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Should Homeschools be Regulated?

by Countable | Updated on 4.10.18

What’s the story?

  • In January, a California couple was arrested after their thirteen children were found living in "dark and foul-smelling surroundings" with some “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks.”

  • The children were homeschooled. As NPR explained, "such a discovery of abuse and neglect at a home school is rare, but not unprecedented."

  • Now, lawmakers in the Golden State are considering reforms to homeschooling.

How do states currently regulate homeschooling?

Homeschooling has been legal throughout the U.S. for almost 25 years, with regulations varying by state:

Homeschooling Regulations by State

As the above widget reveals:

  • Many states require parents to notify local school districts that their children will be homeschooled, but 11 states don't require parents to alert anyone.

  • Most states have no minimum education requirements for parents who homeschool.

  • Thirty-three states require parents to teach certain subjects. But 22 of these have no means of checking whether they are.

  • The vast majority of states don’t require homeschoolers to be vaccinated.

What is California proposing?

There are two bills in the California State Assembly to reform home-schooling:

  • AB 2756 requires that the state gather more information on homeschooling in California.

  • Assemblymember Susan Eggman’s AB-2926 would mandate the creation of an advisory committee to suggest home-school reforms.

What are home-school advocates saying?

  • Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) sent an email to its members, saying that Eggman’s bill "threatens our private homeschool freedoms in California" and could give the legislature "raw power to regulate private homeschooling, opening up even the possibility of home visits to observe the children and instruction and to inspect the home as the place of instruction."

  • Brian Ray, a homeschool researcher and advocate, told NPR:

"The idea of trying to come up with more laws to stop more people from doing bad things before we even know they're going to do anything bad is not the concept of nation that we have under the U.S. constitution and freedom."

  • Ray published a study on the National Home Education Research Institute which claimed that there is "no mathematical relationship between how much the government controls homeschooling and the amount of abuse."

What regulations are advocacy groups proposing?

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education – which is made up of former home-school children, not parents – has two main policy recommendations:

  • Require parents to send their kids to a doctor's check-up each year.

  • Require home-schooled children to take a standardized test with a professional teacher each year.

"Both of these encounters would provide children with two interactions with mandatory reports annually," Hännah Ettinger, a volunteer and spokesperson for the Coalition, told NPR.

What do you think?

Should home schools be regulated? If so, how? Should there be national education standards? Required tests and medical exams? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: takasuu / iStock)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(225)
  • Crystal
    04/10/2018
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    Yes. There needs to be a way to ensure that children who are homeschooled are 1. Not being harmed by their guardian/s which is easier to observe and report on when a child is attending school, and 2. That children are being given a proper education by someone who at least has achieved a 12th grade education, themselves.

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  • Leo
    04/10/2018
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    There should be some oversight to ensure that the children receive at least the minimum required education, shelter and food.

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  • James
    04/10/2018
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    The ? Is, why haven't they always been regulated, it boggles the mind

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  • Rego
    04/10/2018
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    Yes. We need to make sure kids who are homeschooled are receiving at least a similar education as kids who are not so they will have access to similar opportunities, and we need to ensure that kids who are homeschooled are safe.

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  • Vincent
    04/10/2018
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    No the government doesn’t need to be in everything!!! One of the whole points to homeschooling is it’s more affordable than private school and you don’t have to put your kids in a public school!

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  • JTJ
    04/10/2018
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    Absolutely not. People homeschool because the government ruined public education.

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  • ManfromNebraska
    04/11/2018
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    Home schools should not be regulated by the government. The government just screws up anything it regulates. They have messed up public schools so keep them out of Home schools. Parents are the best governing body of themselves. This is a free country, not a communist or socialist country. The government needs to focus on protecting people not regulating every aspect of people’s lives.

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  • Shannon
    04/10/2018
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    I appreciate what a lot of the "no" comments are saying, about indoctrination and wanting more control over a child's educational environment, however, how do you think you got the views you have? You were indoctrinated to value American values. America doesn't work if it's everyone left to their own devices. Imagine if everyone were home schooled, now liberals don't know any conservatives, Christians, Muslims or Jews, atheists, don't know anybody else, then we're at a point where everyone is a stranger and nobody trusts anybody. That's not a melting pot, that is not E Pluribus Unum. Plus, you know very well that that will be plenty of people who can't possibly educate their own kids properly, even if they had the time and money and didn't have to work. If public school is so bad, imagine what America would be like if our literacy rate plummeted because that's what would happen without public school. How is that making America great? How about you anti public school folks spend your time and energy helping the rest of us get public schools back to being the best in the world instead of giving up? I'm against home schooling except in rare cases such as for a few special needs children, and then it should be supervised. You should also know that teachers are trained to recognize the signs of abuse. Having kids skip out of public school eliminates one of the main ways that child abuse is detected. If you don't like the public schools then you can just pay for private schools with qualified educators if you want, but if it were up to me, home schooling would be outlawed. -- Yours truly, daughter of a public school English teacher.

