Homeschooling began as a solution for kids in rural sections where it was simply easier to be home schooled than to travel to a public school. Now there more than “1.5 Million Home Schooled Students in the United States in 2007” and it is growing at roughly nine percent per year. The reasons for homeschooling are numerous; the effects on individuals and society are great, and regulations are quickly becoming a necessity. This need for regulating homeschooling is becoming more complex because laws that govern it depend on individual state law. Without regulation, the population will eventually be affected in both academic issues and the structure of a stable, integrated society.
In a report by U.S. Department of Education, “1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007,” showed that there are many factors that account for homeschooling. The most notable ones were dissatisfaction with academic instructions (17%), the school environment (21%), and the lack of moral and religious instructions (35%). Another factor for homeschooling was mental, physical and alternative approaches, which accounted for 13% .The most common reasons for homeschooling, are religious beliefs and protection of children from the school environment. In many, public schools religious beliefs are forgotten and unmentioned. If eliminating negative influences is the reason for homeschooling, it possibly makes sense.
The “United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child” (CRC) influences those motivations and their outcomes because it forms international principles and values that all governments worldwide should promote within their districts (Amnesty International, “Convention on the Rights of Child”). Most arguments from political and religious conservatives object that the CRC violates religious freedom and liberal values of providing education in compliance with beliefs and values (Smolin 83).
If the CRC allows the development of individual opinions, any restrictions from legal institutions should not interfere with the process of homeschooling. However, certain issues have been raised in homeschooling because a high amount of students in homeschooling would implicate the functional society if parents do not follow proper teaching methods. The conflict between the regulations proposed by the government and the appeals submitted by people indicate that homeschooling was a popular option before most states increased levels of regulations. A high level of regulation is required because society is often interested in people who can successfully become contributing members to the community.
According to the HSLDA, the United States is divided into four basic levels of regulation. The levels are no notice, low regulation, moderate regulation, and high regulation. (“State Regulations Surrounding Homeschooling”) All have different homeschooling regulations. Recent changes in the legal system indicate that states are no longer willing to trust the parents of children who resort to homeschooling. Instead of resorting to homeschooling as protective measures, regulations strive to improve homeschooling under appropriate conditions and improve the quality of attaining knowledge and achieving proper self-development.
No notice states typically do not require any notices from parents showing their child’s progress. Some no notice states do require the parents to maintain records such as diary logs or academic portfolios showing credible evidence in a written format. Missouri is a no notice state that does require parents to provide 1000 hours of instruction during the year with 600 hours focused on the basis of education. Currently, few no notice states are left when it comes to homeschooling, and most states have passed court ruling that will significantly impact the level of home school monitoring and requirements.
Low regulation states usually require a onetime notification from parents on their children’s academic progress. There are currently fourteen states in the United States that only require a notification from the parent. This keeps the state from being overburdening, but does not properly evaluate a student’s performance to regular education methods. They do require stricter options for homeschooling. For example, using a private tutor and qualifying as a private school are two options on proper homeschooling. If a parent wants to handle the education personally, he/she would need to acquire a teacher certification. Testing the academic progress in low regulation states is usually not obligatory. Twenty percent of the states in the United States do not require any state notification. Although they require no contact with the state, the HSLDA says they are some of the most homeschooling friendly states in the United States. “A fundamental criterion for a state’s homeschool friendliness” (Slater) The HSLDA studies show that homeschooling problems can be caused by an overburdening state. It puts extra stress on both the students and their families. The families are concerned that they need to appear at par with public education, and they often try to portray this image for the state officials that come and visit. There are also many children who study diligently at home, but do not test remarkably well. This puts a lot of undue stress on them and their families. Parents often interpret the testing to reflect they have not been teaching correctly.
Moderate regulations states have added legal options and requirements from parents; for example, Florida requires that the parents provide notice to the local school and log a minimal amount of school days every year with the private school. The parents can qualify their home as an extension of the local private school corporation. These parents must maintain logs and portfolios covering the materials and showing the student’s progress. Lastly they are required to choose standardized tests and have them administered to the student by a certified teacher or a licensed psychologist annually. These states with moderate regulation such as Georgia require parents to send in all basic information about their child. Even though they are attending school at home, attendance records must be kept. The individuals who are teaching the children must have at least a GED high school education. The state only requires one to publish this information once. After knowing what one is doing, one is not required to keep in touch with anyone in the state.
High regulation states have to send notifications or achievement scores with professional evaluations. New York is an example of a high regulation state. Their parents have only one legal option to establish homeschooling. They have to submit a plan that will notify the local school superintendent on their educational material. Each grade has a different standard and the students keep a log. Parents do not need a teacher certificate, but they are required to follow courses that the state stresses as obligatory. Quarterly reports and annual assessments under supervision are obligatory. If a student fails to demonstrate proper academic achievement, the home school program is placed on probation. Students are required to take a SED approved test to see how their education is progressing. State officials also make in-home-visits to meet with the parents and children and evaluate their situation individually. They can also write a negative letter regarding your progress. If another parent writes a letter of concern, a visit from the state would be enacted. This could result in a probation sentence.
Homeschooling does not limit a child to only being educated at home. Children are allowed to participate in their district schools extra circular activities. According to the NYHEN, students are allowed to use the public schools local facilities. This includes the libraries, carrier information center, and gymnasium.
