quoted the state senator’s aide as saying—is interesting, because I think there is a strong case to be made there. Do homeschoolers really want homeschooling to serve as a shelter for abuse or as a cover for a school dropout problem? Senator Barrientos clearly hoped that requiring homeschoolers to register would ensure that legitimate homeschoolers would be protected while dropouts could more easily be taken to task for their truancy. But HSLDA would have none of that—and no compromise.

Just over a week later, on March 6th, HSLDA sent out another e-alert:

March 6, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Thank you for your time and effort spent protecting homeschool freedom! Many of you have responded to our elert of Feb. 28 notifying you of  Senate Bill 586. This bill would require all homeschoolers to be registered with the state commissioner of education and would open the door for further regulations.

The bill states: “A home-schooled child is exempt under Subsection (a)(1) only if the child’s parent or guardian provides to the commissioner written acknowledgment on a form adopted by the commissioner that the parent or guardian accepts complete responsibility for adequately teaching the child based on a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals.”

Texas homeschoolers enjoy the greatest liberty to homeschool of virtually all the states. Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (the sponsor of S.B. 586) is offering to amend the bill, but no amendment would be satisfactory since it would involve some limit on the freedom of homeschoolers. Unlike many other states, homeschoolers in Texas have the clear blessing and protection of a landmark Texas Supreme Court case. There is no need to compromise.

HSLDA’s Texas Legislative Counsel Tom Sanders visited Senator Barrientos’ office and he learned that the senator has received over 1,000 calls and 1,000 emails from homeschoolers expressing their opposition to the bill. We encourage you to continue to contact Senator Barrientos.

While no action has been taken on the bill so far, we want to make sure to send the message that Texas homeschoolers are opposed to any change in the law.

For Christ and liberty,

Chris Klicka

HSLDA Senior Counsel

This e-alert notes that the registration form homeschoolers would have to fill out would include a commitment that “the parent or guardian accepts complete responsibility for adequately teaching the child based on a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals.” One would think that’s the sort of commitment HSLDA would support, as it places no stipulations and creates no enforcement mechanism, but merely states that the responsibility for educating the child now lays with the parent, and that the parent is willing to take on that responsibility. But no. No amendment. No compromise. Nothing that will place any limit whatsoever on the “freedom of homeschoolers.”

It’s also worth noting that the Leeper decision already stated that homeschool parents must do those things, essentially word for word. So why was HSLDA so worried about having homeschool parents sign a piece of paper saying that they would do so? HSLDA expounded on its opposition as follows:

HSLDA opposes the bill as it requires parents to send written confirmation to the commissioner that the parent will “adequately teach the child based on curriculum designed to meet basic education goals.” This opens the door for further regulation to determine what is adequate instruction and who determines adequacy. It would require additional legislation to determine the “basic education goals” for homeschoolers.

This is a pattern I’ve noticed—HSLDA inevitably interprets any law that effects homeschooling in any way as a potential Trojan Horse, opening the floodgates that will (somehow) result in a de facto ban on homeschooling. Still, in this case it makes especially little sense, because Leeper itself, which HSLDA cites here as its freedom charter for Texas homeschoolers, already opened the door to regulation when it used words like “in a bona fide manner” and “curriculum designed to meet certain basic education goals,” wording almost identical to that that this bill would require homeschool parents to affirm. But then, if the HSLDA didn’t react in this way to every little law, it wouldn’t have material to frighten homeschoolers into buying their legal insurance.

Several months after this update, HSLDA offered its members a final update:

June 10, 2003

Dear Texas Members and Friends,

Thank you for all of your hard work this legislative season! Because of your calls, letters, and email, we have been able to accomplish several major victories for homeschoolers in Texas. Tom Sanders, HSLDA’s Legislative Counsel, was in Austin nearly every week during the legislative session, lobbying on your behalf to make these
successes a reality.

Homeschoolers killed S.B. 586, the homeschool registration bill. Our consistent message was “no compromise,” and the sponsor got that message from your calls (over a thousand as estimated by a staffer).

Those thousands of phone calls and thousands of emails? This is how HSLDA gets its work done. And time and again, time and time and again, HSLDA succeeds. In fact, it succeeds in getting its way on essentially every homeschool bill it touches.

Truancy and Notification, 2010-2011

Texas schools’ problems with confusing homeschooling and truancy continued for the remainder of the decade, until someone finally blew the whistle in 2010. As reported in the Chronicle:

In an attempt to ensure that public school districts aren’t disguising high school dropouts, the Texas Education Agency is conducting an audit of students who withdrew under the auspice of home schooling.

TEA officials wouldn’t reveal details of the audit — other than to say that the state is contacting a random sampling of families to validate that they intended to home-school when they left middle or high school.

More than 22,620 Texas secondary students were listed as withdrawing to home-school in 2008 — raising a red flag among some experts and educators who worry that Texas’ lax regulations are encouraging abuse in the hands-off home-schooling category. The 2008 figures reflect a 24 percent jump from the prior year and roughly triple the number of high school home-schooling withdrawals from a decade ago.

“They looked at the numbers and data a little more closely and decided to go a little more in-depth,” TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said.

If parents who withdrew their children to homeschool were required to register with the state, we wouldn’t have a problem with public schools recording dropouts as students leaving to homeschool in an effort to cook their books, and if there were at least some educational oversight we wouldn’t have a problem with dropouts claiming they’re homeschooling in an effort to avoid truancy laws. But don’t bother mentioning any of that to HSLDA!

