Friday, March 25, 2011

Homeschooling and Regulation

 This is an essay I wrote for the scholarship contest from New Threats to Freedom, addressed to the second video, Max Borders on our Compulsive Urge to Regulate.

As a homeschooled teen, I and my family are all for de-regulation as much as possible. We don’t want the government upsetting our basic rights… especially the right to educate one’s children. My mother, as a leader of our local homeschool group, has personally led the efforts against regulation of homeschooling in our state.

In our state of RI, especially in the town my family lives, regulations are fairly low. Homeschoolers are required to send in a letter of intent, once a year, basically declaring  their intent to complete the subjects required by law. That doesn’t stop the districts from attempting to regulate us, though. Last year our town changed their homeschool policy, without informing homeschoolers, as their constituents. Many of our town’s homeschooling parents and their children turned up at the next meeting in protest and they eventually agreed to go back to the old policy.

Many of the regulations, as with regulations on food and health safety, result from the odd mishap or abnormal case, where people react with outrage and the government overreacts to ensure that such a thing never happens again. For instance, recently in a nearby town, the school board declared that homeschool students had to register with all children present. This happened because a “homeschool” mother living in a hotel was using homeschooling as an excuse to keep her children out of school… the family was already on the social service’s radar and was an atypical case. Because of this one woman, who was clearly not the average homeschooler, the town changed its policy and several homeschoolers were visited by the truant officer – before even being informed of the town’s changed policies!

Often the worst opponent of homeschooling are administrators… they would love to micromanage homeschooling, or even get rid of it altogether. What does it say about public schools in general – when a bunch of “amateurs”, regular parents, teach children whose test scores are consistently higher than the average public school student? They say they want to ensure that homeschooled children are well-educated and socially adept.... and I can see why they think this way, but by now they should admit that the evidence points to the contrary – that homeschooled students are polite, sociable, well-educated, and excelling academically.

Basically, all homeschoolers want is to be left alone. We fight very hard against regulation; we don’t want to jump through hoops in order to be allowed to teach our children. We want the freedom to discipline, educate and train our children as we see fit, and not how the State sees fit. If we can’t trust loving parents to do the best for their children, how can we trust a impersonal government to do any better?

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