IAHE Action Letter to State Board of Education Regarding Diploma Changes

Due the School to Prison Pipeline debacle where schools inappropriately encouraged students to “homeschool” even though they did not have parental support, we have serious concerns about the potential change in diploma requirements that will make it even more difficult for struggling students to earn a public high school diploma. We believe these students’ educational issues begin long before high school, and we are concerned more will be inappropriately encouraged to “homeschool” if they cannot receive a Core 40 diploma.   

IAHE Action sent a letter to the State Board of Education (SBOE) with our concerns:

December 4, 2017

Indiana State Board of Education

200 West Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Members  of the Board:

You are all most certainly aware of the Indiana Constitution’s provision for public education. It states: “it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual scientific, and agricultural improvement.” Furthermore, it declares the system should be uniform and open to all.

Unfortunately, it has become quite clear our current public system is not uniform and certainly not open to all. When the Indianapolis Star reports numbers like only 44% of white, 29% of Latino and a ghastly 22% of black Hoosier fourth graders are reading proficient, it is self-­‐evident we are failing kids well before graduation. The focus on different diploma pathways seems a poor substitute for problems that start well before a child enters his freshman year.

Often our sister organization, Indiana Association of  Home  Educators (IAHE), receives phone calls from parents of children around 3rd   grade wanting to learn more about home education and, more specifically, reading help for their struggling reader. IAHE’s online Facebook groups receive inquiries for reading curriculum recommendations at least once a week if not more. Many parents quickly discover their child is dyslexic and needs an entirely different method of instruction than received in the public schools. Data from the Indianapolis Star only confirms the trend we see in the homeschool world.

The frequency of the above equation causes us to ask what happens to the kids who do not have parental support at home? Are these the kids who have behavior problems? Are these the kids who are being pushed out of the government school system because they score poorly on exams?  What happens when the parent is unable or incapable of giving a student the education the Indiana Constitution demands? What responsibility does the public education system have towards those parents and children? According to the state constitution, the public education system is constitutionally obligated to provide appropriate instruction for those children, too.

IAHE Action has spent the better part of the last two years grappling with the School to Prison Pipeline. While the point of the study was to focus on minority populations in the public education system, incorrect testimony regarding the state of Indiana homeschooling was submitted. We found ourselves in the midst of this issue because so many school administrators had begun pushing their poor performers and behavior problems into homeschooling to better protect their A-F ratings and graduation rates.  If this is already a problem, why is our supposedly uniform system that is open to all creating an even greater incentive to leave the public education system?  A student, who was never given the appropriate tools and cannot attain the standards set forth in these diplomas, is forced to flee the system in hopes of finding a means to other education.  Coercing student departure through a series of “requirements” does not fulfill the vision our Constitution lays before the State Legislature or the State Board of Education.

IAHE Action believes the root of the push out and drop out problems begins around third grade. Once kids receive effective, science-­‐basedreading instruction in early elementary school many of the issues that develop in high school may ultimately resolve themselves.

Sincerely,

Alison J. Slatter

Member, Board of Directors

IAHE Action



IAHE Action is a 501c4 organization and donations are not tax deductible. Our efforts are possible by the donations from our generous supporters.

Milton Friedman and Conservatives: Wrong on Education

The original post by Jacob G. Hornberger may be found on The Future of Freedom Foundation blog.  Republished with permission.

Once upon a time, some conservatives used to call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education. Lamentably, conservatives today celebrate when a “free-market advocate” like multimillionaire Betsy DeVos is appointed U.S. Secretary of Education, and they get terribly excited when she speaks at conservative conferences.

Meanwhile, even while conservatives continue to pronounce their allegiance to their favorite mantra — “free enterprise, private property, limited government” — they continue to embrace not only public schooling itself but also their favorite public-schooling fix-it program, school vouchers.

Over the years, conservatives have developed various labels for their voucher program: a “free-market approach to education,” “free enterprise in education,” or “school choice.” They have chosen those labels to make themselves and their supporters feel good about supporting vouchers.

But the labeling has always been false and fraudulent. Vouchers are nothing more than a socialist program, no different in principle from public schooling itself.

The term “free enterprise” means a system in which a private enterprise is free of government control or interference. That’s what distinguishes it from a socialist system, which connotes government control and interference with the enterprise.

A voucher system entails the government taxing people and then using the money to provide vouchers to people, which they can then redeem at government-approved private schools.

Does that sound like a system that is free from government control or interference? In reality, it’s no different in principle from food stamps, farm subsidies, Social Security, or any other welfare-state program. The government is using force to take money from Peter and giving it to Paul. That’s not “free enterprise.” That’s the opposite of free enterprise.

Conservatives say that their voucher system is based on “choice” because the voucher provides recipients with “choices.” But doesn’t the same principle apply to recipients of food stamps, farm subsidies, Social Security, and other socialist programs? Sure, the recipient of the loot has more choices because he has more money at his disposal. But let’s not forget that the person from whom the money was forcibly taken has been deprived of choices. After all, after a robber commits his dirty deed, he too has more choices with the money he has acquired. His victim, on the other hand, has been deprived of choices. 

In FFF’s first year of operation, 1990, I wrote an article entitled “Letting Go of Socialism,” in which I pointed out that school vouchers were just another socialist scheme, one that was intended to make public schooling work more efficiently.

Imagine my surprise to receive a critique from none other than Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who is the father of the school voucher program. Friedman leveled his critique in a speech he delivered that was entitled “Say No to Intolerance,” in which he took to task such libertarian stalwarts as Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand for adhering to principle.

Interesting enough, Friedman’s speech was recently reprinted in an issue of the Hoover Digest, a premier conservative publication. You can read it here.

