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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)

redneck

Jan-27-14 2:40 PM

as far as the policing for abuse i would have to think on that

redneck

Jan-27-14 2:37 PM

i felt it is the districts responsability to offer education to every child in the district at least the 3 rs, they paid taxes also so they are entitled to services

redneck

Jan-27-14 2:32 PM

well i thought it was law and i felt it was a good thing, i felt he was there to offer any help he could, with books or advice what ever he or they felt was necessary.

AndreaJohnson

Jan-27-14 2:24 PM

It's not state law now and hasn't been for a few decades, if it ever was. If a family in that district had complained, the principal would have had to stop. Do you think that sort of monitoring OUGHT to be a requirement for homeschoolers? Why or why not?

redneck

Jan-27-14 2:24 PM

principle

redneck

Jan-27-14 2:22 PM

i usto sit on a local school board and that was one of the requirements of the princpail

AndreaJohnson

Jan-27-14 2:07 PM

As far as I know, there is no state law requiring that homeschooling families be visited by school officials. I think most districts do let homeschooled kids compete on athletic teams or maybe take a class or two in the district while being homeschooled the rest of the day.

redneck

Jan-27-14 1:54 PM

some of my experiences is the home schooled kids are visited by the districts principle a number of times a year, and they are eligible to join in on the sports if they want to

AndreaJohnson

Jan-27-14 1:46 PM

Virtual academies are one way of long distance education. I took a correspondence class in high school that was offered by the state. Kids who are enrolled in public schools may take a class or two this way online too. There are also private homeschool online academies that some homeschooling families use that actually grade work by kids, offer online classes or grant diplomas. People enrolled in those programs are being educated. I think the main area of concern is parents who remove kids from school primarily to avoid having abuse or neglect detected. State laws all too often let those families get away with it and there is little follow up to ensure that kids are actually being taught to a certain standard. If a family is socially isolated, it's likely that abuse will go undetected.

EarlyBird

Jan-27-14 1:07 PM

***********ndcde****/Home.aspx

The North Dakota Center for Distance Education (ND CDE) is an accredited, non-profit, distance education school that has been providing educational opportunities to students around the world since 1935.

ND CDE's courses are available to any students in grades 6-12. ND CDE is familiar and works well with a variety of educational arrangements including public, private, home, and charter schools. ND CDE provides instructional support for all its courses. All students receive one-on-one help.

 
 

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