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.

To receive legislative updates via email during the legislative session, sign up here.  

Homeschool Student Essay Contest

Sponsored by our friends at the Coalition of Central Indiana Tea Parties
Topic:  The Relationship Between Religion and Government, the Founders’ intent
Age groups:
16 thru 18
12 thru 15
Rewards:
$500- first place

$250-second place

Essay composition suggestions:
(these are not written in stone, but varying greatly from them might reduce your chances of success)
750-word maximum
Include footnotes for sources and quotes, original documents are encouraged
Footnotes are not included in word count.
Essays must be postmarked by August 1, 2017.
Judging will be completed by September 1, 2017. Awards will be presented at our Constitution Day Celebration.
Only winners and honorable mentions will be notified. A list of the winners will be available after September 2017 at www.libertyliveshere.org.
Your essay will not be returned to you, so make a personal copy before you send it to us.
Honorable mentions might also be shared (without exposure of your personal information) as examples of our youths Constitutional knowledge.
We invite you to accept the challenge and examine our First Amendment, and the intent of our Founders with regard to religion.
Be sure to provide your age and contact information.    Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL
 
Send your entries to:
Essay Contest
c/o Wm Price
3570 N, 150 W
Lebanon, IN 46052

Tuttle Twins – PreSales Start TODAY!

IAHE Action is partnering with the author of the Tuttle Twins to offer us a terrific opportunity. As you know, IAHE Action has been extremely active this legislative session protecting the freedoms of all homeschooling families in Indiana. Having a voice at the Statehouse has never been more important than right now.  As the homeschooling community continues to grow, so do the issues we face. Purchasing the Tuttle Twins books through us will not only help raise your family’s understanding of liberty principles, it will help ensure that IAHE Action can continue to be a presence and a voice at the Statehouse.

“Each year, hundreds of millions of children are spoon-fed false history, bad economics, and logical fallacies. Your child is not immune.

Well-meaning parents have long desired a way to inoculate their children against this trend to help them really grasp the importance of freedom and free markets—the pillars of peace and prosperity that create abundance and social harmony in our world.

These parents—just like you—have had nowhere to turn, and no literature to provide their child… until now!

The solution is here: The Tuttle Twins books.”

A set of five Tuttle Twins books has the presale price of $45 for pick-up at the IAHE Action booth at the 2017 IAHE Home Educators’ Convention March 24 & 25. Order them here.

The Tuttle Twins books are written by a homeschooling parent.

  • Economic concepts difficult for many adults will be a breeze for your child.
  • Your child will be familiar with the important literature in the liberty movement at a young age.
  • The world will make more sense to your child—watching the news, overhearing “grown up” conversations, and even going to the store… your child will have a solid foundation to better discern right from wrong.

You are never too young or old to learn more about the principles our Nation was founded on, and there has never been a better time for all of us to become more aware of our rights as citizens.

The 5 books set includes the following titles:

1.) The Tuttle Twins Learn about THE LAW    

The foundation of freedom

Children are often taught that government protects our life, liberty, and property, but could it be true that some laws actually allow people to hurt us and take our things? Join Ethan and Emily Tuttle as they learn about property, pirates, and plunder!
Help the children in your life learn the principles of liberty!

The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law is 62 pages long and full of fun, colorful illustrations. Recommended reading age: 5-11.

 

2.) The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil  tt2_cover

The miracle of the free market

Ethan and Emily Tuttle have grown up taking for granted the many things they use: clothes, cars, homes, backpacks—even something as simple as a pencil. In this fun adventure to an amazing factory, the twins learn about the miracle and importance of the free market.

Help the children in your life learn how the free market works!

The Tuttle Twins Learn and the Miraculous Pencil is 64 pages long and full of fun, colorful illustrations. Recommended reading age: 5-11.

 

3.) The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island
tt3_cover

 The creature stealing our money

Join the twins in their exciting third adventure as they uncover the mystery of how a powerful creature is stealing their grandparents’ hard-earned savings, and how they can fight back to protect the money they make in their family business!

