This word -lax- is used a great deal by the media regarding some homeschool regs. I’ve also seen homeschoolers use the word in describing Illinois homeschooling regs (or lack thereof). Because I think Illinois homeschoolers and others like the idea of educational freedom and don’t really consider that independence a bad thing, I’m laying out the definition of "lax" right here and right now.
From the Encarta Dictionary’s definition of Lax:
1. not strict: not strict or careful enough
2. not tense: not tight or tense
3. physiology with tendency to diarrhea: describes a bowel that is not easily controlled and produces loose feces
4. phonetics pronounced with relaxed muscles: pronounced with the muscles of the jaw relaxed rather than tense, as is the "a" in "hat"
And for all those etymology geeks in the homeschool world: 14th century. < Latin laxus "loose"
I think Illinois private school regs and the set precedents are a high point for educational freedom.
But, yet…I ran into another article (this one from the Detroit News) about loose Michigan education policy:
Michigan law provides little regulation, making physical harm or educational neglect of kids difficult to spot
This article started out describing the horrific death (and life) of Calista Springer. The article states this: "For two years, Springer’s parents claimed their eldest daughter was home-schooled, an assertion police now say was a ruse to hide child abuse. "
Indeed, Calista Springer was not homeschooled, as her parents claimed. She was abused. It’s against the law to abuse children. If people are going to break the law to serve their evil purposes, they’ll use any manner of freedoms to do it in. Usually these few awful cases that always hit big and continuous neon lights highlighting "lax" criminals and children "falling through the cracks" had prior government interventions via Family Services or the police checking the family and house for abuse. Maybe they hadn’t caught up with Calista’s overseers yet.
But the reporter chose to focus on "lax" and "lenient" homeschool laws:
Michigan has one of the most lenient home school laws in the nation, giving tens of thousands of families the freedom to teach their children in the manner they want without government interference. But timid and sporadic enforcement of the law’s minimal requirements has been exploited by some unscrupulous parents hiding abuse or educational neglect.
Because the state is barred from collecting any data on home school students, it’s impossible to know how many parents may be abusing the law or how well those students are doing academically. But at least two deaths can be traced to parents pulling their children from public schools to squelch abuse complaints, authorities say. In both cases, parents claimed they were home schooling their children despite having no books or educational materials in their homes.
Others have used home schooling as an excuse to keep children at home to care for younger siblings or ailing parents, without providing any educational materials.
And the excuse for letting textbooks rot in a warehouse? Specifically, Detroit has a few educational issues like a depository full of books that doesn’t seem to pass the accountability test. (If you want to read more about Detroit educational resources than what the Detroit News chooses to cover, read this.)
Update: agreement from author, Hannah Head and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy regarding the hypocrisy: Safer at Home?
Let me use another Illinois neighbor as an example. A Richmond, Indiana issue came to light recently, and I’ve seen the same done in Illinois. Indiana Home Education Network leader, Ben Bennett, has started a blog and one post illustrates a Richmond educational problem. One might see a pattern of laxity. From Skipping School:
I have had this theory for about two years. I’m also thinking I’m right; because immediately after the accusations against rogue homeschoolers was made, it felt like someone somewhere said, “SHUT UP!”
You see… it really all comes down to motives and means. Is it possible that RCS has a greater motive to “abuse” the “lax regulations” (it’s subjective whether they are ‘lax’ or not) if by doing so, they could slash their dropout rate by over HALF? Maybe it’s just me, but I think a reasonable person might have to agree RCS has more to gain by more than a few troublemakers leaving school.
I wish that in Michigan, Calista had been able to escape this literal hell-hole and live a life with a loving family. She couldn’t. But indeed, and not just as this prosecutor meant: "She’s a tragic example of how the system can be exploited."
Let’s have our tax funded officials take care of the school system exploitation within their bounds, and not assume homeschooling citizens would be anything but loving advocates for their children and their education. We don’t need more laws. We need to enforce the pertinent enacted laws.
Related post regarding pushouts: Pushouts again, as noted in our neighboring state of Indiana