Public School Withdrawal Audits

Texas homeschooling rights are similar to Illinois home education legalities.  Per a Texas Supreme Court ruling, homeschoolers in Texas are considered private schools the same as any brick and mortar private school building in the state.  The 1950 Board vs Levisen IL Supreme Court ruling determined our Illinois private school status as homeschoolers.  There have been other similarities with Texas along the way.  But the IL State Board of Education hasn’t called for an audit as the Texas Education Agency has.

The Texas Education Agency audited more than 22,000 public school withdrawal records to determine whether the transfers were intending to homeschool -as the records indicated, or whether public school officials had jimmied the records in a manner to keep the dropout rate down in their school districts.

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. …… 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.

The Houston Chronicle published the article quoted above earlier this month [High number of home-schooled students leads to state audit JENNIFER RADCLIFFE Sept. 2, 2010].  The quote calls the Texas homeschooling rights “lax regulations”, but that is an unfortunate description.  Our rights aren’t lax, they’re free of bureaucracy.  And homeschoolers are not responsible for the lax accountability of public school officials. Other than the tax monies expended.  Tim Lambert has it right.

The Texas Home School Coalition applauds the state’s efforts to crack down on public school districts who are “dumping” dropouts in the home-schooling category. Although the group strongly opposes government involvement in home schooling, it acknowledges that this audit is not being conducted to reproach families who are educating their children at home. “School administrators are violating the policy and causing these problems,” coalition president Tim Lambert said. “The solution is, in our view, to put in place some sort of penalties for school officials who are abusing this process.”

Firing tax paid officials doing this doesn’t seem out of the question.  I’ve seen this process used  in at least two different Illinois school districts, and the brush off of those students and families was not intended to be in the kids’ best interests.

In Illinois, school authorities have contorted the issue into a “no-school” problem,  trying to draw homeschoolers into their net.  It’s odd and disturbing.  Clinton-Marion-Washington County Regional Office of Education Supt. Keri Garrett seems to have gone a different direction and invented a truancy problem, suggesting she must have daytime curfew ordinances because : “Instead of figuring out the problem, they’ll [parents] yank the child out because they’re not old enough to drop out and tell me they’re going to homeschool”.    She wrote up daytime curfew ordinances for various towns in her area that call for town authorities to report any homeschoolers to her office, if they are stopped and questioned while out and about during ‘school hours’.  As private schools, Illinois homeschoolers are not restricted by the public school schedule or calendar.  They are also not required to report to bureaucrats.)   She attempted pushing this ordinance in Salem and Salem homeschoolers fought back. The ordinance was dropped.  I should mention that in 2009, Salem had a .2 % chronic truancy rate.  That’s just one example emanating from one Regional Office of Education.

Some similar questions about artful public school dodging have arisen from some of our neighbors to the east. Richmond, Indiana’s high school received the Lugar Education Patriot Award from their Senator Lugar heralding the school’s apparent change in status from a 2007 “dropout factory”.  In 3 years, their graduation rate has increased from 56% to 80%, and I’m sure all schools officials want to know their secret.

The leap in the school’s reported graduation rates has not come without some heightened scrutiny and concern, including from one school board member.
Longtime board member David Stidham, who is serving in his final term, questioned during a board meeting last November how a reported increase in home-schooled students has impacted dropout rates.
Students who transfer from one school to another, as with those who choose home schooling, do not count against graduation rates but dropouts do.

Seems to be a pattern.

Homeschool advocate, Ben Bennett (Indiana Home Education Network), asks on his blog:

The question is: will the attacks on the homeschooling community come before the facts about the tactics of Government Schools are known?

The attacks on the Illinois homeschooling community are here.  Looks like Texas is trying to deal with the issue, the Indiana Education Agency seems to be ignoring it, and Illinois school authorities are trying to restrict homeschooling rights because of some public school system twists and turns.  The time is now to fight back.  Stay tuned…

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DeKalb Regional Office of Education

The DeKalb County ROE has “Home Schooling” listed on the sidebar under Services. I think most homeschoolers don’t consider the Regional Office of Education/ISBE attempts to co-opt homeschooling a particular service.

Here’s what is quoted:

Illinois court decisions have established that a parent may teach his/her own child/children in their home provided that the child’s educational program satisfies the requirements as set forth in the Illinois School Code.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has an approved Home School Registration form available

I took out the link, as the ISBE needs as little help as possible with their website. What is an “approved Home School Registration form“? Was it approved by our legislators? No, or it would be law. If it’s not law, despite the over-compliance requests of the public school authorities, our private homeschools do not have to register with the Dekalb Regional Office of Education nor the IL State Board of Education. It would be detrimental for homeschoolers to do so.