What kind of creature can steal your money? Join Ethan and Emily Tuttle in their exciting third adventure, as they uncover the curious mystery of how a powerful creature is stealing their grandparents’ hard-earned savings, and how the twins are also being controlled by the same creature—without even knowing it!

The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island is 58 pages long and full of fun, colorful illustrations. Recommended reading age: 5-11.

 

4.) The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco

 tt4_coverA fight for fairness

Disruptive businesses often fight against their crony competitors and their allies in government. Ethan and Emily witness this firsthand with their food truck friends as they embark on a campaign to win public support and overturn the laws that shut them down.

The oldest economic battle is repeating itself!

Disruptive businesses must fight against their crony competitors—the ones with friends in government who try and protect them from innovative upstarts. Ethan and Emily Tuttle witness this battle firsthand with their food truck friends as they embark on a campaign to win public support and overturn the laws that shut them down.

The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco is 58 pages long and full of fun, colorful illustrations. Recommended reading age: 5-11.

 

5.) The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom

 tt5_coverA tale of unintended consequences

History abounds with examples of government officials making decisions that harm others. Unfortunately, these unintended consequences are rarely if ever anticipated. As the twins find in their latest adventure, central planning can ruin people’s lives!

History abounds with examples of government officials making decisions, well-intentioned or otherwise, that harm others. Unfortunately, these unintended consequences are never anticipated and rarely considered once they occur. As the Tuttle Twins find in their latest adventure, central planning can ruin people’s lives.

Nobel prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek’s famous book The Road to Serfdom comes to life in this edition, showing that when people get what they wish for, they often get much more than they bargained. Read along as Ethan and Emily investigate a new road built to take travelers to a beach named Surfdom—and the disruption it brings to the entire community.

This book is 64 pages long and full of fun, colorful illustrations. Recommended reading age: 5-11.

 

We are offering an opportunity to pre-order the Tuttle Twins set of five books and pick them up at our booth at your convenience at this year’s IAHE Home Educators’ Convention on March 24 & 25, in Indianapolis.

Here are the details:

A set of five Tuttle Twins books has the presale price of $45 for Convention pick-up, and you can order them here. (Retail price of $50.)

The presale will run from today until March 15.

Thank you for supporting us! If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to email info@iaheaction.net.

IAHE Action is a 501(c)4 organization and donations are NOT tax deductible.

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Homeschooling in Indiana and Nationwide

This research from National Home Education Research Institute was commissioned to provide to elected officials for Indiana Association of Home Educators’ Home School Day at the Capitol. We understand there were approximately 1,100 in attendance. Funding from our generous donors allowed IAHE Action to assist IAHE in defraying part of the cost of the study.  Thank you for your support and for partnering with us to keep Hoosier homeschoolers free!

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At Work For You

HSLDA Requests Calls about HR 610

Urgent Action Needed: Congress Attempting to Give Federal Government Money to Homeschools

A message from Will Estrada and Mike Smith

Dear Friend,
It has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. As homeschooling families know too well, government money will eventually lead to government control.
That’s why HSLDA is opposing a bill introduced by our friends in Congress, Rep. Steve King (IA) and Rep. Andy Harris (MD). Though well-intentioned, H.R. 610 is ultimately ill-advised. It calls for sending all federal education dollars to the states in the forms of federal grants so that the states can then give the money as vouchers to public, private, and homeschool students.
(Note: While Rep. Trent Franks (AZ) is also listed as a cosponsor of H.R. 610, we talked with him and his staff last night and they agree with our concerns about homeschooling families being included in H.R. 610. As a result, there is no need to contact his office, and we are deeply grateful to him for his commitment to protecting homeschool freedom from “help” by the federal government. Here is the statement Franks gave to us: “I understand the concerns of the homeschool community. My support for the bill only extends to vouchers for public school and private school students. If this bill moves forward, I would request that any language that would impose vouchers upon homeschools is taken out.”)
Read more here.
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