Don’t Burden the Innocent

Ft. Wayne, Indiana had a situation occur that raised some concerns about their state regulations on the subject of homeschooling. Two women took their children out of school, were charged and plead guilty for educational neglect. Indiana homeschools, like Illinois homeschools, are non-public, non-accredited schools that do not require approval to homeschool. 

The prosecutor felt this below was the problem in this case. From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Many who find themselves at odds with welfare or school officials over home schooling are often those trying to shield their children from involvement or interaction with school officials, McAlexander said.
“The last thing we want to do is besmirch those who are doing a good job of educating their kids,” he said

Illinois homeschoolers have heard the same from school officials.  It rings hollow here when the remedy is a 6 page daytime curfew truancy ordinance presented to Salem’s city council by the Regional Office of Education #13.  The Regional Office Superintendent, Keri Garrett, wants to chase down what she calls “no-schoolers” by punishing homeschoolers.  Not surprising is the idea that she would like to chase down homeschoolers too. 

We just can’t win.  Homeschoolers are often accused of closeting our children and keeping them improperly socialized. Northwestern University Law Professor Kim Yuracko wants to check homeschoolers’ “rampant forms of sexism”.  (More from me about “Illiberal Education”- Give me the old timey education

That drumbeat is not just from our own state. Big Journalism pointed out a Georgetown University Law and Philosophy Professor specializing in feminist legal theory is sure –because she said so– we live “in trailer parks, 1,000 square foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots”.  (Seems she has a bias against the homeless and living in small homes or trailers?)

Plus, when our homeschooled children come out from under those tarps and revel in the sunshine and light of the real world, we have to present ids that prove we can move about on our community streets.  That’s doesn’t seem like the American Way. 

The American Way should be a focus on kids’ learning accomplishments.    

An Indiana homeschooler wrote an editorial responding to the Journal Gazette’s opinion piece calling for “a law specifically regulating home schooling”, along with an introduction to “the state’s system of rigorous academic standards”.(Illinois also has no homeschooling regulations.) In order to protect home education, Debbie Harbeson addressed some legitimate issues about the school’s results.

“Why did they choose to leave? What went wrong? Does anyone really think it’s as simple as saying that some parents are so irresponsible that they don’t want their children to be educated?”

I’ve met a few families that the schools have issues with regarding their child’s activities.  Enough of an issue that the school pushed the student out to "homeschool".  I have yet to meet any parent who wanted their child to be ignorant and un-educated. 

Maybe this is the problem that some children contend with in the schools?  From Ms. Harbeson:

“Proposing increased regulation on Indiana home-schoolers as a solution to the concern of irresponsible parents assumes that regulation is a factor in educating a child. 
We already know it’s not, because if it were, our highly regulated and tested public schools would be having no problems at all.”

Maybe we could focus on the bottom line of learning?  Again, from D. Harbeson’s editorial:

“When you passed a test, did you really celebrate because you experienced the innate joy of learning? Or did you wipe the nervous sweat off your brow and immediately move on to the next hoop placed in front of you?
"We say we value individuality, yet we refuse to acknowledge this in education. Even worse, we have loads of evidence demonstrating that it’s often the misfits, the bad test-takers, the restless, etc., who often end up making valuable contributions to the world. Yet we have faith in regulations even when they stifle these individuals.”

It’s this simple.  Leave homeschoolers alone. Or, as Debbie Harbeson put it:

“We need to figure out how to deal with the over-regulation that is causing the public school system to fail rather than trying to put the same burden on home-schoolers who aren’t even spending our tax money.”

Cross posted with some changes at the Illinois Review


Don’t Burden the Innocent — 1 Comment

  1. along with an introduction to “the state’s system of rigorous academic standards”

    When I read this part, I thought about my own state (TN) and their graduation rates as well as their performance on the state tests and the violence in our local (suburban) schools, etc. If it didn’t make me want to cry, I’d laugh. You can have all the “standards” on the books you want and it doesn’t make a difference if you almost never meet them.

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