Here is an update on the situation a year later in the Chronicle:

A new documentation requirement will make it harder for students to leave the public school system under the guise of home schooling, closing a loophole in Texas’ dropout statistics.

Starting this school year, a parent must submit a signed statement saying that a withdrawing student intends to study at home, regardless of the child’s age. Documentation requirements also are being stiffened for students who say they’re leaving to enroll in a private school in Texas or a school outside Texas. In either of these circumstances, a student is not counted as a dropout.

This change in policy took place without need for a law—it was a change in the school system’s paperwork. In fact, this change didn’t actually require homeschoolers to notify school districts of their intent to homeschool when withdrawing their children—something that still isn’t required in Texas even today. Instead, the change meant that if the schools wanted to list a student as having left to be homeschooled in official school documents counting the number and flow of children, the administration would have to get a signed statement of intent to homeschool. And if the parent didn’t want to give that—and they didn’t have to—the administration would be out of luck.

HSLDA sent an e-alert to its members in response to this change:

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Education Agency has now implemented its new policy to combat public school attendance fraud by requiring public schools to more fully document whether a withdrawing student intends to homeschool.

Last year, HSLDA alerted Texas homeschoolers that the TEA conducted an audit of public schools and found that some schools in Texas had been classifying dropouts as homeschoolers in order to keep drop-out numbers low. To combat this problem, the TEA is now requiring that when a student is withdrawing from public school, the school must have a signed statement from the parent saying that the student intends to study at home before it can classify them as “withdrawing to homeschool.”

Texas law does not require parents who choose to teach their children at home to file any sort of notice of intent. Thus, the TEA cannot mandate parents to file any such form. However, HSLDA always recommends that parents who withdraw their children from public school inform the school of their intention, lest the sudden absence of the child create grounds for concern. Members can find a sample withdrawal letter on the members-only section of our website. This letter should serve as the parent’s signed statement required by the TEA’s new policy.

Should you encounter any school district that tries to force  homeschooling parents to sign any statements regarding the enrollment  of their children, please contact HSLDA immediately for assistance.

Sincerely,

Darren Jones, Esq.

HSLDA Staff Attorney

It is absolutely true that HSLDA encourages new homeschoolers to notify their intent to homeschool when removing  their children from a public school (notify, not register) and it appears from the quote with which I began this post that HSLDA would be okay with requiring parents to give this notification. But that’s it. Nothing more than bare, basic notification.

Conclusion

HSLDA is opposed to any oversight of homeschooling whatsoever, and if you read the organization’s literature, it’s as though they don’t realize the practical results of their deregulation efforts. In a state like Texas, a parent may remove her children from the public school and, whether or not she notifies the school district of her decision to homeschool, keep her children at home and teach them absolutely nothing. After all, how is anyone to know? How is anyone to ensure that education is taking place?

In effect, it appears that HSLDA’s goal is to—in practice if not in name—make compulsory education a thing of the past, allowing parents to opt their children out of formal schooling for any reason and without any requirement that they actually educate their children. I understand where they are coming from—they believe in the supremacy of parents’ rights and parents’ total control over their children’s upbringing—I just strongly disagree with it. Their policies also, in effect, legalizes educational neglect. And indeed, in an article on compulsory education laws HSLDA stops short of openly coming out against them but nevertheless takes a very critical view of their very existence.

And again, this isn’t hypothetical—it effects real people and real lives. In 2011, Stephen L. Endress conducted a survey of public school administrators in Iowa and Illinois as part of his dissertation project. While his response rate was low, he found that his several hundred respondents reported that they believed that, on average, 25% of those who left their schools stating intent to homeschool were actually doing so specifically to avoid truancy laws. And when homeschooling regulations are low or nonexistent, there’s nothing to stop people from doing that. This, quite simply, is the result of HSLDA’s advocacy.

And yes, I would definitely say policies HSLDA’s policies and the state of deregulation it has contributed to damages “the sanctity of homeschooling.”

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Nea

    Thhey’re like the NRA, aren’t they? Whipping up hysterical fear over the slightest regulation or oversight because they’re convinced it’s the first step to them losing their privilege and to hell with anyone else who’s endangered.

    • swimr1

      Exactly!

    • indigojane

      That was exactly my thought as I read this.

  • Corinna

    “HSLDA’s basic line is that it is the parents’ responsibility and right to direct the education of their offspring”

    In other words: “I’ll do with my property as I see fit.”
    Ugh.

  • http://valuesfromscratch.blogspot.com Marian

    You know, the senator probably killed the bill because he heard a thousand phone messages against it, and few or no messages for it. But people who would have supported it probably knew nothing about it, because it was a fairly small bill with not a lot of hoopla.

    All that to say, as much as I would hate to put money in their coffers, perhaps you, or other bloggers with far reaching influence, should subscribe to HSLDA (does it cost a lot to be a member? I bet some of your readers would pitch in) so that you can get these emails in real time, pass the messages along to your bloggers, and then those who live in the appropriate state can flood the senator with counter messages in approval of the bill. We could fight HSLDA with their own bad medicine.

    • jemand

      Yup. I’d be definitely willing to call or email legislators, but I don’t think I could handle reading straight from the HSLDA source, it would piss me off too much.

  • Karen

    Gonzalo Barrientos was my state senator at that time. This bill got lots of support from Austin – his district — but lots of flak from the rest of the state. (Beating up on The Austin Hippies is a proud tradition for both parties in Texas.).