Friedman’s critique of my article was nice enough. First pointing out that FFF was doing “good work and making an impact,” he addressed my criticism of vouchers:

But am I a statist, as I have been labeled by a number of libertarians, because some thirty years ago I suggested the use of educational vouchers as a way of easing the transition? Is that, and I quote Hornberger again, “simply a futile attempt to make socialism work more efficiently”? I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that you can simply say what the ideal is. This is what I mean by the utopian strand in libertarianism. You can-not simply describe the utopian solution, and leave it to somebody else how we get from here to there. That’s not only a practical problem. It’s a problem of the responsibilities that we have.

With all due respect to a Nobel Prize winner and a true gentleman, Milton Friedman was wrong on education then, and conservatives who continue to support vouchers are wrong today.

Notice something important, a point that conservatives have long forgotten: Friedman justified vouchers as a way to get rid of public schooling. For him, vouchers were a “transition” device — i.e., a way to get from here to there, with “there” being the end of public schooling.

That’s not what conservatives say today. They justify vouchers by saying that they will improve, not destroy, the public-schooling system. I can’t help but wonder what Friedman would say about that if he were still alive, given that his support of vouchers was based on the notion that it would serve as a way to get rid of public schooling. Would he still support vouchers if he knew that they would save public schooling and make it more efficient?

Why did conservatives end up rejecting Friedman’s justification? They came to the realization that some people would be less likely to support vouchers if they were told that their real purpose was to destroy public schooling. Therefore, to get more people to support vouchers, conservatives shifted Friedman’s justification to the exact opposite of what Friedman was saying. Conservatives began telling people that vouchers, by providing “competition,” would improve the public-schooling system. In fact, voucher proponents today, when pressed, will openly tell people that they are opposed to abolishing public schooling but only want to make it better by providing people with the means (vouchers) to leave the public-schooling system.

Almost 30 years after Friedman leveled his critique at me, there is not one instance of where his system of school vouchers have served as a “transition” to educational liberty. Time has confirmed the point I pointed out almost three decades ago — that school vouchers, no matter how they are labeled, are nothing more than a socialistic program designed to make socialism (i.e., public schooling) work more efficiently.

Friedman and conservatives have been proven wrong on education. There is only one solution to the educational morass in which Americans find themselves: Separate school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. Repeal all school compulsory-attendance laws and school taxes and sell off the school buildings. End all government involvement in education, including licensing of schools. Establish a total free-market educational system.

For more information on this issue, see FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families by Sheldon Richman.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.c

om and from Full Context. Send him email.

IAHE Action is funded by the donations of our generous supporters. As a 501c4 organization, donations to IAHE Action are NOT tax deductible.

Are Indiana’s Proposed Graduation Pathways Problematic for Home Educators?

IAHE Action has monitored the work of the Graduation Pathways Panel. In 2015, there were efforts to update diploma requirements which were later abandoned after pushback from the special needs community. IAHE had a concern at that time about the influence of Common Core. It seemed to many the focus of state education had switched to workforce development instead of academic instruction.  Upon further inquiry from Superintendent Ritz’ Department of Education, the info they sent led IAHE to believe that in order to meet the diploma guidelines, career type classes would be required that could not be provided at home. Homeschoolers found this to be alarming, so concerns were shared with the State Board of Education and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. The Commission assured IAHE that there was no intention to undermine the ability of home educators to meet requirements via a parent at home or to provide a non-accredited, nonpublic diploma.

Currently, in November 2017, the Graduation Pathways Panel is completing work on a new public education diploma. To be clear, home educators are not bound by these requirements. We do want homeschoolers to be aware of the new requirements because colleges may decide to prefer those requirements when choosing applicants.

Here is the latest draft.  

We sought the outside opinion of Home School Legal Defense Association and their high school consultants about this issue. They concur that although we may not agree with the State that the pathway requirements are a good idea, homeschool students are able to complete the same prerequisites. Remember, Indiana allows non-accredited, non-public schools to set their own guidelines.

Colleges are different, and they usually don’t change to meet high school requirements. A college-bound student must meet the university’s guidelines. It’s a sad commentary on public education in Indiana that the State now believes in order to be prepared for college, their students are encouraged to take dual enrollment classes in high school instead of focusing on mastery of each high school level subject. These requirements for publicly educated graduates could affect competitiveness for homeschoolers as they seek college admittance if they don’t follow suit.

We continue to have a concern that the schools will push students who need extra educational assistance into home education whether or not their parents are in the position to take on the legal responsibility of home education.  Contact IAHE Action if you hear of it.

There is only so much time in the day. Counting work experience or workforce training as a graduation requirement instead of solely focusing on academics may limit a student’s future options. A well-rounded, solidly academic student is prepared for all of life and will not be limited in the same way as one that’s been pigeon-holed with specific job training.

The final meeting of the Graduation Pathways Panel is November 7, 2017 at the State Library, History Reference Room 211, 315 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202, from 9:00AM to 12:00PM (ET).

As a concerned citizen, if you’d like to leave a comment about the proposals, contact: gradpathways_comment@sboe.in.gov.

As a 501c4 organization, donations to IAHE Action are NOT tax-deductible. We are funded by the generosity of our donors. THANK YOU for partnering with us as we seek to keep Indiana homeschoolers free.

 

 

A Brief History of Indiana Homeschool Freedom

Here’s a timeline of some issues that have affected Indiana home educators through the years. It’s a reminder that our liberty to educate our children at home is precious and must be continually guarded. Thank you for standing with IAHE and IAHE Action.

1904 – Indiana has the nation’s earliest homeschool court ruling in State v. Peterman. Essentially, the court said that a school at home is a private school. The court defined a school as “a place where instruction is imparted to the young. . . . We do not think that the number of persons, whether one or many, make a place where instruction is imparted any less or any more a school.”

1980’s –  Most Hoosiers thought that either, 1.) Home education was illegal, or 2.) Home education required approval from the State of Indiana, or at least the local school superintendent. Local school districts, truancy officers, and county prosecutors harassed homeschool families.

