2019 Legislative Session Wrap-up

IAHE began this legislative session in January by monitoring 69 bills of concern. By mid-session, we were actively monitoring twenty-one bills with the potential to impact homeschool families, three of which were very concerning. While the majority of bills were education issues that we typically monitor every year, the emergence of mental health bills unexpectedly became the hot topic of the session.


Compulsory School Age

SB 318 (Gregory Taylor, Democrat – District 33)

  • Final Status – Bill died

Once again, a Senate bill was introduced that would lower the compulsory school age from seven years of age to five years. While it died again this session, we are well aware that this is an annual battle that we expect to revisit in 2020.


Mandatory Kindergarten

HB 1408 (Tonya Pfaff, Democrat – District 43)

  • Final Status – Bill died

This bill would have made kindergarten mandatory for every student five years of age on August 1 of that school year. It is now dead for this session, but we expect to watch this every year. However, the budget bill has positioned funding for increased kindergarten enrollment, so IAHE Action will be vigilant in watching for this in upcoming sessions.


Graduation Pathways

SB 507 (Jeff Raatz, Republican – District 27)

  • Final Status – Bill died in the House

HB 1002 (Holli Sullivan, Republican – District 78)

  • Final Status – Bill passed

SB 507 would have created a graduation pathways tracking and reporting system within the public school system. Public school graduation legislation is always monitored so that we can ensure homeschoolers are not discriminated against in college admissions. While SB 507 died, HB 1002 passed and does include a study regarding career coaching and graduation pathways for public education which we will diligently monitor next session to be sure homeschoolers have an equal opportunity in higher education.


Data Mining

SB 266 (Michael Crider, Republican – District 28)

  • Final Status – Bill died in the House

SB 507 (Jeff Raatz, Republican – District 27)

  • Final Status – Bill died in the Senate

Both the bill that would have mandated mental health screenings (SB 266), as well as the bill crafting graduation pathways (SB 507), would have created a tracking and reporting system on students. SB 507 would have required the Department of Education to provide data on students to the Commission for Higher Education and the State Board. SB 266 and its cohort, HB 1004, must have also, by their very nature, included the collection and recording of students’ inmost thoughts gathered through the mental health screenings. Data mining is a computer science term that simply involves collecting and storing data and finding new information within that data. These bills would have mined data from and about students, and IAHE is always against data mining due to the school system’s lack of accountability. SB 266 died and HB 1004 had the mental health language removed.


Educational Savings Options

HB 1254 (Jim Lucas, Republican – District 69)

  • Final Status – Bill died in House

HB 1675 (Ryan Lauer, Republican – District 59)

  • Final Status – Bill died in House

These two bills addressed educational savings options, such as annual grants or deductions for education-related expenses, typically to be administered by the state. IAHE Action met with legislators, and we were successful in having our concerns heard that this would be the proverbial foot in the door for increased government regulation of homeschooling.


Bias Crimes

SB 12 (Mike Bohacek, Republican – District 8)

  • Final Status – Bill died in House

SB 198 (Mike Bohacek, Republican – District 8)

  • Final Status – Bill passed

This session began with 13 bias and/or hate crime bills. SB 12 was the first to take off and it provided that a court may consider bias in imposing a criminal sentence. While not necessarily a homeschool issue, this bill had many faces. We monitored it to be able to inform co-ops and other homeschool groups with employees as to whether this may have affected them as well as religious restrictions that may be affected. SB 12 died in the House. SB 198 was similar to SB 12 and while it did pass this year and is now law, it does not list specific groups and is a sentencing bill so it does not have a direct effect on homeschool groups with employees.


Mental Health Screenings

SB 266 (Michael Crider, Republican – District 28)

  • Final Status – Bill died in House

HB 1004 (Wendy McNamara, Republican – District 76)

  • Final Status – Bill passed

HB 1001 (Todd Huston – Republican – District 37)

  • Final Status – Bill passed

HB 1629(Robert Behning – Republican – District 91)

  • Final Status – Bill Passed

SB 325(Michael Crider – Republican – District 28)

  • Final Status – Bill passed

SB 266 emerged from revisions in the Senate as a monstrosity that would mandate local schools to become, in essence, mental health providers. This would have been a huge infringement on parental rights by instituting mental health screenings for ALL children from birth through the age of 22. SB 266 passed the Senate but homeschooling parents along with other like-minded groups were able to sound the alarm about this bill and consequently, it did not receive a hearing in the House.

HB 1004 then began to move through the Senate, where IAHE Action watched to see if it would pick up language from SB 266 which included mental health screenings from birth to age 22. IAHE Action was pleased to see Sen. Dennis Kruse add language protecting parental rights by requiring written parental consent prior to mental health screenings and surveys, even though this was still a public school issue at that point. The bill passed the Senate with those provisions intact. However, Rep. Wendy McNamara, unhappy with the addition of these parental consent language, stripped the bill of mental health language before it passed.