The Catholic or non-sectarian private school down the road does not fill out Registration forms.  Homeschoolers, as private schools, should not fill out registration forms.  It’s much more personal for us when they’re  honing in on our homes.  They should respect that.   We’re not accountable to the ISBE Data Processing and Progress Reporting department.

One other reason it would be a bad idea is apparent below.   If you don’t have to “Complete All Areas of this Form” and return one copy here and one copy there, and then wonder if a Data Analysis and Progress Reporting department will find more hoops for you to jump through, why do it?

Please Complete All Areas of this Form then

— RETURN one signed copy to:

Tatia Beckwith, Assistant Superintendent
DeKalb County Regional Office of Education
2500 N. Annie Glidden Road, Suite C
DeKalb, IL 60115

— And RETURN one signed copy to:

Illinois State Board of Education
Data Analysis and Progress Reporting
100 N. First Street, S-284
Springfield, IL 62777-0001

This above request for paperwork only feeds a bureaucracy.  Homeschoolers can fulfill our children’s educational well being by taking the time to visit a wonderful museum or park rather than filling out invasive paperwork.  That’s one of the great joys of Illinois homeschooling.

DeWitt-Livingston-McLean Regional Office of Education

Since my address is within this Regional Office of Education area, I’ve checked it periodically. I don’t believe I’ve heard of problems stemming from this ROE, and the last I checked a year or so ago, they didn’t have much of an online presence.  But unfortunately, now this ROE  has a sidebar listing “Home School Information“.  Illinois homeschools are private schools, not public schools.  The trend of  IL State Board of Education/Regional Offices of Education on-line contortions throughout the state mis-representing Illinois homeschool rights and responsibilities is distressing.  One wonders what they say to new homeschoolers in face to face discussions, or via the telephone.
When you click that link, it takes you to this page: http://www.roe17.org/district_statistics.php
The quote below is their synopsis, followed by a link to a letter (pdf) signed off by the current ROE Superintendent, Mark Jontry, along with a linked IL State Board of Education Home School Registration Form.
Parents who choose to home school their child are encouraged to register their home school with the Regional Office of Education.  More information about Home Schooling is available in the documents below or by contacting Mary Orff.
Homeschool families should be not a standard piece of public school “statistics”  any more than other private school families.  That protection was preserved in the 1950 Illinois Supreme Court  Levisen ruling.  But, with the encouragement to register homeschoolers – attempting to place private schools under public school jurisdiction, rather than parental oversight –  the IL State Board of Education and the Regional Offices of Education are striving to destroy our autonomy.  Homeschoolers are not required to register, and should not register with the Regional Office of Education, or ISBE.  Those forms go to the ISBE Data Analysis & Progress Reporting Department, whose role is this:   “Analyzes data for policy and planning; coordinates annual reporting on progress related to Board goals and legislative requirements”.  Legislative requirements for homeschoolers do not include registration.  Since schools are suffering from financial losses, these public servants might be planning to bring in more private schoolers to gain more funding from federal and state governmental sources.  Is that what public service should entail?
Private schools have more important and worthy ongoing family and educational projects than delivering forms to bureaucrats intent on limiting their freedoms.  The ROE letter signed off by Superintendent Jontry appears to be a typical form seen in various Regional Offices of Education.  It begins with this:
Parents who choose to educate their children at home are under a legal obligation to meet the minimum requirements stated in the Illinois’ Compulsory Attendance Law (Section 26-1 of the Illinois School Code).  Children should be taught “…the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools” and are further obligated to be offered instruction in these core courses in the English language.  The “branches of education” include language arts, mathematics, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and physical development and health.
The *exemption* to the IL Compulsory attendance statute is located in Sec. 26-1 :Compulsory school age-Exemptions. One would have to question the public school branches of education listed in the quote above.  For example, many fine arts public school programs have been dropped, and so public schools do not include all of the “branches of education” listed above.
Here is the next paragraph in the letter:
Please complete the enclosed “Home School Registration” form for the 2009-2010 school year provided by the Illinois State Board of Education regarding the instruction you are providing for your child/children, and return it to the above address.  We will forward a copy to the Illinois State Board of Education.
There is nothing in that paragraph that states their registration form is not required.  This is deceptive, and a typical bullying practice by school authorities.  That form will indeed be sent to the Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Department of the IL State Board of Education.
Further in the letter, this below is stated in an intimidating and unnecessary manner.  Homeschoolers are taking on the education of their children, and are obviously engaged in their children’s lives.  Including truancy as a threat in this letter is unfortunate:
3. Truancy under 105 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/26 of The School Code states that the Regional Superintendent is responsible for determining which children should be referred to the State’s Attorney as truants for failure to attend a public school in the district of  residence or a private or parochial school.  The children receiving home-schooling  must receive an education corresponding to the age and grade of those children attending a public school the entire time the public school is in session during a regular school term.
If public school children are not attending the schools, they are truant.  There are no time factors or schedules included in the compulsory attendance age exemption statute for private schools/homeschools.  As a matter of fact, many homeschoolers have learning projects and educational schedules throughout the entire year, and various times of day and night, and are not limited by public school schedules.
If, in the judgment of the public school of residence and the Regional Office of Education, the home instructions given by the parent are not “commensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools”, then the case will be referred for truancy proceedings.  Thereafter, the determination of whether the home instruction is a satisfactory equivalent to a public education can be made by a judge in a truancy hearing.
Oddly, public school instruction is often notcommensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools“.  But that’s not homeschoolers’ problem.  However, per the Illinois compulsory attendance age exemption: “Any child attending a private or a parochial school where children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language”.
Homeschoolers should teach the branches of education taught for the same age(s) and grade in the public school, and teach it in English.  It seems that public schools have enough problems, without seeking out and bullying homeschoolers.
Illinois homeschoolers are not part of the public school system.  Let’s keep it that way.