1983Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) was founded by a Marion County judge, his wife, and two other couples to encourage and support homeschool families, maintain visibility as home educators with civil government leaders, influence the legislative process to protect our freedom to home educate, publish information of interest for home educators, and sponsor seminars and events to encourage families. It’s one of the earliest state homeschool organizations in the nation.  

1985 – In Mazanec v. North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation a federal district court recognized that parents have the constitutional right to educate their children in a home environment. The court wrote concerning the qualifi­cations of homeschool parents that, “it is now doubtful that the requirements of a formally licensed or certified teacher . . . would pass constitu­tional muster.

1989 – A statewide meeting of superintendents was held with the goal of curtailment of home education. Local superintendents required an intrusive several page questionnaire to determine if homeschool families would “be allowed to homeschool.” A federal civil rights lawsuit was threatened which slowly ended the practice after 3 or 4 years.

1994HR 6 required all teachers in America to be certified in each and every course they teach. IAHE joined HSLDA and other state homeschool organizations to defeat it with over 20,000 phone calls from angry homeschoolers.

1995 – President Clinton signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the ChildIt is still waiting to be ratified by the Senate, and it will give a parent’s rights to the government.

1996 – There was an unsuccessful attempt to add to law the following sentence, “Parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children.” It was met with great resistance and sent to an interim study committee where an IAHE Board member testified.

1998 – A federal law opened doors for homeschoolers to enter military service.

1998 – A day-time curfew was proposed in Columbus, IN. Homeschoolers and others fought it because it violated the 4th & 5th amendments to the US Constitution.

2003 – The Indiana “Education Roundtable” had a draft plan with the potential to dramatically undercut the ability of private school students, including homeschoolers, to choose their own curriculum, be admitted to college and get scholarships and financial aid. Homeschoolers’ calls helped make satisfactory changes.

2003 –  The City of Mishawaka gave a homeschool parent these unlawful guidelines:   “Guidelines For Home Study,” parents must:

1) Substantiate that they will provide equivalent instruction;
2) Initiate contact with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE);
3) Obtain a “school number” from the Department of Education;
4) File a “notice of intent;”
5) Acknowledge that the notice of intent is binding for one year;
6) Disclose each subject the child will be taught;
7) Disclose the “performance objectives” for each subject;
8) Disclose the name, qualifications, and experience, of every
teacher; and
9) Submit a daily instructional schedule indicating how many minutes
are taught each day in each subject.
10) In case parents are not sure how much time they should spend
teaching their own children, Mishawaka thoughtfully provides
recommended time allotments. According to the collective wisdom of
their school officials, for example, a third grader should receive
precisely 105 minutes per week in “motor skills development and
health/safety education.”

Homeschoolers refused to submit to the unauthorized requirements, and the city apologized for the distribution of obsolete guidelines.  

2004 – a Senate bill allowed the principal to refuse to consent to the withdrawal even if the parent intends to provide equivalent instruction.  “It would have given a principal the authority to refer the
family to a prosecuting attorney who will conduct an investigation against the family merely for the principal’s “disbelief” that the family is providing their children with “equivalent” instruction to that given in the public schools. The family must prove to the
satisfaction of the prosecuting attorney that they are providing
instruction that is “equivalent” to the instruction provided in the
public schools. If not, the parent may be prosecuted for truancy.

Not only would this bill limit homeschooler’s freedom to construe the term
“equivalent instruction,” but it also gives a principal the power to
question a home education program’s “equivalency” on his or her
impulse.”

2005 – House Bill 1530 would increase the compulsory school attendance age from 18 to 19. This bill creates one more year of state “monitoring” of children. IAHE worked to helped remove harmful provisions in the bill.

2006 – House Bill 1347 made it a crime for your children to be out in public or drive a car during public school hours. Homeschool calls helped remove curfew provisions.

2006 – A Terre Haute Senator in a thinly-veiled attack on homeschooling asked the Indiana Senate to create a committee to “examine the need for establishing homeschool guidelines.”

2007 – A bill required all private schools to report whether girls between the ages of 11 to 12 have been immunized against four types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that are mainly transmitted by sexual contact. The bill was amended to exempt “homeschools”.  It is a slippery slope to use the word “homeschool”.

2011 – Indiana Supreme Court held in Barnes v. State that an individual has no right to reasonably resist by force the unlawful entry into his home by a police officer.

2012 – IN SB 384 House Amendment 3 required homeschool parents to
submit an educational plan before withdrawing their children from high school. Massive pushback from homeschoolers defeated the amendment.

2012 – A forum was hosted by the Indiana School Board
Association and the Indiana Association of Public School
Superintendents. Glenda Ritz, a candidate for the
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, was asked, “Do you think 
policy needs to be changed on homeschooling?” 

Her response, “We don’t have any policy on homeschooling in Indiana. We need some policy on homeschooling. It’s actually being abused in many cases. I have heard of students being withdrawn by their parents to take care of an aging grandparent and getting absolutely no schooling at home. There are no regulations at all regarding it. So, yeah, we need some policy on homeschooling.” The crowd erupted in cheers.

Although Indiana does not have a homeschool statute, home schools are classified as non-accredited, non-public schools due to case law as they are in many other states. Homeschoolers must provide an equivalent education taught in the English language, keep attendance records, and teach for the same number of days as their local public school which is generally 180 days.  If a parent does not provide this education, Indiana Code has educational neglect and truancy laws that should be enforced. All Hoosiers are mandatory reporters. If someone is aware of a parent that is not providing an education according to state law, he or she should report it instead of demanding increased regulations for law-abiding homeschoolers.