Although it is possible to classify states in compliance with their levels of regulations, states have the freedom to define rules for homeschooling. Furthermore, those classifications are only temporary because states can alter the level of their regulations if they find it necessary. For example, the Associated Press reported that California has surpassed New York in regulation levels because a court ruling suggested that parents without teaching credentials cannot conduct homeschooling for their children (“Court”). Despite the liberal approach of certain states in homeschooling regulations, all states appear to be raising concerns regarding the quality of home school education. Illinois has introduced certain measures to monitor homeschooling because they want to offer assistance to parents and children, but they did not have obligated reporting until 2011 (Leu, “Parents Heated over Potential Home-school Regulations”). Apparently, most states have realized the importance of successful social integration and have seen the difficulties of maintaining a stable social structure if homeschooling remains unmonitored and unregulated.
Dual enrollment is on option where the students attending normal school can go to a college class before they finish high school. This allows them to earn credits toward their college education. According to the NYHEN, students who are home schooled are not allowed to do dual enrollment.
Parents are not required to keep many records of their kid’s progress in homeschooling. “Parents are required to keep attendance records for each student, but there is no legal obligation for them to maintain any other records” (NYHED). The state recommends that parents keep a record of their kid’s progress in school to help when applying for employment. However, there is no legal obligation to these records.
According to the IHIP the level of schooling should coincide with your age. Children should enter the first grade around 6 years old and study material designed for the first grade. This is the same with homeschool students. It is expected that one will be studying at their own pace. However, the overall studies will match the appropriate age grade ratio of regular school.
One opinion on homeschool regulation is found in a book by Rober Kunzman, an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Education. Professor Kunzman was a former high school teacher, coach, and administrator. He is aware that many parents have chosen to homeschool for non-religious reasons; he focused on the serious Christians because he believes those are the ones the professionals worry about the most.
Legal institutions allowed a variety of homeschooling regulations for many reasons, but the most common ones included religious beliefs and protection of children from the school environment. For example, people who appealed to the court ruling in California claimed they wanted their children to hold religious beliefs while public schools were opposing those beliefs. Unfortunately, there is a distinctive line between homeschooling under the impression that traditional approaches do not support maximum efficiency and homeschooling for the purpose of eliminating all negative environmental influences from interacting with children. If eliminating negative influences is a motivation for homeschooling, children are liable to learn more fixed examples, stereotypes, and form more prejudices and discriminations than children who attend public schools.
Parents who aim to protect their children from environmental influences are more frequent than parents who are required to resort to homeschooling. Parents become overprotective, so they damage the child and remove their personal choices and potions rather than providing basic needs and allowing the child to make personal decisions (Smolin 91). In conclusion, the same people who are against the CRC enforce their conservative values on their children and eliminate their personal freedom of choice. Furthermore, the impact of forced homeschooling can be devastating on the student’s socio-psychological development.
According to Beck, several court rulings in Europe have provided more regulations for homeschooling, but from the parents’ perspectives, they are unfair restrictions (“Home Education”). For example, parents who wish to enforce religious training on their children must convey all consequences of that training to their children rather than providing circumstances for them to develop guilt or internal conflict once they integrate in society. Social integration includes social interest and cultural-oriented aspects rather than fixing beliefs and values within one cultural tradition. If regulations did not propose obligatory curriculums and progress evaluations, homeschooling could threaten social unity rather than support the social structural stability (Beck, “Home Education”).
In the article “Three Smart Rules for Home School Regulation,” Matthews claims there is enough material for long-term discussions and adjustments to homeschooling regulations, but the main issues are setting standards suitable for children or society and providing monitoring to ensure those standards are met. Although the level of accountability for religious and protective influences as leading causes for homeschooling suggests different priorities from parents, it is not possible to expect permanent isolation from society. Lack of integration is not productive for the society, but it is also dangerous for the psychological development of children. Although Stevens suggests that government skepticism is rather a form of demonstrating authority than working for the benefit and liberal rights of homeschooling education (95), strict regulations regarding homeschooling and its curriculum must exist. Based on most motivations for homeschooling, monitoring and regulations are the only method to achieve those objectives.
If regulation and monitoring did not exist, children would likely fail with social integration and tolerance. Parents could become over protective and hinder a child’s socio and psychological development and integration into society. Potentially a child’s ability to learn to make personal decisions would be damaged. Social unity could become the norm and issues of blending into the world could develop. Discrimination and prejudice against individuals who were different could become the norm. Based on most reasons for homeschooling regulations, monitoring and required regulations are the only safe pathway to protect against potentially disastrous societal results.
Amnesty International. “Convention on the Rights of Child: Frequently Asked Questions.” AmnestyUSA.org. Amnesty International, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
Associated Press. “Court: Parents Must Have Teaching Credentials to Home School Kids.” FoxNews.com. Fox News, 6 March 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
Beck, Christian W. “Home Education and Social Integration.” Critical Social Studies 2(2008): n. pag. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
“Home Schooling.”DESE.MO.gov. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
Leu, Melissa. “Parents Heated over Potential Home-school Regulations.” StatehouseNewsOnline.com. Illinois Statehouse News, 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
Matthews, Jay. “Three Smart Rules for Home School Regulation.”WashingtonPost.com. The Washington Post. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
Smolin, David M. “Overcoming Religious Objections to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Emory International Law Review 20.1(2006): 81-110. Print.
“State Regulations Surrounding Homeschooling.”MathandReadingHelp.org. Math & Reading Help, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
U. S. Department of Education. “1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007.”NCES.Ed.gov. Institute of Education Sciences, December 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
Stevens, Mitchell L. “The Normalization of Homeschooling in the USA.” Evaluation & Research in Education 17.2-3 (2003): 90-100. Print.
Robert Kunzman “Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling.”