    The worst thing about Texas’ idiotic treatment of homeschooling is that it really harms the public schools. Public schools are funded based on enrollment AND attendance. Schools get punished for having high dropout numbers. HSLDA is taking my kids’ education away so they can sell crap legal insurance policies.

    • indigojane

      That’s their goal. They WANT to destroy public education.

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        I recall an educational platform put out by some group–can’t remember which one, now, but I think it was out of Texas–which wanted to eliminate ‘critical thinking’ because it was “undermining parental authority”.

        Oh, here it is. I was hoping I was wrong in thinking it had been a GOP platform. There’s a few other troubling things in there, but the bit about critical thinking is the one that most obviously takes a ‘parents know best’ approach.

  • smrnda

    These bills don’t even regulate homeschooling; they just ask that parents who are homeschooling notify schools so that schools can distinguish between homeschooled kids and drop outs an truants. I think the real goal is just a war on public schools and anything they do, even if it’s sensible and socially beneficial or even if it’s just for record-keeping purposes.

    I think a big part of this is the view of The Family as some sacred, god-ordained, inherently good and noble institution which should never be subjected to any outside authority whatsoever. Part of this is religious, but I think another part might be cultural. I was reading about how different immigrant groups to the US brought different traditions, and was reading how the Ulster Scots (usually called Scots-Irish in the US) had a cultural tendency to want to own guns, an intense dislike of any and all formal government and a belief in fierce family loyalty, at least at the time when immigration occurred to the US. Reading that, I almost felt like I had finally found where the ‘guns, family and god’ culture comes from here.

    • http://LyricalPolyphony.blogspot.com meg

      You laugh……. Um…… There are some fundamentalist groups which actually have unedited scottish war songs among their hymnody. :) the songs themselves can be quite nice, but yes, there is a definite fascination among some subsets of evangelical homeschool culture with scottish tradition.

      • smrnda

        I don’t laugh, since ‘guns’ are part of the fascination. I feel kind of bad for contemporary Scots though, since it seems like they’ve moved into the present with the rest of the world, and I don’t think they’d like the culture of their past appropriated in this fashion.

    • BringTheNoise

      I feel kind of bad for contemporary Scots though, since it seems like they’ve moved into the present with the rest of the world, and I don’t think they’d like the culture of their past appropriated in this fashion.

      As a contemporary Scot, I can confirm that this is the overwhelming view here.

  • Christine

    I’m still confused as to why directing your child’s education means that you have to be their only teacher. Especially if the school is stinting on things you consider important it’s easy to supplement (at least, assuming that someone is staying home, which would be necessary to homeschool). Many of my classmates in elementary school went to Kumon or other supplemental education programmes. It’s not even as if kids aren’t able to discard any incorrect information they’re taught at school – I had a science textbook that included the instruction to add powder by the teaspoonful, and I can both do experimental work and use standard measurements. I had a friend whose teacher said that any answer other than 1 for “how many sides does a circle have?” was incorrect, and my friend can do math anyhow.

    I’m not saying that I can’t see reasons for wanting to homeschool, but being able to direct your child’s education is a completely nonsensical one.

    • Conuly

      The trouble with supplementing after school – “after schooling”, as some call it – is that it really, really cuts into time at home for other things. The nieces need help in one subject each. That takes up a good half hour, each, of our family time every afternoon. I am not happy with how their schools are covering history or current events or geography (basically, not at all) – there goes much of our dinner time conversation, and significant time outside of that. The baseline homework requirements are absurd, but it has to be added onto the afternoons. Eventually, you run out of hours, and other things like a reasonable amount of chores or after school activities and simple free time to play with siblings and the neighbors are important too!

      Everything has a cost, and the cost of supplementing is TIME.

      • Christine

        My point about listing what everyone was doing was that there generally is time for the supplementing. And a homework load that doesn’t leave children with any time to spend with their parents is fairly easy to get fixed – everyone would be on board for that, not just parents who think that the curriculum is lacking. (Especially since any curriculum body that endorses those sort of homework standards is going to be out of it enough that they can easily be convinced to revert to a 10 month school year.)

      • Conuly

        Christine, you’re wrong. Many areas have insane homework standards, and in those areas it can be difficult to get it changed – if you can even get other parents to agree, which is definitely not always the case! I have actually been in conversations where people said they thought a four hour homework load for their own first grader was reasonable, though hard. My mind, it boggled.

        And time for supplementing? The kids get out at three, we get home at 3:30, we spend an hour on homework, half an hour on reading (also homework), half an hour on extras, now it’s 5:30, the kids get half an hour of screen time then take a bath, at 6:45 they get out and clear the living room and their bedroom (one room per kid), we eat dinner at 7, and they’re in bed by 8:30… which means they have to get ready for bed no later than 8:10. That leaves, what, forty minutes in which to cram family time and free time and fun?

        Except on the days when we do swimming, in which case everything is packed EVEN TIGHTER into the day.

      • Anat

        When the daughter was in elementary school I supplemented her learning in various areas – practicing math facts in the early grades, doing science experiments at home a bit later. In middle and high school our supplementation of her education is mostly in the form of discussing topics with her, sharing articles. Supplementing her learning is one of the things we do for fun as a family. OTOH my daughter has always stayed up late – ever since toddlerhood, so that gives her more time.