HB 1001 was the biennial budget bill and it did pass with language included that allowed for the Secured School Safety grant funds to be used for school-based mental health services. However, in their final day of the session, the House heard the cries of conservative groups (including YOU!) and allowed SB 1629 to nullify the allowance in HB 1001 of using those funds for mental health services in schools. In addition to this, SB 325 included some parental protections for those using public schools. These protections are not perfect and do not allow for penalties, but all in all IAHE Action is pleased to see that legislators heard the people’s voices. SB 325 may be a springboard for homeschoolers to use in future sessions if parental protections of homeschoolers are infringed upon by extending mental health screenings outside of the public school system as was attempted this session.

READ MORE: UPDATE: HB 1004
READ MORE: What About SB266?

Virtual Public School Acountability

SB 567 – (Sen. Jeff Raatz – Republican – District 27)

  • Final Status – passed

In the final weeks of the session, a bill to create additional oversight for virtual public schools harkened back to old issues when SB 567 would have removed the “homeschool exemption” for students withdrawn to homeschool from the public schools for funding calculations. This change would have lumped these new homeschool students in with dropouts when the school reported back to the state. While it was unclear if there would be any long-term consequences for the individual student, the implications of grouping these two types of students does not reflect the intentions of the parents to continue the child’s education. We worked with Rep. Behning to address our concerns and the “homeschool exemption” was reinstated.

READ MORE: SB 567: Homeschoolers as dropouts?


Thank you for making a difference!

Despite having a Republican supermajority in the legislature, parents cannot let their guards down because new issues are introduced each session, as we saw this year with the issues of mental health and bias crime bills. Your phone calls and emails were heard.

Also this session, IAHE Action had many good discussions with many legislators such as our friends Rep. Robert Behning, Rep. Timothy Wesco, Sen. Dennis Kruse, Sen. Randall Head, Rep. Mike Speedy, Sen. Greg Walker, and Sen. Jeff Raatz. Many of these legislators reached out to us when they found areas of concern. Our goal is always to keep them aware that homeschool parents are here, actively monitoring educational bills as well as parental rights concerns.

We have also been able to introduce IAHE & IAHE Action to several legislators who only had a basic understanding of homeschooling. We were able to work with them and share how IAHE stands for parental rights, homeschool freedom, and religious freedom. We are grateful to those legislators that attended the IAHE Home Educators’ Convention. Every year, we hear from new legislators how vital the convention is to their understanding of the home education community.

Thank you to all of you who stay updated and contact your legislators as needed. YOU make a difference!

DONATE NOW to IAHE Action to support ongoing efforts to protect your homeschooling and parental rights.

SB 567: Homeschoolers as dropouts?

On April 9, 2018 Chalkbeat Indiana posted an article regarding SB 567, a bill to provide oversight to Indiana’s virtual, public school programs. The article referenced Rep. Bob Behning, the Indianapolis Republican who chairs the House Education Committee as saying:

Students who leave any public school — virtual or traditional — to be homeschooled would count as dropouts under the school’s graduation rate. Behning said he thinks schools abuse this option and those students, who might be more difficult to educate, end up in virtual schools.

Homeschooled students as dropouts?

Does Rep. Behning believe that families providing a home education are dropouts? Absolutely not.

The issue is whether or not schools are misreporting the number of students withdrawn to homeschool in an effort to protect their graduation rates and funding. Labeling chronic truants and dropouts as homeschooled students is a shell game with potential implications for all involved.

IAHE Action and our sister organization IAHE have been fighting this issue for years.

In 2013, a law was put in place in an attempt to address the problem of high school dropouts being categorized by the public school as homeschoolers. When a family asks to withdraw their student from a public high school, the school is required to provide families with counseling and information about Indiana law on home education (non-accredited, private schools).

Section 10 of House Enrolled Act 1005, added I.C. 20-33-2-28.6, a new section, to law. I.C. 20-33-2-28.6 provides the following: (a) This section applies to a high school student who is transferring to a nonaccredited nonpublic school. (b) Before a student withdraws from a public school, the principal of the student’s school shall provide to the student and to the student’s parent information on a form developed by the department and approved by the state board that explains the legal requirements of attending a nonaccredited nonpublic school located in Indiana. The principal and a parent of the student shall both sign the form to acknowledge that the parent understands the content of the form. (c) If the parent of the student refuses to sign the form provided by the principal under subsection (b), the student is considered a dropout and the principal shall report the student to the bureau of motor vehicles for action under section 28.5(g) of this chapter. The student is considered a dropout for purposes of calculating a high school’s graduation rate under IC 20-26-13-10.