2012-2013“751,366 or 4.5 million. That is the number of instructional days and hours 102,030 students in Indiana lost during the 2012-2013 school year due to suspension and expulsion. Almost 1 in 10 students were suspended or expelled that year.”*

2013 – Governor Pence mentions home education as an equal alternative to other forms of education in his State of the State address. “We have to put kids first and ensure that every child in Indiana has access to a world-class education at public school, public charter school, private school or home.” Gov. Pence January 22, 2013

2013 – IN SB 171 was a grandparent/great-grandparent rights bill that allowed the courts to intervene in an INTACT family to determine who may have access to your children for visitation rights. IAHE testified against it, and the bill did not become law. Unfortunately, IAHE Action must continue to testify against it in future years.

2013 – IC 20-33-2-28.5 requires a high school dropout to lose his driver’s license. The General Assembly told IAHE some families claim to “homeschool” in order to keep the student’s license but actually do not provide an education. IAHE worked with the General Assembly to develop a form to be used only for those currently in a high school which the parent must sign that states he or she understands the legal requirements to provide a home education. The State will prosecute parents who falsely claim to homeschool instead of regulating all homeschoolers.

2013 – IAHE was invited to the Governor’s office for a bill signing ceremony for efforts related to repealing Common Core in Indiana. Unfortunately, the new Indiana standards are remarkably similar to Common Core.  

2014 – An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Southwest Taskforce Newsletter stated, “Please report children that you think should be in school. Call 911 and ask for an officer to check on the children. Truancy is a growing concern to all of us. We need to find these children and determine which school they should be attending.” Needless to say, this advice alarmed many homeschool families. IAHE and HSLDA visited the IMPD Southwest, and our attorney spoke to the task force members about home education.

2014 – A bill was caught in third reading. The source of the language was frustrated public school administrators who struggle to fulfill their responsibilities in a declining market. The bill originated in a Local Government Committee and called for the “oversight of homeschooling.” Rapid “behind the scenes” action stopped the bill in its tracks.  

2014 – The Interim Study Committee on Education met to discuss a federally funded preschool grant. IAHE was the only one to publicly testify against it and submitted a detailed report about early childhood education concerns with a particular emphasis related to accepting federal dollars for preschool. Governor Pence surprised everyone after the hearing when he decided not to apply for the funds. 

2015Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society, Inc. (FACES) homeschool group received a final ruling from a discrimination case that began in 2008. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that FACES did not violate Indiana Civil Rights Code.

2015 – Families across Indiana received a letter from the state Department of Health informing them that their children had not been vaccinated against the Human papillomavirus (HPV). IAHE worked with the Governor’s office to determine a parent may opt-out of the vaccination registry.

2015 – IAHE was invited to the Governor’s bill signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but the law was amended a week later. Religious liberty is one pillar of home education liberty. Parental rights are the second pillar. Both are under attack.

 

 

2015 – In addition to its focus on education to help Indiana home educators have a solidly academic home school, IAHE as a 501c3 organization may do limited advocacy work. Over the past few years, IAHE noticed an uptick in threats to Indiana homeschool liberty, so IAHE Action, as a 501c4 sister organization, was formed to be able to do unlimited lobbying and a limited amount of political work to better protect home education liberty and parental rights.  

2015 – December 15, 2015 – IAHE contacted the Indiana Department of Education for homeschool numbers for the past five years: 2010 – 8318; 2011 – 8530; 2012 – 6983; 2013 – 5691; 2014 – 4257   Note: Due to voluntary and infrequent reporting the numbers of homeschools students are not 100% accurate.

2013-2016 – IAHE received a considerable amount of calls from parents who claimed the school reported their child as enrolled as a homeschooler and gave them IAHE’s phone number.  After IAHE Regional Representatives explained homeschooling requirements to the parent, the parent decided home education was not a good fit for their particular situation. The parent was referred back to their school or the IDOE for other options. Were they ever removed from the Indiana Department of Education homeschool roster? We doubt it. 

Additionally, parents called IAHE and said the school signed them up for something, and they did not know what it was, but they were given IAHE’s number to call.  Teens who wanted to homeschool but had no parental support called IAHE as well. Some had been expelled, and others told IAHE there is “too much drama at school to learn.” IAHE referred them to their school or the IDOE for more appropriate options since home education is parent-directed.

2016 – During testimony for a School Choice bill in the House Education Committee, the principal of an alternative school in northern Indiana was there to testify and claimed that they are serving many needy students including “homeschool dropouts”. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has data that reports 10,000 students a year or 30,000 public school students for the past three years have transferred to homeschool.

2016 – An individual who testified at the School to Prison Pipeline hearing told the IAHE Director of Government Affairs: “If we can make homeschoolers register, teach them how to homeschool, monitor their homeschool, buy their curriculum and test them, homeschooling will work for the dropouts.” 

Of course, that would be a total redefinition of home education here in Indiana where an engaged parent chooses to take complete responsibility for their child’s education to avoid the government’s involvement, so they can provide a superior education.

2016 – IAHE, IAHE Action, and HSLDA defended Indiana homeschoolers before the Indiana Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights after testimony claimed the School to Prison Pipeline supposedly included “homeschoolers”. Instead of expulsion or suspension that would harm a school’s A-F grade, some principals encouraged students to “homeschool.” In fact, we have since learned that each student who exits a public school is informed about every educational option including home education even though they may not be a good candidate due to lack of parental support. We are told a number of “homeschoolers” have ended up in correctional facilities.

2016 – IAHE Action was told a bill was drafted to require homeschool registration. Fortunately, it was not introduced.

2017 – In the House Education Committee, it is claimed that 13,000 students have exited the public schools to “homeschool” each year for the past three years.

The Indiana House and Senate Education Committees attempted to curtail the practice of schools pushing “problem” students into “homeschooling”IAHE testified about the phone calls their Regional Representatives received from parents who were inappropriately referred to IAHE to begin home education. They defended legitimate law-abiding homeschoolers.  