      • Christine

        Conuly, I do not see how your schedule doesn’t leave time for supplementing. It takes about two weeks, if that, to cover the information that is imparted in a term at school. Unless there is absolutely nothing which the school is teaching which is useful, you don’t need that much time (dinners, weekends, school breaks) to cover what is missing. Think back to your own childhood (if you went to school): what percentage of what you learned was in school vs at home?

        If the system is really so broken that there is no time to spend together with your kids having fun, the solution isn’t to say “well families that can’t homeschool will just have to suffer.” The solution is to fix the system which is very clearly broken.

    • Conuly

      Think back to your own childhood (if you went to school): what percentage of what you learned was in school vs at home?

      Up until high school, Christine, I didn’t learn anything academic at school. No, I tell a lie, I learned some things in the 8th grade, in our regents level (high school level) classes.

      Of course, I had more free time because I never deigned to do my homework, but that’s not the point.

      Furthermore, it may take two weeks for YOU to “cover what takes a term at school”, but it takes more than that for this family. The nieces are smart, but we work subjects where they struggle, and which they don’t particularly enjoy, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it takes them a while at home.

      As far as “fix the schools!” goes, I was under the impression that YOU were the one who thought supplementing instead of fixing the schools was a reasonable solution to poor schools. I think supplementing, like homeschooling, is simply not going to work for every family, which was why I made my first reply to you.

      You were the one who said it is easy for everybody to supplement if they feel the school isn’t doing enough. Well, even for well-educated, motivated families with somebody at home to do such a thing, it isn’t. Not for everybody.

      • Christine

        Ah, I’m sorry Conuly, I seem to have miscommunicated my point entirely. I was trying to illustrate that claiming that the state controls education is logical fallacy. The public school model allows society to have some input into the children’s education – it prevents the parents from holding all the cards. “Supplementing teaching” wasn’t given as a solution for fixing a broken system but as a solution for “the government shouldn’t control what kids learn”.

        I suspect that my goals for educating a child are substantially different from yours – you say that even without having to do worksheets, tests, presentations, 6 or 7 other subjects and classroom discipline issues a 10-to-1 compression in information time doesn’t work. I’m not looking for a child to, for example, explain how the six nations government worked, and what that tells us about conflict resolution and governance. I’m looking for her to have an idea of what they ate, how they dressed, how they lived, etc. Maybe two or three times what the social studies curriculum teaches about how a non-local First Nation lived, nothing in depth. I’m not saying I’d stick with only one visit to a historical resconstruction site. But once you do that, all you have to do is give the kids a couple of books, and then talk about it for a bit. Significantly under two weeks. No, they won’t understand everything. But they’ve met their basic duty to society.

      • Conuly

        Well, the subjects they have trouble with are math and spelling. (Do you know that NYC doesn’t offer any help for dyslexic students? I could scream. I think I did scream when I heard this! It doesn’t help that she reads fairly well, although she has a tendency to mumble whenever she hits a word she knows she doesn’t know, something made all the more obvious by her dramatic rendering of every passage she CAN read fluently.) Those aren’t things we can just discuss and move on with, we have to work and work with them on it.

        As far as history and social studies goes, they don’t seem to cover much of that at all in any area (though I am pleasantly surprised at the new science standards), and it’s a lot and a lot and a lot of discussion during dinner. And a lot, did I say that? I want to get them with a solid basis by middle school so that when they DO history in middle school we can go into more detail. Because, having looked over the history standards for the state, I find them uninspired and boring as hell, as well as not doing much to encourage real critical thinking.

        But again, that does take time out of the day. Even without projects and presentations and drama, history is fractal. If you’re going in depth on any aspect of it, it’s going to take a while. I can use up two weeks doing nothing but discussing the brief part of the Second World War that concerns their great grandparents! (It’s kinda a funny story, actually.) I’m not big into overviews and surveys. That doesn’t mean I want them reciting lists of this and that (well, not primarily… I do believe in encouraging memory, but we do that by choosing a poem or song to learn and practicing on the bus), but it does mean we are going to take longer than two weeks to talk about colonial NY or the conditions behind the First World War or, my recent project, the bill of rights. Everybody should know, basically, what the first ten amendments entail.

      • Conuly

        However, yes, I do think the government should have some say in what is taught, either in school-school or homeschool. Reasonable educational standards – based on sound knowledge of how kids learn and on actual scientific and historical facts rather than politics, something we don’t always get – should be required of all students. That seems self-evident. Nobody cares if you believe in evolution, but you should at least know what the theory of evolution states (and what a theory IS) and what it doesn’t.

      • Christine

        The school failing to provide the basic needs of LD students is a good example of what I mean about how the schools need to change, and just accepting homeschooling instead of pushing for change can be a problem. I’m not saying that your nieces should necessarily be martyrs to the system in this case*, but “well we’ll just take them out” isn’t a good solution, because it requires that people be able to continue to stay home. You finally get to the point where you can afford to work again and need to stay home? I think not. I suspect that this is one of the reasons that homeschooling is considered so much more important in the US – the school system has, shall we say, suffered from the high value given to minimizing the government.

        I think that we’re not too far off on the basic beliefs we’re sharing on this, we’re just taking very different tacks on how it should be done.

        *Taking individual children out until the system gets fixed might be a good idea, but to argue a general “we need to homeschool children because public schools aren’t fulfilling their mandate” is a bad trend.