IL Association of School Boards Releases Homeschool Article

“With no one actually counting and only voluntary testing, no one knows whether the success stories offered by the Lanes, the Nicols, the Bluedorns and the Vanden Bosches are typical of the home schooling experience. And with no accurate numbers, the complete story of home schooling may never be written.” – IASB site – Ginger Wheeler

The IL Association of School Boards released an article focusing on homeschoolers in their July/August 2010 Journal.  Homeschoolers are not under public school jurisdiction, unless there is a reasonable question about a child’s educational neglect.  The conclusion is quoted above, and the mantra throughout seems to focus on the lack of homeschool counts in Illinois.  Illinois homeschoolers do not report to or notify public school authorities, unless they are leaving the public school to homeschool.

Rising home schooling: Who really knows?

Illinois is known in the home schooling community as a friendly place: there are practically zero restrictions or regulations on homeschooling families here if learning occurs in English.

Home-schoolers revel in this freedom, and it may attract them to move to and settle in Illinois. But the Illinois Regional Offices of Education find the light regulations troubling, and some ROE superintendents say some families are illegally using home schooling as a way to mask truancy. Their hands are tied to do much about it.

As the posts here on the IL Homeschool Freedom Watch blog note, various ROEs under the IL State Board of Education guidance make frequent attempts to snare homeschoolers, even with their “hands tied”.   It’s quite amazing that some homeschool groups choose to work with the Illinois State Board of Education, when the ISBE is blatantly demanding over-compliance from homeschoolers on their website with their creation of a non-mandated registration form.  Some, as with Keri Garrett in the ROE #13, have successfully attempted to inflict daytime curfews on homeschoolers because of this ‘concern’ cited in the Centralia Sentinel:

“We ask that they [homeschoolers] fill out a registration form, because people do call and ask about children they see out during the day, and the state board is asking for more information.”

Fortunately Salem homeschoolers in her ROE defeated this infringement on their rights.

Continuing from the IASB article regarding our Illinois homeschool freedoms:

And that’s just fine for home-schoolers. One home school mom, and now a grandmother, Laurie Bluedorn, of New Boston, said her family moved to Illinois from Iowa so they could home school unfettered by pesky government intrusion. Bluedorn’s family moved across the Mississippi when her oldest son, Nathaniel, was 6 in 1982, a time when the practice was illegal in Iowa. She home- schooled all five of her now-grown children, and now her daughter Johannah, plans to continue the tradition with Bluedorn’s grandchild.