In 2017, IAHE Action worked with Rep Behning to stop schools from mislabeling students that were withdrawn from the public school system to homeschool as dropouts.

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.

SB 567: A new year and a new bill

Faced with the staggering failure of Indiana virtual schools, the legislature is once again trying to hold public schools accountable. And, one of the key metrics for evaluating a public school and granting funding is a school’s graduation rate.

Read: How lax oversight and rapid growth fueled dismal results for Indiana’s virtual charter schools

One of the things that the original language in SB 567 attempted to do was to increase school accountability by removing the distinction between dropouts and students withdrawn to homeschool.

Indiana Coalition for Public Education shared the following:

SB 567 is a bill regarding increased oversight and regulation for virtual schools (generally a good thing). Among other provisions, Amendment #14 removes the “homeschool exemption” from the list of allowable reasons for a student to be removed from a graduation cohort. This means that, if passed/enacted, any student who withdraws from your high school for reason of “homeschooling” will count as a drop out in your high school’s graduation rate. This amendment will negatively affect the accountability grade of many public high schools.

As this bill moved from the Senate through the House, IAHE Action spoke with Rep. Behning to share our concerns about the implications of grouping new homeschool students in with dropouts. Behning authored and passed a House amendment that reinstated the homeschool exemption on April 9th.

Problems Persist

Are schools mislabeling their withdrawn students in an effort to retain their school’s letter grade and funding? Are schools coaching families to complete the homeschool withdraw form… even if the family has no intention to continue their child’s education? Are families being pushed into homeschooling without any understanding of home education?

Yes.

How many families?

That answer is unclear.

In 2018, twelve public schools reported that more than 10% of their high school seniors left to homeschool. Over seventy schools reported withdrawal rates of seniors higher than 5%. The IAHE has contact with a large number of families that make the decision to homeschool in order to complete their student’s high school education, but these numbers do not reflect what we see across the state.

Today, Chalkbeat contacted the IAHE to ask if our organization receives calls from families that were pushed into homeschooling by their public school.

Absolutely.

Our team continues to field calls from parents sharing their stories about school officials “signing their child up for homeschooling” on the Indiana Department of Education’s website — even when the parent has no clear understanding of home education.

As with any parenting challenge, no one begins homeschooling knowing everything they need. It takes time, research, sacrifice, and hard work to be successful. Most importantly, it takes commitment. We believe that parents are capable of providing a quality home education if they are dedicated to the challenge. But, parents should NEVER be forced into an educational choice by someone else.

The current process of evaluating public schools is broken. The rampant mismanagement of the virtual public school programs has only put a spotlight on an issue that has been present for many years. The debate over SB 567 and the schools’ “homeschool exemption” has only made it clear that abuse of the system is still happening.

In spite of the flaws and abuses in the current process, it is balanced by the need to maintain a distinction between high school dropouts and families deciding to homeschool. IAHE Action and IAHE are in support of SB 567 as it retains the current homeschool exemption for schools without increasing oversight for families.


DONATE NOW to IAHE Action to support ongoing efforts to protect your homeschooling and parental rights.

UPDATE: HB 1004

As we’ve shared here previously, HB 1004 has provisions dealing with mental health issues of high schoolers with virtually no parental protections. And, virtually no penalties if anyone was sloppy with protecting confidential information.

Sen. Kruse led a successful effort to get HB 1004 amended to include strong parental protections and the bill passed the Senate. However, IAHE Action has learned that the original bill author, Republican Rep. Wendy McNamara is trying to gut these protections. She refused to concur with the Senate changes and is now working behind to remove these hard-fought protections.

We’ve reached out to key legislators to make them aware of our dissatisfaction. But we need your help. 

If you’re like me and you want parental rights protections, please call your House Member today and let them know that the House should “concur” to HB 1004 and not gut the parental protections Sen. Kruse placed into HB 1004. 

American Family Association of Indiana’s Director, recently shared:

It is important to call, particularly your state Rep, and ask them to keep the parental rights language that the Senate put in 1004. The House GOP caucus will vote behind closed doors on whether to accept McNamara’s gutting of the bill… and she will then go back and act accordingly at the conference committee.

Micah Clark

The number is: 800-382-9841.

Please call right away, time for the 2019 session is coming to a close so the final votes could happen at any time. 

Support Sen. Kruse’s Amendment to HB 1004

UPDATE: Amendment #25 was pulled and rewritten as amendment #27. It was approved by the committee. Thank you for your action to protect parental rights!

URGENT: Please call your State Senator to support Sen. Kruse’s Amendment #25 to HB 1004. 

As you already know, thanks to your calls and emails, Senate Bill 266, after a contentious vote in the Senate, has stalled in the House Education Committee. That bill is now radio-active, so to speak. No one wants to touch it.