    • Conuly

      “*Taking individual children out until the system gets fixed might be a good idea, but to argue a general “we need to homeschool children because public schools aren’t fulfilling their mandate” is a bad trend.”

      Except I don’t think that. I think that there always will be SOME people who have trouble with public education, but that since not everybody can or will want to homeschool it is vital to fix the problems anyway, which will reduce the number of people who cannot deal with public school, for whatever reason.

      I was replying to your statement, which seemed to imply that supplementing is the solution to a poor-quality school. I don’t think it is, not any more than “well, everybody should homeschool!” or “charters and vouchers for everybody!” are. The solution is fixing the schools, and if that doesn’t work then it’s nice that we have other options.

  • alexf801

    Yet another reason why my mother says everyone in Texas is backwards. Although, she’s lived here since 1980 so i don’t know what it says about her.

    I have long believed that many schools in Texas lie about their dropout and college statistics. i attended what was a supposedly good school because it was located in a Dallas area suburb. My freshman class was about 700. By my senior year, there were about 420 students. Now many failed the TAKS test and remained a junior, but that is still a loss of nearly 300 students. My high school listed its graduation rate at 97%.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com M

      Oh that sounds very, very familiar, except I went to high school in a suburb of Austin.

      In more recent years, Texas has had to actually calculate its dropout rate in a rational manner. I believe it claims an ~70% graduation rate now, which still seems somewhat high but is much more believable, given that many of the students who fail the TAKS test the first time eventually do pass and receive high school diplomas.

  • http://pcyandel.wordpress.com/ Phil Y

    Many of the kids in public schools today are not being adequately educated or equipped to enter the real world of college or work. Yet, most home schooled children excel in these settings. I wonder why? Maybe having a smaller teacher to student ratio? Maybe because as younger kids sit in the same room as their older siblings are learning, they pick up more than kids that sit with others their same age. Usually, home school kids are better socialized with a wider range of people of all ages, than kids that are only in contact all day with those their same age. Maybe because home schooled kids are not subjected to bullying and peer pressure that public school kids are.

    • Steve

      Generalizations, lies and propganda

    • Karen

      I flatly dispute the idea that the public schools fail many kids. Certainly some do poorly, and some schools are terrible, usually because of policies conservatives supported, like tax cuts. I further deny that most home-schooled kids succeed in college or work, because we have no idea what they learned since no one regulates home schools.

    • Jungle Kat

      “Many of the kids in public schools today are not being adequately educated or equipped to enter the real world of college or work. Yet, most home schooled children excel in these settings.”
      Citation needed. Incidentally, I say this as someone who has met numerous adults who were homeschooled as kids, and quite a few of them did extremely poorly in college/the workforce. I knew one who had literally never written an essay or research or paper in his life, not even a short one (it’s not like the public schools I went to were fantastic, but this definitely a requirement). Others knew nothing (no, seriously, nothing) about the theory of evolution other than “it’s wrong because the Bible says so.”
      “Usually, home school kids are better socialized with a wider range of people of all ages, than kids that are only in contact all day with those their same age.”
      Again, citation needed. If what you’re saying is true, then everyone I’ve met who was homeschooled is an aberration. Most of the ones I’ve known hardly met anyone outside of their church, and it was extremely hard for them to socialize with anyone who did not come from the same strict background. I knew one guy in college, a homeschooled only child, who people actually thought was mentally challenged because he was so awkward in interacting with people. Another former homeschooler I knew lost three jobs because he was to deathly afraid of conversing with strangers to function well. Most of the rest were much less extreme, but their lack of social skills went far beyond typical introversion. I rarely, if ever, saw anything like this in people who had attended public or private schools.
      Yes, I realize this is all anecdotal, and it’s entirely possible that my experiences are well outside the norm. On the other hand, I’m not the one making assertions with no evidence to back them up. So, can you provide any statistics or studies demonstrating the remarkable success of most homeschoolers? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’m not about to be convinced without some kind of data.

      • Rosa

        How would someone do a study if homeschoolers don’t even want to be counted, much less tested or tracked?

        I’ve tutored several homeschooled students who were transitioning back to public school, so I know this: the parents that recognize their home education is failing, and put their kids back into public school, are not counted as homeschool failures, because nobody counts those. Their kids sure make the public school test scores look worse, though, at least in the first year.

      • Steve P.

        There is research, though not as much as one would like to see.

        I wrote an undergraduate term paper on a topic related to homeschooling, so I had to spend some time looking at the research. My general impression is that if we ignore the research produced by those with a very obvious agenda (agencies that support homeschooling), and look only at that produced with a less obvious or no agenda (universities and government agencies), there is not enough evidence to support either your or the HSLDA’s opinion. “Homeschooled” children are similar to schooled children in regards to their likelihood to matriculate at a college and other measures of success and achievement.

        I encounter and tutor many homeschooled children at the community college where I work. They are better students and better prepared to succeed, in my experience. They are better socialized, in regards to the kinds of social skills needed to succeed in school or the working world, but sometimes seem shy around other young people. Of course my experiences don’t prove anything anymore than your anecdotes do.

  • Christine

    Libby, thank you for posting this insight into how the HSLDA works. They were on the radio here yesterday morning, and between this and listening to the representative, I came to a conclusion: they operate as if the world ran on a Realpolitik framework. I was thinking about how ironic it was to claim that the state was being tyrannical in “controlling” what these children learned, when I was assuming (based on stories here, Lana’s blog, HA, etc) that the Romeikes’ decision to homeschool was based in part on wanting to control what their children were taught. My “AHA” moment came and I realised that the philosophy of the HSLDA is that there is no such thing as not letting one group have complete control. So at this point I’m assuming that if you buy into the HSLDA worldview that you are lacking in a bunch of life skills, and don’t even know that they exist.