Bluedorns moving to Illinois became a gift to us regarding their homeschool advocacy.  Harvey Bluedorn wrote this article years ago reminding homeschoolers why we should stay vigilant about ISBE and ROE attempts to regulate us:

Illinois Homeschoolers –  Eight Reasons Not to Register

By Harvey Bluedorn, New Boston, Illinois

1. Because there is no requirement to register in Illinois. Period. Administrators attempt to impose their will upon individuals through intimidation, harassment and coercion. They invent requirements which have no foundation in law. When our freedoms are infringed upon by government bureaucrats, they become emboldened to take the matter another step. Continued at Trivium Pursuit site

Ms. Wheeler says this in her article: In effect, any child who is home-schooled, is actually attending a private school, according to the state.

That statement seems unclear, and vague.  Any Illinois child who is homeschooled is actually attending a private school because of the 1950 Illinois Supreme Court case ruling.  We should all understand that the Illinois government sites are not always accurate, or blatantly misleading.  Use of the term, “the state”, does not explicitly pinpoint the judicial branch determination that Illinois homeschools are private schools, along with the legislative branch generally leaving homeschoolers alone since.   That is the set precedent.

PEOPLE VS. LEVISEN

There was also acknowledgement of virtual school potentials into the homeschool community.  We can assume the excitement is regarding more funding for public schools and more homeschool accountability to school bureaucracies.  Neither has been proven to increase educational success for children.

With the passage of last fall’s remote education programming legislation, which allows school districts to claim state aid for virtual coursework, the state may make learning even more accessible for home-schoolers, and help schools find new ways to get into the game and pay for it.

The K12 company has been incessantly lobbying for access to Illinois public school funds.  They provide curriculum for the Chicago Virtual School, which appears to be successful for many Chicago public school students.  I don’t believe there was a concerted lobbying effort from Illinois homeschoolers to gain access to this virtual program.  But the Chicago Teachers Union lawsuit side show revealed a great deal about some school authority opinions regarding home educators.  Stewart was the Chicago Teacher Union President at the time of the CTU lawsuit against ISBE, the Chicago Public School, et al.  From the Chi-Town Daily News:

“For them to think they can address the social and emotional issues of a child without being in the same room as that child is ludicrous,” Stewart said. “You can only adequately address these issues in a classroom where you have necessary peer support and peer interaction.”

Ms. Wheeler acknowledged the intense focus on school socialization, and provided homeschoolers’ feedback in the IASB article Socialization section.  It’s fascinating that there is almost always a socialization section pertaining to the education of homeschoolers.  The young adult homeschoolers addressed the issue well in the article,  including pointing out a ‘home-grown’ spoof play: Home-schoolers with Social Skills: Live!

Long time Champaign County homeschooler Elizabeth Nicol revised her style of homeschooling as the years have passed.  From the IASB Journal:

Nichol said her teaching style has changed over the years. “There’s a lot of flexibility about what can be taught, but through elementary school, it doesn’t really matter which year you learn about the American Revolution or about the solar system,” she said. “There’s so much to learn about and so you just sort of choose. We have an opportunity to go to Scotland, so we are learning about castles.

“My plans have changed. We do a lot of exploring. We take advantage of a lot of opportunities. We read a lot of books. (With the youngest son) it’s much more disorganized, but I’m comfortable with that, because I have experience. People who are just starting out, are a little more uptight about (the curriculum),” she said.

Many homeschoolers have discovered what Elizabeth knows.  That’s why we are grateful to not be tied into the testing regimen of the public schools, along with the school schedule.  This is despite the Regional Offices of Education attempts to limit us to 176 days a year, as just noted in the recent Will County ROE post, for instance.  Homeschoolers appreciate learning day in and day out, without the time waste of documenting that time.  That bureaucracy is not conducive to learning.

Illinois homeschoolers would like to protect their families from what didn’t or wouldn’t work for their families in the public schools.  There is increased attention by organizations like the Illinois Association of School Boards, along with the powerful teacher union disdain for home education.  Worst of all, the Illinois school authorities from the IL State Board of Education and Regional Offices of Education – who know better – along with the bullying principal or teacher telling families they need to put up and shut up; should give homeschoolers a heads up.  We need to fight all those little and big fires to waylay the institutional trend against homeschoolers, including watching out for the legislator and legislation that is not homeschool friendly.  The Illinois Association of School Boards has backed off from infringing on homeschool rights in the past.  I hope they continue that precedent.

Educational Rigor Prevails: Indian Prairie School District Homeschool Policy

This homeschool policy (705.02: Part-Time Attendance by Private or Home-School Students) was approved unanimously by the Indian Prairie School District 204 on June 22, 2009.