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  • BeStrong
    04/11/2018
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    The item does not say do you agree with home school as a educational option, it says should it be regulated like school campus environments are. CA already has accountability standards for home schoolers. They are more in control in certain counties. Their bill will standardize their regulation model. Home school, Traditional, Magnet or Private...all should meet basic educational criteria. That makes sense, right?

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  • David
    04/10/2018
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    Yes, homeschooling does need closer attention and regulations to make sure homeschooling isn’t being used as an excuse to alienate a child.

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  • Hugh
    04/11/2018
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    I support a more rigorous system of standards and supervision for homeschooled students and families. Requiring students to complete formal assessments does not equate to banning homeschooling altogether. As a formerly homeschooled student, I recognize that this education option can provide a lot of benefits to children with certain learning styles and educational needs. These opportunities should not be inhibited. However, I also recognize that “homeschooling” can encompass a very wide range of educational decisions and upbringing strategies, some of which are unhealthy. Standardized measures help ensure that homeschooling remains a safe, healthy, positive experience for those who choose to pursue it, while highlighting instances of children who would benefit from institutional or other external support.

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  • RickEberhardt
    04/10/2018
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    Home schooling should be regulated to the extent that all schools are regulated.

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  • Karen
    04/12/2018
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    In my opinion Home Schools should not exist. Citizens of a democratic society should go to school together. Since this is not happening then the least we can do is ensure the same regulations are applied.

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  • J. scott
    06/05/2018
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    Yes home schools should absolutely be regulated especially because they are funded with federal dollars. Nothing else need be said.

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  • NoHedges
    04/10/2018
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    Why so you can force families to send their kids to your failed for profit charter schools? You are currently continuing to dismantle public schools in Arizona,albeit quietly and will most likely continue to do so throughout the nation. Compounding the issue is the very obvious fact that Besty DeVos does not have the expertise or experience to regulate puppy playschool, let alone actual children. And it would seem that neither of our legislative houses does either -given the glaring fact they confirmed DeVos even though she failed miserably during the hearings. So NO get an education yourself first before telling parents how to educate their children. I would suggest you start with a philosophy course in Ethics and another in Logic. Besides Trump rolled back both the good and bad components of Federal educational oversight when he killed Common Core -which like Obamacare wasn't perfect but was a start- Trump ran on a pledge to turn over all education regulations to the authority of the states. You want to regulate homeschooling start in your own backyards. 💥Prove you can provide a comprehensive world-class education comparable what Canadian children receive for 80% of students currently enrolled in the public schools and I will reconsider.

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  • Andy1
    04/11/2018
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    Heavily regulated. Most parents are caring and loving and want the best for their children, but abuse does happen. Home school is an attractive option for the few parents who would seek to conceal that abuse. Also, all children deserve to be well prepared for the world and insulating them from that world, as home schooling often does, does them a disservice.

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  • Poli.Sci
    04/11/2018
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    Absolutely not! Homeschool is meant to be an alternative choice from public and private schooling. I will choose to have my children homeschooled for two reasons: 1. I have been trained to properly teach my child by going through College and gaining a teaching degree and I refuse to have my child taught government crap (especially history and civics, that is the biggest joke ever for the requirements set by the Federal government); 2. With school standards falling greatly, sacrifices to the arts and sports, I will encourage my local school district to grow and in this environment, students are hurt far more than they deserve because of bureaucratic quibbling and can easily be fixed by direct parental education. I believe in public and private schooling, and I also encourage parents to take direct control of their student’s education by homeschooling. It’s not easy and the Federal government DOES NOT have the governing ability or authority to take my right, or anyone else’s, away to homeschool.

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  • Trisha
    04/10/2018
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    Yes. There should be some way to regulate homeschooling. Not only can abuses like this happen but also parents homeschooling their children might try to give their children an unfair advantage. Maybe it should be required that an administrator comes to observe once or twice a year like what they do for teachers in public schools?

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  • Mancos
    04/10/2018
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    Home schooling should be regulated by the state WITH minimum standards set by the federal government to guide the states. If students don’t participate in annual state testing, unannounced, periodic home wellness visits should be required.

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  • Sharyl
    04/10/2018
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    Children are being educated by individuals who may have a degree but may not be effective educators. Even though there are some type of standards it's difficult to determine if they are enforced.

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