    As a side note: what is the American news media like? I find that every time we have an American interviewed to talk about the agenda they’re pushing (politicians, HSLDA, Gingerich, etc), they are completely unprepared for the interviewer to actually do her job. Asking questions about flaws in the theory? Assuming that the real world is relevant? Asking for data? Refusing to let the interviewee control the interview? All either surprising, or something that the person being interviewed is pretending to not expect so that they can ignore them.

    • Rosa

      our reporters mostly don’t ask followup questions. I listen to a lot of BBC & CBC news, and you’re exactly right – our politicians and organization representatives act surprised and offended when asked basic questions like “How does this change in light of recent events?” or “Do the data actually show that?”

      Sometimes the BBC reporters, especially, seem like they can barely keep straight faces when they ask religious spokespeople or state legislators questions.

      • Christine

        I have an incredible amount of respect for the interviewers, particularly on The Current (http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/ – streaming and podcasts for anyone who’s interested, they cover a lot of American and international stuff as well as domestic). They are able to talk to all sorts of people with views that can be politely be described as extreme, and act like the person they are talking to is being very reasonable and is trying to engage in good-faith discussions. I suspect it’s why they’re able to get so many interviews – in addition to some of the *ahem* interesting Americans they’ve had on the show, they’ve talked with people supporting the regime in Syria and other countries as well as people from various NGOs representing the other side, and some conspiracy theorists.

  • Steve P.

    “there is nothing to ensure that parents who remove their children from the public schools (or never send them to begin with) are actually educating their children.”

    What about parents who choose to use public schools in their children’s education (or simply take no responsibility for their children’s education and just let the public school system take over)? There is nothing to ensure that those parents are actually feeding their children good healthy food rather than fast food. There is nothing to ensure that those parents aren’t carefully monitoring and regulating their children’s tv and video game usage. There is nothing to ensure those parents are encouraging and providing for their children to get lots of fresh air and exercise, etc. There is nothing to ensure that those parents are not verbally or physically abusing their children.

    If we are going to have the government pick out a particular group of parents whose parenting it will step in and monitor and control, why in the world would we pick a group of parents who are on average least likely to neglect or abuse their children? “Homeschooling” parents have manifestly demonstrated that they are willing (and able) to take a far more responsible and active role in child-rearing. Clearly they must be far less likely, on average, to neglect their children.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      If we are going to have the government pick out a particular group of parents whose parenting it will step in and monitor and control

      Educating is not parenting. Monitoring whether education takes place in homeschooling families is not monitoring parenting. This would be like saying that providing your children with professional medical care—i.e., surgeries or cancer treatment—is parenting. It’s not. And yes, we regulate that.

      • Steve P.

        “Educating is not parenting.”

        That seems to me to be one of the most peculiar assertions I’ve ever encountered. Thanks for your frank honesty, though.

        If I were to make a list of a handful of words, or even just three words, that succinctly define what I think parenting essentially is, education would be one of those words.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I think the context should make clear that I was talking about academics. Do you think parents should be able to take care of every medical problem that may crop up for their kids, without a doctor and without supervision or monitoring?

      • Steve P.

        I don’t understand the point of your analogy. Are you saying that parents who never take their children to a medical professional should be monitored? I suppose something ought to be done about parents like that, unless they are physicians equipped to make house calls.

        This is your argument by analogy, as far as I can tell:
        There is a good reason to believe that a parent who doesn’t take his child to the doctor is neglecting that child, so he should be monitored.
        By analogy, a parent who doesn’t send his child to school (instead making sure the child learns at home) should also be monitored.

        The problem is, the analogy only works if there is a good reason to believe that a parent who homeschools is neglecting his child. I think there is no such good reason.

        If we are looking for particular groups of children whom there are good reasons to believe are neglected so that the government can monitor them and their families, homeschooled children are a very poor choice. It would be a scandalously stupid waste of resources that could better be spent on the many groups of demonstrably at-risk children.

      • Steve P.

        I meant “demonstrably at risk groups.”

        Look at it this way: will a neglectful parent homeschool? He will not. Doing so would require an expenditure of a great deal of time and energy on his child; it will involve hard work. It is likely also to involve sacrificing an income.

        Neglectful parents will happily let their children fall into the public school system. Doing so will require no effort, it is free, and it gets the child out of his hair for several hours a day.

        So if the government is looking for a group to monitor so that it can detect neglect and correct that neglect, homeschoolers are a very stupid and wasteful choice. It is far more likely to detect parental neglect by looking at groups where parental neglect is more likely to occur.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Look at it this way: will a neglectful parent homeschool? He will not. Doing so would require an expenditure of a great deal of time and energy on his child; it will involve hard work. It is likely also to involve sacrificing an income.

        Neglectful parents will happily let their children fall into the public school system. Doing so will require no effort, it is free, and it gets the child out of his hair for several hours a day.

        So if the government is looking for a group to monitor so that it can detect neglect and correct that neglect, homeschoolers are a very stupid and wasteful choice. It is far more likely to detect parental neglect by looking at groups where parental neglect is more likely to occur.