From the Beacon Herald:

D204 compromises on home-school policy

June 25, 2009 By TIM WALDORF

The first draft of this policy, presented at the May 25 board meeting, upset some home school families, who argued it would effectively prevent home school students from ever graduating from the district because their programs more often than not aren’t and can’t be accredited.
“The difference that you’re going to see in this new version versus the old is that in the old we indicated that we were not going to accept any credits from a no-accredited school toward graduation. So they would all have to be accredited or else we weren’t going to issue a diploma,” said Mike Popp, District 204’s school improvement and planning director.
“In this version, we’re saying, ‘You know what? That’s not appropriate.’ We’re going ahead and saying we are going to accept those credits, but we put in what you talked about last time: is there a way for us to sit down with an individual student and talk about those individual courses to go ahead and honor the credit that he or she earned?”

This policy below seems appropriate:

The policy will also require these students to complete two credits in a District 204 high school in each of two consecutive semesters prior to graduation. So, in their senior year, these home school students seeking District 204 diplomas — District 204 estimates there are roughly 15 of them a year — will have to attend a District 204 high school on nearly a full-time basis, and pass four senior-level classes in order to graduate.

Previously, these students only needed to amass two and a half credits for a District 204 high school over the course of their high school career to earn a District 204 diploma.

Home school families whose students don’t meet these criteria would, instead, have to issue their own diplomas.

That seems like a fair policy.  Oddly, the  National Center for Educational Statisics (NCES) criteria uses criteria that homeschoolers are any kids who are in the public school 25 hours or less/week.  5 hours a day in the public school classroom could deem one a homeschooler in the federal Department of Education definitions.

One other question is why homeschoolers would be entering the public high school just to get a public school diploma? That piece of paper might not be as useful as a homeschool diploma, or doing as many Illinois homeschoolers do,  and just entering ‘higher education’ with transcript in hand.

“The example, by way of analogy that’s in my head, is that it’s what a university would tell you,” said board member Mark Metzger. “You can’t accumulate credits at Eastern and Western and Southern, and then call up U of I and say, ‘I’m going to take a class there, and I want my diploma from you.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

If a public school diploma is sought, the student should be enrolled and that public school should be attended.

More here about the May meeting:
Educational Rigor

Peoria County Regional Office of Education-Homeschool Report

Illinois homeschoolers do not have to report or register with the Illinois public school system.

Illinois Homeschoolers –­ Eight Reasons Not to Register

By Harvey Bluedorn, New Boston, Illinois
1. Because there is no requirement to register in Illinois. Period. Administrators attempt to impose their will upon individuals through intimidation, harassment and coercion. They invent requirements which have no foundation in law. When our freedoms are infringed upon by government bureaucrats, they become emboldened to take the matter another step. Continued at Trivium Pursuit site

Our only contact should be when a family is leaving the public school to transfer into a private school as a homeschooler.  Illinois homeschools are considered private schools via a 1950 Illinois Supreme Court ruling.

But yet, the Peoria County Regional Office of Education reports 20 homeschooled children in their 2008 Fiscal Report.

STUDENTS ENROLLED
Public    29,217
Non Public    4,553
Home School Students    20

Since Illinois homeschoolers are non-public students, it’s unfortunate that homeschoolers are separated out from private schools in this report.  Let alone homeschoolers filling out an invasive IL State Board of Education over-compliance demand.

This form is filed in ISBE’s Data Analysis & Progress Reporting Department.  The expectation being that family would file a registration form annually.  It’s an unnecessary form.

Further information is provided in the ROE’s 2008 Fiscal Report:

HOME SCHOOLS MONITORED

Families        17
Students        20
Phone Inquiries        35

Homeschools should not be monitored unless there is proof of educational neglect.  It appears that these Peoria County homeschools are monitored because the 17 families chose to fill out an Illinois State Board of Education Home School Registration Form.

Don’t Write These Laws on Our Children

I read and reviewed Indian University Associate Education Professor, Robert Kunzman‘s book: Write These Laws On Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling. This book was published by Beacon Press and released August 20, 2009.  I’m including some excerpts from my review here, along with some pertinent Illinois homeschooling concerns.

In one of Robert Kunzman’s interviews with six “strongly conservative” Christian homeschooling families, a California homeschooling mom related her kids “get a lot of life, real life that goes on, that they don’t understand when they are separated for several hours a day.”  She went on to explain that their family of nine children was able to spend valuable time lovingly caring for their grandparents as they reached the end of their lives. Whatever different views, philosophies and lifestyles any homeschooling family has, the incredibly diverse homeschool community can appreciate that, as Mr. Kunzman points out, “homeschooling is…woven into the fabric of everyday family life.”