Schools now must provide proof, if requested by the IDOE, that the parent initiated homeschooling. For decades in order to avoid truancy charges, IAHE recommended a parent write a letter to the school when they transfer their child to home education. Since schools reported students’ enrollment as a homeschooler without a parent truly comprehending the required legal responsibilities, it is now recommended the letter be sent certified and a copy kept in the permanent records at home as proof a parent actually sent it.

2017 – IN HB 1591 was an Education Savings Account voucher type bill which included homeschoolers. It was the “carrot to control”. The concern was that it would encourage the practice of pushing problem students into home education since they would be “government-funded”, and it would be the beginning of two classes of homeschoolers: state-approved and non-state approved. Indiana already had 50 cases of homeschool discrimination in 2016 and 37 in 2017. 

Parents could be “approved” providers. Although only vague additional rules and regulations were mentioned in the bill, it did not specifically mention assessments. The author of the bill posted on his Facebook page that there would be assessments to “make sure parents are giving taxpayers their monies worth.” The bill did not receive a hearing due to the response of homeschoolers.

2017 – The IAHE Director of Government Affairs was offered a seat on the Commission for Improving the Status of Children in Indiana’s Educational Outcomes Task Force because home education is often discussed particularly due to the School to Prison Pipeline issue. We are grateful the State has given home educators an opportunity to contribute our perspective as state agencies attempt to work through difficult issues.

Protecting homeschool liberty is a continual effort.

“If homeschoolers do not remain active, we will not remain free. It’s that simple.” ~ Michael Farris.

 

As a 501c4 organization, donations to IAHE Action are NOT tax-deductible.
IAHE Action is funded by our generous donors. 
THANK YOU for partnering with us to protect home education liberty in Indiana!

*Flier from the Children’s Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana. Other information for this post was retrieved from eyewitnesses, The IAHE Informer magazine, the IAHE, HSLDA, and IAHE Action websites.

 

 

The Alliance Calls for National Homeschool Day of Prayer

As we pray for New York, the most highly regulated state in the nation, regarding the details below, let us also pray for Indiana homeschoolers. Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) and IAHE Action have been dealing with issues related to the School to Prison Pipeline since early 2016. Indiana has school discipline and truancy issues. 751,366 or 4.5 million. That is the number of instructional days and hours 102,030 students in Indiana lost during the 2012-2013 school year due to suspension and expulsion. Almost 1 in 10 students were suspended or expelled that year.”* Instead of expulsion or suspension that would harm a school’s A-F grade, some students were encouraged to “homeschool.” We are told a number of “homeschoolers” have ended up in correctional facilities.

IAHE has taken many phone calls from families who said the school reported their student’s enrollment as a homeschooler with the Indiana Department of Education. When IAHE provided the family with an explanation of what is legally required by law to homeschool, they decided that was not a suitable option for them. Where they ever removed from the roster of homeschoolers? We doubt it. Read more here

Some would like to use this public school created issue as a springboard to increase homeschool regulations. Pray for the discernment of those in positions of authority to know the difference between a law-abiding homeschooler and others who are not homeschooling without adding undue regulations on law-abiding homeschoolers. Ask the Lord to provide wisdom to IAHE and IAHE Action as we deal with the State about this concern. Pray our financial needs will be met as we spend resources to defend home education in Indiana.

Sincerely,
IAHE and IAHE Action

The Alliance (The National Alliance of Christian Homeschool Leadership) has declared November 3, 2017, to be National Homeschool Day of Prayer. Support us! We will be praying for the needs of New York homeschoolers, the most oppressed in the nation. New York Loving Education At Home (NYS LEAH) leadership has shared their prayer concerns with us at the Alliance. They are stated below.

Background:

New York is the most regulated state in America. Homeschool families must submit seven different documents to their school district annually, for each child. The regulations are overseen by the NY State Education Department (SED) and administered by the Superintendent of Education of each of the hundreds of school districts across New York. This causes great stress upon and even oppression of homeschool families as they work through the varying requirements. They need and deserve relief.

Prayer Needs:

  • This is a spiritual battle. Pray for victories in the spiritual realm that will result in victories on earth.
  • November 3rd and 4th is LEAH’s leaders’ meeting. Pray for strength and power for these saints.
  • Pray that God will raise up more laborers to share the vision and more resources to meet the challenges.
  • This fall, LEAH is attempting to force needed legislation out of committee for a vote. Pray for the favor in the halls of power, for wisdom, for protection, and for victory.
  • Homeschoolers in many districts are oppressed by regulators. Pray that homeschoolers will have the wisdom, the courage, and the right information to counter these attacks successfully.
  • With the aid of HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association), several NY homeschoolers have filed a lawsuit against the City of New York and its Education Department to stop the harassment. Pray for wisdom and insight for the legal team, and that the outcome of this lawsuit will have a statewide impact and improve the homeschooling environment for all.

This day of prayer is being supported by:

The Alliance (The National Alliance of Christian Homeschool Leadership)

HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association)

Alliance State Affiliates

#homeschooldayofprayer*Flier from the Children’s Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana.

As We Were Saying

Recently, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, was on a panel at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Public Education with former Superintendents, Glenda Ritz and Suellen Reed.

Dr. McCormick called for increased accountability measures for charter and private schools that accept taxpayer funded vouchers. Her hope is that all schools that receive taxpayer funding will have the same “academic and financial scrutiny as traditional public schools.” She wants to make certain students receive a quality experience for their education.  

Currently, according to the EdChoice publication, The ABCs of School Choice, these are requirements for Indiana taxpayer-funded voucher schools:

IC 20-51-1-4

  • Be accredited by either the state board or a national or regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the state board.
  • Comply with health and safety codes
  • Must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin*
  • Conduct criminal background checks on employees
  • Administer the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) program and report to the state data for A-F ratings including ISTEP scores and graduation rates

To remain eligible to accept new scholarship students, a school must not be rated as D or F for two or more consecutive years

  • Must grant the state full access to its premises for observing classroom instruction and reviewing any classroom instructional materials and curriculum
  • Provide civic and character education and display related historical documents [3]

*There has been a discussion regarding discrimination by Congresswoman Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts about an Indiana Christian voucher accepting school and a recent effort in Nevada to broaden this to include gender.