        I used to think this too, but it’s actually not true. Some families whose kids are continually truant decide it’s easier to say that they’re homeschooling so that they don’t have to spend the effort making sure their kid gets to school, and some abusive parents pull their children from public school and homeschool so that teachers don’t notice the bruises and other signs of abuse. Here is a collection of links on the subject, and here is a dissertation on families pulling their kids from school and claiming to homeschool just so they can avoid truancy laws, not so that they can actually educate.

      • ZhongZhang

        And yet, out of two million home schoolers, just what number do you think are somehow being abused or neglected? The top three homeschooling fathers’ professions are accountant/engineer, professor/doctor/lawyer, and small business owner. Hardly the most likely group to neglect. I’m sure it happens, as it does in all walks of life, but I fear you’re focusing an awful lot of worry on what is an extremely tiny issue.

      • NeaDods

        How tiny of an issue is it to the children being abused? How can you seriously say that *any* child *anywhere* being abused is too small of an issue to worry about?

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Citation for the top three homeschooling fathers’ professions, please? There have been no—and yes I do mean no—actually representative studies of homeschoolers. So in reality, we don’t know what the professions of homeschooling fathers are, what grades homeschooled children get, or how homeschooled kids turn out. And if you really think it’s tiny, you might take a look at this site: http://hsinvisiblechildren.org/ or at the comments being made on this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/hslda-address-the-problem-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-in-homeschooling-families-2 Also, even if the problem were tiny, I would still care, because every abused child is worth getting help for.

      • Noelle

        Not to mention it’s a bit sexist to only care what Dad does for a living, even if such numbers were available.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Also, let me explain my analogy once again, because you’re right, I did it badly the first time: Just because something involves a child does not mean that thing is “parenting.” Performing an operation or a medical checkup on a child is not “parenting,” it is practicing medicine. Teaching a child academic subjects is not “parenting,” it is educating.

      • Steve P.

        Libby Ann

        As for #42, of course those things occur, but I doubt that monitoring homeschoolers as a group is an efficient and cost-effective way to detect and correct neglect and detect abuse–I doubt that homeschoolers are more likely to abuse and neglect their children in any way (including “educational neglect”) than non-homeschoolers.

        A program to target Particular groups for monitoring in an effort to detect and correct abuse might be a good use of tax dollars, but a program that targets groups where abuse and neglect are least likely to be found would essentially be a cynical misuse of tax dollars and a manifest effort to achieve anything but the goal of the program. If you take a closer look at what the links you provided demonstrate, I think you will see that they are no evidence at all that the targeting homeschoolers for monitoring makes any sense. The stories of individual children who are neglected and abused are of course irrelevant. Countless examples of abused and neglected public school children could also be found. The only serious attempt at an argument is the “non-purposeful homeschooling” argument. The best thing that can be said about that is that the researcher chose a sufficiently modest thesis. He succesfully demonstrated that what he defined as “non-purposeful homeschooling” EXISTS in Illinois. Surely you don’t believe that is a good and sufficient reason for the program you are advocating?

        As for #43, we are from different planets. Your rephrasing doesn’t help; it is still one of the most peculiar assertions I have ever read. It seems to me to be the precise opposite of the truth. Parenting isn’t merely providing the kids with food and a roof over their heads; it essentially includes “academic” educating, in every sense that the word “academic” can be applied to grade-school-age education and learning, and also includes taking personal responsibility as a parent for doing whatever needs to be done to make sure that the child is prepared for academia if possible and if that turns out to be the child’s choice.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com M

        …but a program that targets groups where abuse and neglect are least likely to be found …

        Citation needed. We simply don’t know this if this is true or not, because we have no oversight of homeschooling families. We have no reliable studies of homeschooling families. Thus, we don’t know what the rate of abuse is in homeschooling families and whether it is higher, lower, or comparable to the nation as a whole.

      • ZhongZhang

        Not true. Parents have the right to refuse medical attention for their children. Freedom isn’t pretty. It’s messy. But you get both sides of it. I would be far more worried about the neglectful educations that hundreds of millions of public school children are getting than getting all fired up over approximately 2 million children who consistently beat those hundreds of millions of public school children in every measure available.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Citation for homeschooled kids beating public school kids by every measure available? Believe it or not, there’s actually no actual evidence that that is the case.

        Second, would you tell a parent of an abducted child who has responded to his child’s abduction by starting an initiative to help abducted children that he should be more worried about kids abused by their own parents rather than being concerned about the handful of abducted kids? I think not! This is the same thing. I DO care about the schools, especially so given that my own children will be attending them, but my own background was being homeschooled and there’s really nothing odd with me wanting to stick up for kids who are being homeschooled.

      • NeaDods

        Parents do not, in the USA, have the right to refuse lifesaving medical attention for their children. Those parents who think that their “freedom” comes before the child’s right to medical attention lose both child and freedom.

        As for the rest of your assertion, citation needed. Especially as I hang out on science and evolution blogs as well as here and see wave after wave of religiously schooled children come online with their idea of their better understanding of the world. “Consistently beat” is about the right wording, but I guarantee you, the winners are not who you think.

  • Rilian

    ” Ten U.S. states don’t even require that parents register their homeschools with the state education authority, let alone any testing, curriculum, or portfolio requirements. In these states, compulsory education has in practice been repealed.”

    Good! The problem with “compulsory education” is that it’s not just the parents your forcing, it’s the kids. You’re forcing them to use their minds for things they don’t care about. Learning things and acquiring skills is not a bad thing. What’s bad is someone else acting like they have the right to decide WHAT you learn, and when, and how.