Often, Mr. Kunzman’s feedback was requested regarding an imagined homeschool growth trend.  The National Center for Education Statistics data is reported on his site with their supposed 74% homeschooling increase since 1999.  He has developed an impressive Indiana University website called: Homeschooling Research and Scholarship. It gave a start to see that on a university link. (The University of Illinois has a homeschooling applicant section in order to study at the University, but not to be studied.)

On this blog, I’d like to refute some specific concerns that Professor Kunzman (and others) have with Illinois homeschooling freedoms.

The concern about “serious Christians” is  a theme throughout this book. Kunzman requested each of the six families fill out a General Social Survey to confirm their social, political and religious conservatism.  There must be a survey or study sought out for almost every curiosity, while most homeschoolers seem to be holding out as the last bastion.  Robert Kunzman reported that nearly a fourth of our homeschooled population don’t need to notify or verify educating their children.

Illinois homeschoolers are part of the American homeschooling community that don’t notify or report our children’s private educational choice to school authorities. (Unless we’re transferring from the public school to homeschool.)   Mr. Kunzman asked HSLDA founder Michael Smith, about homeschooling’s future potential:

“So would the ultimate goal of HSLDA, regulation-wise, be a place like Illinois,” I ask, “where parents don’t have to report, register, anything?”

Smith nods. “ultimately, yes. But we also tend to be realistic. I mean, there are organizations that stand for the proposition of no compulsory attendance. Do I think that would be good?  Probably, but it’s not gonna happen.  I mean, that’s unrealistic. So we operate within what’s realistic, incrementally making changes, but ultimately to get to the point where we have as few regulations as possible.”

Professor Kunzman appeared to understand homeschool advocates’ fierce protections of our freedoms.  He was also disturbed at some homeschool self-congratulations regarding HSLDA commissioned studies.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading HSLDA materials, considering their arguments, and observing their strategies to promote homeschooling and reduce regulations.  I understand why they keep careful track of legislative development, and I recognize that their role as an advocacy organization is to put homeschooling’s best foot forward.  While I find their tone overly combative, I realize that some of this is in response to uninformed criticism and even antagonism on the part of some public education officials and other outsiders.

But there’s no good excuse for their ongoing distortion of research.

Many in the  community acknowledge that our children are just like public schooled children.  They are part of the diverse U.S. multitude of youth; with various gifts and weaknesses.

Some would suggest that Department of Education studies (used by Kunzman and others to express their dismay that they can’t count us) is pointless.  Why is the inability to use our children as a data point a “big problem?” From the IU press release:

The fact that many families don’t report that their children are schooled at home is also a big problem in making definitive statements about this group of students. “Representations about the average home schooler performing at this or that level are simply incorrect, because we don’t even know who all the home schoolers are,” Kunzman said.

His proposed supposition throughout the book was to apply universal reading and math tests mandates on all homeschoolers.  Kunzman describes it as a “very low level of regulation that is not highly intrusive that could be agreed upon by the vast majority of homeschool parents.”  Unless he has  insider knowledge that I can’t envision, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have a good sell of that with the vast majority of homeschool parents.  When we want to assess knowledge levels- we don’t need an imperfect skills test- and we certainly don’t need to show it to an official. Homeschoolers have learned that giving in to any governmental level of regulation or intrusiveness does not serve us well.  We like our privacy, and feel we have nothing to prove to a bureaucrat just because we chose to educate our children at home.

His universal testing would take care of that “big problem” of finding and analyzing our children.  He suggested that free homeschooling states (such as Illinois) “runs the greatest risk of neglecting the interests of children and the state.” His unease seems to be baseless and cynical, as he didn’t provide proof of such neglect. An unconvincing crisis,  that school bureaucrats need to oversee already established parental accountability, will kill what we live – and what we love about homeschooling.  The former Social Studies and English high school teacher, coach and administrator describes a “triad of interests” (children, parents, society) as a concern of “advocates of regulation.”  (‘Anti-homeschoolers’ is the term I use for homeschooling regulation advocates.)  Even after hundreds of hours observing homeschoolers, Robert Kunzman either doesn’t understand the homeschooling way of life, or worse yet, he does.

~Susan Ryan

Related posts:

The full review is located at Home Education Magazine.

Three Smart Rules for Home School Regulation written by Washington Post Education Columnist: Jay Mathews.  Please read the comments, as several homeschoolers explain our good cause for learning freedoms.