Home > Uncategorized > A Seemingly Irresolvable Dilemma: Homeschooling Parents Want Absolute Liberty; States Have Obligation to Ensure Safety.

A Seemingly Irresolvable Dilemma: Homeschooling Parents Want Absolute Liberty; States Have Obligation to Ensure Safety.

January 19, 2018

The recent case in California involving parents who operated a “private school” with virtually no state oversight in order to hide  their mistreatment of the children raised the awareness of many people who were formerly unaware of the consequences of deregulation. But, as Politico Morning Edition writer Caitlin Emma reported, it was no surprise at all to Rachel Coleman, the executive director and co-founder of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

“We see this again and again and again,” Coleman told Morning Education. “This case was almost textbook.”

Coleman and her co-founders, who were all home-schooled with both positive and negative experiences, launched the organization in 2013 to shed light on the lack of protections for many students educated at home and cases of abuse. They scour the Internet for cases to highlight, conduct research, field questions and concerns from individuals and families, provide resources and help state lawmakers draft legislation to bolster protections.

Coleman said she has been fielding a lot of calls this week from reporters “shocked” to learn of the nation’s lax home-school laws after news of the California case broke. “The thing about home schooling is, it gives parents an awful lot of freedom and it doesn’t give any freedom to the kids,” she said. “In the hands of healthy, well-meaning parents who really care about their kids’ best interests, it can be a good thing. But there’s nothing preventing parents from using those freedoms to create absolute horror.”

Ms. Coleman goes on to note that California is hardly the only state with lax oversight when it comes to homeschooling and/or private schools: 14 other states only ask that parents notify the state if they intend to homeschool their children and 11 other states “…don’t require (homeschool) parents to have any contact with state or local officials”. Her organization fully supports the right for parents to homeschool, but advocates that regulations be in place that require homeschool children to “…have regular doctor’s visits” in order to ensure that they “…are seen somewhat regularly by people who are obligated to report child abuse or neglect.”

While this seems like an eminently reasonable requirement, it is opposed by some homeschool advocacy groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association who see ANY mandates that open the door to “the State” as a means of stripping the liberty of parents. Ms Emma reports on a recent interview of the Home School Legal Defense Association’s president Mike Smith for KNX, an AM radio station in Los Angeles.

“This is a liberty issue,” Smith said during the interview. “And unless it can be proven that parents are not responsibly teaching their children at home, then the state has no interest … And the other thing is, whether we like it or not, in America, there’s no fundamental right for a child to have an education. Do I believe there should be? Absolutely. That’s the reason I’m in home schooling … That’s the reason most families are involved in home schooling. They want their children to have an excellent education and they want to be able to guide and direct them. And if you bring the state in, once they get involved … the state simply wants to take more and more of that liberty.”

Will the 25 states that have virtually no regulatory oversight on home schoolers revisit their stance on this and, at the very least, adopt the position of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education? Given the lack of courage in most Statehouses and legislatures, I doubt it. And while few children are tortured in their homes, as Ms. Coleman of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education notes, many children will have their liberty diminished.

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