If Dr. McCormick has her way, there would be even greater regulations and private schools will look increasingly like public schools. Homeschoolers need to take this to heart whenever a legislator assures our community that ESAs will cause no harm to our liberty. Once the camel’s nose is under the tent, it is very difficult to keep him out. 

In a similar vein, Heartland Institute’s Teresa Mull shared the money quote in her article, “Ending Government Schools Does Not Mean Ending Public Education.” Delivering families access to alternative forms of education—whether it be in the form of online classes, learning therapies, homeschool textbooks, tutoring, or private schools—is the purpose of tax-credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and vouchers, all of which are forms of “public education,” since public tax dollars fund the programs.”

As we’ve shared with homeschoolers, a new public school system is being built. We first noticed it as we read quotes from early reformers from the 1990’s. The question for homeschoolers who worked so hard to have the liberty to teach their children as they see fit, do you want to be sucked back into the public school system? We’ve seen what has happened to it over the past 50 years. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. ~ John Adams

Should the Government Be the Ultimate Authority for Your Child?

A full episode that exposes the idea that the government should have the ultimate control of a child’s education and upbringing instead of the parents may be found on “Michelle Malkin Investigates” on CRTV.com.  They have shared this clip as a teaser, but it gives us a glimpse of how a number of individuals view the role of parents in a very low regard and elevate the role of government. Unfortunately, many with these views can be found working in government or other areas of influence.  Yes, even here in Indiana.  Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute is the second man in the video who refutes the first man’s position.

Support IAHE Action as we are on the front lines at the Indiana Statehouse defending the proper and traditional role of parents in the education and upbringing of your children.  As a 501c4, donations are NOT tax deductible.

 

 

 

Lowering Compulsory School Age and Mandatory Kindergarten; Oh, my!

In the past week, the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, has called for legislation during the 2018 session of the Indiana General Assembly to lower the compulsory school age to six and to make kindergarten mandatory. The Democrats attempted to push similar legislation in 2015 that would have lowered the compulsory school age.

Are Your Children Missing?

She states that the government via public education is “missing a big chunk of kids.” We must never forget the original purpose for Common Schools (government-run schools). According to E.G. West, the author of Education and the State, public education’s purpose is to serve those who chose not to take responsibility for educating their own children.

As our sister organization, Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE), has noted on their blog, many are frustrated by the public schools and have decided to educate their own children.  Could these be some of the “missing chunk” of children?  IAHE has noticed what appears to be a large influx into the homeschool community as noted by calls and inquiries they receive about home education. They took a survey to see why parents had decided to remove their child from a traditional school setting to home school.

At-risk Families Put All Families At Risk

The Tribune Star article about the call for mandatory kindergarten states, [Indiana] “has 7,000 children who don’t take advantage of kindergarten, and of those, 5,000 are considered at-risk, she said. When they start formal schooling, those children face many disadvantages.” In case you are wondering the type of children who are “at-risk”, they may be children who are served by the Department of Child Services, Family and Social Services, the Department of Corrections, or the juvenile justice system.  

Unfortunately, if the compulsory school age is lowered and kindergarten becomes mandatory to force these families to put their child in school at an earlier age, it will affect homeschoolers, too. Government typically paints with a broad brush. Homeschoolers will be forced to begin formal education at an earlier age.

Homeschoolers take the view that education begins at birth, although they may not begin “formal” education until years later. Currently, in Indiana, that is age seven. A number of legislators have bemoaned the fact that there is a “gap” between pre-school and age seven and have hoped to close it.

Could Delayed “Formal” Education Actually Be Beneficial?

In a review of recent ISTEP scores, it appears a number of scores dropped between grades 3-8 and grade 10. Is it true in your area? Check out the results here. Could it be many students are burnt out with formal education and have lost their love of learning?

Homeschoolers are often more relaxed in their approach to education since they have a flexibility that is not available in the public school. If a homeschool student is not ready for a concept, a parent can wait a bit and circle back to it at a later date. Many parents have noticed that when the child is ready, they are able to learn the concept much more quickly. Waiting did not hurt but helped.  Our children are not “cookie cutter” kids. Some may be ready for a “formal” education earlier than others. We believe it is best to allow a fit parent to decide.

We see a more relaxed approach is used in schools of Finland.  It appears to be helpful to those students as well.  Compulsory school age is seven, and playtime is important. The love of learning for learning’s sake is fostered. There is not an emphasis on assessments. Learning is (or should be) fun for children!

In closing, IAHE keeps abreast of Indiana homeschool trends. They currently have a survey posted for those who chose to delay formal education until age seven. Check it out if this pertains to you.

 

The Suffocating Embrace of the State

During the 2017 Indiana legislative session, there were two Education Savings Account (ESA) or Education Options Account bills introduced. If you are not familiar with state ESAs, they are a type of state taxpayer-funded voucher. IAHE is concerned that home schools in Indiana, which are classified as private schools, are at risk of losing their liberty if they would receive government funding as the lines are blurred between public and private. As IAHE researched this issue, we noticed quotes that said there is a desire to build a new public school system that would include private schools, such as this one, by longtime school choice advocates:

“Any private schools that do participate will thereby become public schools, as such schools are defined under the new system.” [1]

Indiana’s 2017 House ESA bill, known as HB 1591, would have drawn home educators into the publicly funded mix of educational choices. The House author, Representative Jim Lucas, tried to reassure the homeschool community his bill would do no harm since his bill included “protective language.” IAHE compared the language in HB 1591 to the protective language used for vouchers, and it was the same. Here is the “protective language” used for vouchers:

IC 20-51-4 Chapter 4. Choice Scholarship

IC 20-51-4-1 Autonomy of nonpublic schools; curriculum

Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided under subsections (b) through (h), it is the intent of the general assembly to honor the autonomy of nonpublic schools that choose to become eligible schools under this chapter. A nonpublic eligible school is not an agent of the state or federal government, and therefore:

(1) the department or any other state agency may not in any way regulate the educational program of a nonpublic eligible school that accepts a choice scholarship under this chapter, including the regulation of curriculum content, religious instruction or activities, classroom teaching, teacher and staff hiring requirements, and other activities carried out by the eligible school;

(2) the creation of the choice scholarship program does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, the state’s officers, or a school corporation to impose additional regulation of nonpublic schools beyond those necessary to enforce the requirements of the choice scholarship program in place on July 1, 2011; and

(3) a nonpublic eligible school shall be given the freedom to provide for the educational needs of students without governmental control.

On its face, it doesn’t sound too bad, does it? IAHE Action decided to ask parents whose children were in voucher-accepting schools to learn their first-hand experience. They felt the “protective language” still has negative effects on their schools.  According to the EdChoice publication, The ABCs of School Choice, these are the requirements for Indiana voucher schools:

Indiana Code 20-51-1-4

  • Be accredited by either the state board or a national or regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the state board.
  • Comply with health and safety codes
  • Must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin*
  • Conduct criminal background checks on employees
  • Administer the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) program and report to the state data for A-F ratings including ISTEP scores and graduation rates

To remain eligible to accept new scholarship students, a school must not be rated as D or F for two or more consecutive years

  • Must grant the state full access to its premises for observing classroom instruction and reviewing any classroom instructional materials and curriculum
  • Provide civic and character education and display related historical documents

* There has been a discussion by a Congresswoman about an Indiana Christian voucher-accepting school and a recent effort in Nevada to broaden this to include gender.

If these are the requirements for private schools to receive voucher students, homeschoolers should expect similar requirements since Indiana classifies home schools as private schools. Strangely enough, few requirements were included in the text of HB 1591. Although it was not included in the language of the bill except as “rules and regulations,” the House author of HB 1591 stated there will be “assessments to make sure the parent is giving taxpayers their money’s worth.” What happens if the State decides they are not “getting their money’s worth?” We do not know because the Code has not yet been written.  

Remember, assessments drive instruction and curriculum choices in order to do well on the high-stakes assessments. Catholic school parents have shared they have seen many changes at their school including using Common Core curriculum in order to do well on the assessments. Did the State say they must use Common Core curriculum? No, but they feel nudged in that direction in order to perform well on the state aligned tests.

The General Assembly changes the law every year. Many times they use incrementalism to accomplish unpopular agenda items. This means they pass a bill that seems good at first, and then each year, more regulations are added. This is what happened with vouchers until Indiana received an F rating on the freedom scale from the Education Freedom Watch Private School Choice Freedom Grading Scale Table because “private” voucher schools must administer the state assessment to all of its students (even those who did not receive vouchers) and collect the data.

Where are we headed? Why would anyone desire a blurring between public and private? This quote from the Hoover Institution ties the current nationalized educational landscape of Common Core and School Choice together:

 A parallel shift in state finance systems toward fully portable “weighted student funding” should be combined with strong performance incentives for schools and pupils alike.

States should also rewrite their compulsory attendance laws to define “school” more flexibly, such that students may satisfy the statute in various settings. (There is precedent for this in the exemptions already given to homeschoolers.) The state’s principal interest should shift from attendance to academic achievement.

As that policy transformation occurs, an authorizing body is needed to approve and monitor schools and other education providers (HB 1591 included parents as providers), but this responsibility need not be confined to traditional public school systems. They ought not to function as both service providers and regulators of their competitors. Instead, independent sponsorship entities—perhaps operating on a multi-state or nationwide basis—should become viable alternatives.

Also needed are independent audit-and-data units responsible for honest reporting on student, school, and district performance across multiple variables: academic, financial, and so on. These, in turn, should be accountable to governors or state auditors rather than education departments; this work, too, might be outsourced to multi state or national bodies.

A spine of national standards, tests, and core curricula is needed to hold all this together, furnishing common goals, metrics, and benchmarks against which the many diverse providers can be tracked and their performance compared across the entire nation and aligned with similar international measures.

The future, in other words, need not result from an extrapolation of present-day trends. It could—and in this realm should—be different and better. But that’s not likely to occur spontaneously.

The Hoover Institution quote should be very troubling to homeschoolers. Homeschool parents, seek to facilitate the equivalent education of their individual students instead of focusing on “achievement” as compared to other students in a traditional school; therefore, enabling the homeschool child to become a fully functioning member of society and not a burden to their family or the state. In homeschooling, “education” may look different for different children and different families at different ending times but it is the parent and not the state that is ultimately responsible for the education of the child. This is why direct government funding of a child’s education outside of the public school is hazardous to our liberty!

Homeschoolers left the public school system for many reasons such as the curriculum, the testing, or the data collection. Do you want to risk getting sucked back into the public system with state ESAs? Parents, you have been doing an excellent job of teaching your children without government assistance. Let’s continue with what we know works and not be seduced by offers of tax dollars with government strings attached. Homeschool liberty is at stake.

 [1] John E. Chubb, Terry M. Moe. Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institute, 1990: p. 219.

This article is not to be construed as legal advice.

2017 Legislative Wrap-Up

HEA 1384 Various Education Matters

Representative Robert Behning (R – Indianapolis)

This session, IAHE was asked to testify in the House and the Senate in regards to the “push out” problem where the public and some accredited private schools encouraged problem students to “homeschool” in order to protect the school’s A-F state accountability grade. A legislator claimed in committee meetings that 13,000 students/year had reported enrollment to homeschool in Indiana. Schools encouraged a number of these families to “homeschool,” even though the parent did not initiate it. IAHE has fielded many phone calls from these families who were classified by the school as a “homeschooler” and then given IAHE’s phone number to help them get started. As IAHE Regional Representatives counseled these families, and the parent came to understand what is involved in home education, many parents decided home education was not a good fit for their family. It is unlikely that these students were ever removed from the homeschool classification.