    What we need is some way to ensure that *individuals*, of all ages, have ACCESS to information, to give them the opportunity to educate themselves. Forcing people to study THIS, NOW, does not accomplish that, and it’s a violation of their self-ownership. And it damages their motivation to learn anything, particularly subjects which are tainted by “school”, and it damages their ability to learn anything without someone like a “teacher” leading them.

    So the problem is, how do we make sure people have access to education? Compulsory schooling is not a good solution because it violates people’s (the kids’s) rights, and it doesn’t work. Not only that, it’s worse than nothing. Schooling is worth negative education.

    “Namely, how are educational officials to know who is homeschooled and who is, well, just a dropout?”

    I’m from texas. I withdrew from my high school at age 16 and then graduated from homeschooling when I was 18.

    If you are registered at a school and you don’t go, you’re truant. If you withdraw from the school, you are now homeschooling. Suppose I withdraw from my high school and then proceed to do “nothing”. Well, I’m not actually doing nothing. I’m living. And you can’t live without learning. In most cases, I’m better off. Exceptions are things like, I go and join a gang or something, or my parents lock me in a closet. Those exceptions need to be addressed somehow, but not by compulsory schooling.

    Whether unschooling is really legal in texas is not clear to me. But I don’t care. It’s my right, whether the criminal gang that calls itself government recognizes it or not.

    There are probably a lot of people who quit going to high school and think of themselves as “dropouts”. But it is not the case that they never learn anything else. Maybe some do never learn anything else, but most probably get jobs, and you have to learn how to get a job and do a job. So, really, there’s no such thing as a dropout from education. People can quit certain programs, but the only way to quit learning is to die. Or be brain-dead, I guess.

    So, who’s “homeschooling” and who’s a “dropout” doesn’t matter.

    I have no idea how my old high school counted me, as a dropout or what, and I don’t care. I would be wary of registration, though. I’d be afraid that it would pave the way for requiring me to do certain programs, which is what I was trying to get away from when I withdrew from the government school.

    We moved to arkansas when my brother was 13, and he had already been homeschooling for 2 years. The first year, my mom registered him and he took the stupid standardized test that was required, and then after that, she just didn’t bother. Nothing ever happened. My best friend here did register every year, until she was 14, because she then graduated and started college. Oddly, the arkansas compulsory edumacation law is such that she was actually “truant” for 3 and a half years while she was going to college. But nothing ever happened. I have cousins who homeschool in oklahoma, and it’s pretty much the same there; they have “rules” that are not enforced. Hooray! Freedom! Not freedom from parents, but at least freedom from skewl.

    I understand that school is a safe haven for some people. I remember when I was little being relieved when it was time for school, but school was terrible too, and then I’d be relieved when it was time to go home. Both were terrible in their own ways and it was nice to get a break from both of them. What we need in this society is more respect for children as people and for them to have the choice to go to school or not, for a start. Not for their parents to choose, for the children themselves to choose.

    • http://Becomingworldly.wordpress.com Heatherjanes

      You certainly can think of this stuff so theoretically that you fail to realize that if you don’t have a certain skill set it sets you back in real life, curtails your ability to work and provide for yourself and your family. I am all about living life and studying what you want but that’s still a hard fact you can’t get around.
      Thing is, it is not just some “homeschooling v. public schooling” dichotomy. There is good quality homeschooling, mediocre homeschooling, and bad homeschooling, same with public school. Smart regulations and access to resources and multiple people who care and have a sense of responsibility make things better. You simply can’t have children’s rights exist in a society without there being checks and balances actively protecting those rights. Deregulation creates a “wild west” setting where the powerful generally win and the weak (in this case, the young) capitulate because there is no other option for them.
      I was one of those homeschool kids who, out of all my siblings, was the only one to learn to read. I think it is obnoxious (or at least uninformed) for someone to respond to the lack of regulations that hurt my siblings and I with the word “good.” It sure as heck wasn’t “good” for me and I definitely think sensible (i.e. not overbearing) regulations is what we need to protect children’s rights and the reason we don’t have them is because we don’t respect kids enough, whether they’re homeschooled or public schooled.

  • Steve P.

    A government is a corporation. There is a type of error that is commonly made about corporations–actual real personhood is attributed to them. We have to impute personhood to corporations, because they do in fact have some of the characteristics of persons. But we err when we fail to understand that ultimately they are not really persons. Ideally all parents love their children but in fact some parents do not. Absolutely no governments love their children, though. A government is not a real person and cannot love. In general, governments are likely to be less capable of determining that a child learn well than that child’s own parents, who normally know him very well and love him very much.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      This isn’t true. Our government is the representative of we the people, and is the way we as a society take efforts to accomplish certain things collaboratively—protecting our borders, helping offset the pain of unemployment, ensuring that food is produced in sanitary conditions. One thing that we as a society care about investing in is our children—for their good and for the good of our society in the future. This is one reason that the government has every right to be involved in education.

      But there’s a second thing, too. Parents need a check and balance on their power over their children, just as we have checks and balances within our government. Without that parental authority over children becomes tyranny, and we all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Children don’t belong to their parents and they don’t belong to the government. They belong to themselves. However, they need help to prepare them for adulthood and protect them until they get there, and that help is balanced between parents and government, each serving as a check on the other’s power.

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