State board challenged for rejecting homeschool diplomas

Thanks to the intervention of the Home School Legal Defense Association last month, a homeschool graduate in Mississippi previously denied a licensing examination for her desired career can now pursue her dream in the field of cosmetology.

A closer look in a state that ranks 49th in high school graduation rates (68 percent) behind only Nevada, the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology (MSBC) maintained that high school diplomas of homeschoolers – who perform significantly higher on average than conventional students in academic performance – are inferior and insufficient compared with public and private school diplomas.

When a homeschool graduate submitted her diploma to the MSBC in order to receive an application to take the cosmetology licensing examination, the board rejected her request with the explanation that her high school diploma had not been issued by an accredited school.

Acknowledging the propensity of state agencies to discriminate against homeschoolers, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) assisted the homeschool family in challenging the allegedly problematic policy that singled out home learners for discrimination….

By Michael F. Haverluck – One News Now –

Homeschooling Update : Regulations Relaxed

FREEPORT, Pa. — Until recently, Pennsylvania had one of the strictest home-school laws in the nation.

Families keeping their children out of traditional classrooms were required to register each year with their local school district, outlining study plans and certifying that adults in the home did not have a criminal record. At the end of the year, they submitted portfolios of student work to private evaluators for review. The portfolio and evaluator’s report then went to a school district superintendent to approve.

But in October, after years of campaigning by home-schooling families in the state as well as the Home School Legal Defense Association, a national advocacy group, Pennsylvania relaxed some of its requirements.

More than 40 families participate in a home-schooling cooperative at Andrews Air Force Base.

Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma has not decided whether to sign a bill that would withdraw her state from the Common Core standards. Similar legislation is on governors’ desks in Missouri and South Carolina.

“We believe that because parents who make this commitment to teach their children at home are dedicated and self-motivated, there’s just not a real need for the state to be involved in overseeing education,” said Dewitt T. Black III, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has close ties to local Christian home-school associations. Mr. Black wrote an early version of the bill that eventually passed here.

Unlike so much of education in this country, teaching at home is broadly unregulated. Along with steady growth in home schooling has come a spirited debate and lobbying war over how much oversight such education requires.

Eleven states do not require families to register with any school district or state agency that they are teaching their children at home, according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit group that is pushing for more accountability in home schooling. Fourteen states do not specify any subjects that families must teach, and only nine states require that parents have at least a high school diploma or equivalent in order to teach their children. In half the states, children who are taught at home never have to take a standardized test or be subject to any sort of formal outside assessment.

And the movement is growing. Once mainly concentrated among religious families as well as parents who wanted to release their children from the strictures of traditional classrooms, home schooling is now attracting parents who want to escape the testing and curriculums that have come along with the Common Core, new academic standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states.

By Motoko Rich – New York Times –

Homeschooling is an act of defiance that frightens the state.

By Wendy McElroy –

To government, homeschooling resembles a weed that spreads and resists control. To homeschooling parents, it is the flowering of knowledge and values within children who have been abandoned or betrayed by public schools. A great tension exists between the two perspectives. Homeschooling’s continued growth has only heightened it.

The federal government has reacted by attempting to increase its control over homeschooling, for example, by pushing for increased regulation of homeschool curricula. But the federal government is hindered by certain factors. For one thing, education is generally the prerogative of individual states. Nevertheless, the federal government can often impose its will by threatening to withhold federal funds from states that do not comply with its measures.

But homeschooling parents cannot be threatened by a withdrawal of money they don’t receive. As it is, they are paying double. They pay taxes to support public schools from which they draw no benefit and they pay again in homeschooling money and in terms of lost opportunities such as the full-time employment of both parents. The “profit” they receive is a solid education for their children. What they want from the government is to be left alone.

The federal government is also hindered by not being able to play the “it’s for the children” card that justifies so many intrusive policies. Homeschooled children routinely display better development than public school students.

A 2012 article in Education News called the “consistently high placement of homeschooled kids on standardized assessment exams … one of the most celebrated benefits of homeschooling.” Education News compared the quality of homeschooling to that of public schooling. “Those who are independently educated typically score between the 65th and 89th percentile on such exams, while those attending traditional schools average on the 50th percentile. Furthermore, the achievement gaps, long plaguing school systems … aren’t present in the homeschooling environment. There’s no difference in achievement between sexes, income levels, or race/ethnicity.” Studies also indicate that homeschooled children are better socialized with both peers and adults.

It appears the federal government has failed to yank the “weed” of homeschooling. Why does the Obama administration continue to try?

1. Homeschooling is an acute embarrassment to public schools, which do not educate and are rife with abuse. News stories abound of students who are illiterate and who are being abused by teachers or by the police who arrest them for trivial offenses such as burping in class. (See “A List of 19 Children Recently Arrested (July 2013) For Trivial Things.”)

2. Public schools are desperate for funding. The federal government especially wants to pay the expensive union salaries, pensions, and other benefits enjoyed by teachers because unions are one of the administration’s political bases. Since tax dollars are allocated largely according to class attendance, the goal is to force as many children as possible into public schools.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of homeschooled children in 2007 “was about 1.5 million, an increase from 850,000 in 1999 and 1.1 million in 2003.” Homeschooling is currently growing by an estimated 7 percent a year. Each homeschooled child represents a loss of funds to public schools and a threat to teachers’ pensions.

3. The homeschooled child is also an embarrassment to the public schools in economic terms. As Education News explained, “The average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students.” Of course, that doesn’t take into account the wages a parent most forego to homeschool a child, but at least that opportunity cost is borne only by the parent.

4. The federal government wants to weaken political critics. Parents who homeschool usually do so because of religious reasons (38.4 percent), because they can do a better overall job (48.9 percent), or due to objections to the content (21.1 percent) or to the academic quality (25.6 percent) of public schools. They are “dissatisfied customers” who weaken the government’s legitimacy and credibility. Those who choose homeschooling for religious or ideological reasons present an even larger problem because they are likely to dislike other government programs and positions. A clamp-down on homeschooling weakens the influence of critics, preventing them from producing future opponents.

5. Access to children allows the government to inculcate its values. Public schools teach politically correct attitudes; for example, the diversity of race must be embraced but a diversity of ideas should be rejected. Public schools have become venues for social experiments such as the so-called healthy lunch programs championed by Michele Obama even though children often throw them away, preferring to be hungry. Public schools are also experimenting with using students as advocates for government policies. For example, America’s second-largest school district, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), has accepted almost $1 million for a pilot program to train students how to convince their families to enroll in Obamacare.

 
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