In an attempt to curtail this practice, HEA 1384 contains language that prohibits a school from classifying a student as a homeschooler unless the school has substantial evidence that the parent or guardian of the student initiated the student leaving the public high school or an accredited nonpublic high school. The Indiana Department of Education may require the school to produce this evidence if it is ever requested. It will be important for the school to have evidence in writing that the parent initiated a transfer to homeschooling.

The State Board will also consider the mobility of high school students who are credit deficient, and whether any high school should be rewarded for enrolling credit deficient students or penalized for transferring out credit deficient students. We hope this bill helps to curtail the practice of pushing out credit deficient students, so they can receive the help they need. As strong proponents of homeschooling, the IAHE knows the work and dedication it requires. We also recognize that it is not the appropriate choice for all students.

 

HEA 1003 Student Assessments

Representative Robert Behning (R – Indianapolis)

This bill replaces ISTEP after June 30, 2018, with a new statewide assessment to be known as Indiana’s Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network (ILEARN). The original language in the bill required all students in public, charter, state accredited nonpublic, and voucher schools to take the assessment. The original language would have required any homeschooler who was enrolled for one class in a school listed above to take the assessment. IAHE Action worked with Representative Behning and Senator Kruse to amend the language to require full-time enrolled students to take the assessment instead of all enrolled students. Note that a homeschooler enrolled in a public school class must take the end of course assessment associated with the class.

 

HEA 1004 Pre-Kindergarten Education

Representative Robert Behning (R – Indianapolis)

HEA 1004 is a preschool bill that expands taxpayer funding for institutional preschool. It expanded the state preschool program to an additional 15 counties and added a possible option for an in-home technology-based program for pre-k.

This bill:

  • “Requires the department of education…to approve an early learning development framework for prekindergarten.”
  • Develops a program to reimburse parents for technology-based, in-home early education services to a child. This program costs between $1,000 and $2,000/child depending if the family has internet access. (Homeschoolers informed us there is a similar preschool program that is free, and other programs that are much cheaper. Will these free/inexpensive programs continue to exist as companies see that they can instead choose to sell their software to the government for $1000 per child? How many parents will reduce their use of local libraries as they opt for an online program promoted by the state?)
  • This program uses personalized learning. The software assesses the child’s progress at key milestones to determine what type of instruction each child will receive. The program includes a parental engagement and involvement component. From the program’s website, it states, “Every family is partnered with a Personal Care Representative who monitors their child’s progress throughout the year. Families will be contacted if their child’s usage falls below guidelines.
  • Students who use the program will be required to be a part of a longitudinal study to determine achievement levels in kindergarten and later years. It must include a comparison of test and assessment results in grade 3 of the children who received in-home early education services; and a control group that consists of children who did not receive in-home early education services.

IAHE is concerned about the lack of long-term results from institutional preschool and particularly concerned about technology-based preschool. The increased use of taxpayer funding weakens communities by making it more difficult for those who take personal responsibility for teaching their own children to stay home on one income, and by replacing the use of libraries and local bookstores.

IAHE also has concerns about personalized learning via computer, especially for young children. Parents are fully capable of preparing their children for kindergarten without oversight. Families already have local libraries, which offer free books and multiple educational programs. We believe a parent who reads to his or her child on their lap will have better results than a child watching the pages of a book turning on a screen. We believe there would be long-term positive results if the State would encourage parents to prepare their young children for school without relying on institutional-based state support. Doing so would strengthen the family and strengthen our communities.

 

HEA 1005 Superintendent of Public Instruction

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (R – Indianapolis)

Before January 1, 2021, the Superintendent of Public Instruction will be elected. HEA 1005 abolishes the office of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction after January 10, 2025. The governor will then appoint a Secretary of Education who will serve at the pleasure of and at a salary determined by the governor. This does not require a change to the State Constitution.

At Work For You

 

SEA 198 Career and Technical Education

Senator Ryan Mishler (R – Bremen)

IAHE and IAHE Action vigilantly watch for opportunities to prevent discrimination of homeschool graduates. SEA 198 presented an avenue to allow high school seniors or graduates of nonaccredited, nonpublic schools to have equal standing with high school seniors or graduates of other Indiana schools to apply for a high-value Workforce Ready Grant. The student must be enrolled in an eligible certificate program at Ivy Tech or Vincennes University at least half-time. They must be financially independent of their parents, not eligible for any state financial aid program, and maintain adequate academic progress. The applicant must not have previously received a baccalaureate degree, an associate degree, or an eligible certificate.

The amount of a high-value workforce ready credit-bearing grant is equal to the amount of the educational costs of the institution that the applicant is attending excluding other financial assistance. An applicant may use the high-value workforce ready credit-bearing grant only to pay the educational costs of courses required for the applicant’s certificate program. The duration may not exceed the lesser of two undergraduate academic years; or the number of credit hours required by the eligible certificate program in which the student is enrolled. A high-value workforce ready credit-bearing grant may be renewed if the student maintains satisfactory academic progress while receiving the grant, and is enrolled in an eligible certificate program that requires more than twelve (12) credit hours or its equivalent.

 

SEA 175 Healthcare Consent

Senator Jean Leising (R – Rushville)

IAHE Action amended this bill to protect parental rights. This bill would have allowed a grandparent to sign a health care consent instead of a parent if a parent is not reasonably available. We believed the original language was not strong enough. IAHE Action included an amendment that stated one must first ascertain a parent, guardian or adult sibling is unavailable.

 

Nothing in this post shall be construed as legal advice.

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