However, IAHE Action has learned that proponents of SB 266 are looking to use House Bill 1004 as a vehicle to advance their agenda. Currently, HB 1004 contains language that would have mandatory mental health screenings for 9-12th graders. While this bill is not a direct attack on homeschoolers yet, we view this as an attack on parental rights.

Thankfully, our long-time ally in the Senate, Sen. Dennis Kruse (R – Auburn) has filed an amendment that would strengthen parental rights protections by prohibiting any mental health screening, assessment, evaluation or treatment to occur without prior written consent from the parents.

Please call your Senator today and ask them to vote for Amendment #25 in the Senate Education Committee. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 1:30pm, so they need to hear from you right away. IAHE Action has also learned there is stiff resistance building to this amendment from the entrenched bureaucracies. So there is no time to waste and every call counts.

The Senate # is: 800-382-9467. Please call them ASAP. And if you have a minute, ask your friends and family to call as well. 

Please do all you can. 

DONATE NOW to IAHE Action to support ongoing efforts to protect your homeschooling and parental rights.

What About SB266?

We applaud the intentions of the authors to address the concerns that public schools are facing today, but tragic situations lead to bad legislation.

IAHE Action, along with our sister organization IAHE, continues to receive questions about SB266. As we wait with so many of you to see the bill’s status, we thought it would be helpful to share a recap of recent events.

When Senate Bill 266 was originally introduced on January 7, 2019, it was only nine pages long. The original intent of the bill was to address public school issues of mental health screening, safety, privacy, and other education matters.

By mid-February, the bill passed through the Appropriations Committee and emerged as a monstrosity far beyond the scope of the original. The revised bill shifted from providing services in the public school to a mandate for local schools to in essence become mental health providers for ALL children from birth through the age of 22.

Suddenly, a bill to address public school issues became a serious threat for ALL parents.

Compare the bill’s language from the original to the latest draft:

Prior to the Senate’s third reading, IAHE Action spoke with one of the bill’s co-authors Senator Dennis Kruse. He shared that the bill no longer held the protections he had worked to include. He shared that if the protections that he had fought for were not reinstated he would vote against the bill.

In February, Freedom Project said:

The legislation, dubbed SB 266, also furthers government meddling in the lives of children from birth through age 22. All children will be routinely screened for “mental-health” issues, with schools becoming de facto mental-health institutions. Indiana activists slammed the provisions as another step toward government control from cradle to grave.

Alex Newman 

Watch the Freedom Project Media’s, Duke Pesta, discuss the impact of this bill.

Testimony before the Senate on February 26th was heartfelt on both sides. One of the bill’s authors, Sen Crider, shared that the bill was written in the face of the May 2018 shooting in Noblesville. IAHE Action agrees that the public schools need effective tools to address the challenges that they are facing, but SB 266 gives authority to the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to target and identify any child for mental health screening. It is clear that the public school system is facing a severe crisis of addressing the needs of their students but as Sen Young testified “this bill will haunt you.”

It’s clear that the intentions of the original bill have been buried beneath an outside agenda.

In spite of an outcry of concern, the bill passed the Senate 29 to 20 and Sen Kruse removed himself as a co-author after the bill passed.

How did your Senator vote?

Check the Roll Call here.

Intentions of men vs. a very bad bill

In spite of the quiet during the middle of the legislative session, SB 266 is still alive and waiting for a hearing before the House Education Committee. Earlier this month we spoke with Sen Head about our concerns. He shared that the bill as it passed through the Senate was being amended and that the concerns being expressed by IAHE, IAHE Action, and many others would be addressed before the bill reached the House.

Is it possible for the authors to revise SB 266 to a point that addresses ALL of the concerns? Not likely. We applaud the intentions of the authors to address the concerns that public schools are facing today, but tragic situations lead to bad legislation.

Advance America

What’s next?

IAHE Action is actively watching for the reemergence of SB 266 in the House. Many people have been proactive with calling their Representatives and urging them to vote no on this bill… even though it has not been filed or scheduled for a hearing yet.

How different will the bill be once it shows back up? No one knows.

Will another bill take it’s place?

Sunday, March 17th, an article in the Pharos Tribune highlighted that a similar bill from the House (HB 1004) is in place to address these same issues in a manner with the same disregard for parental rights as SB 266.

Indiana Liberty Coalition shared:

House Bill 1004 is scheduled to be heard tomorrow afternoon in the Senate Education Committee. This bill is nearly as bad as SB266. It will allow government schools to set up the same mental health services/providers in schools along with social-emotional wellness services. We’ve shared with you many dangers on social-emotional learning and what is coming. This bill also includes the Youth Risk Behavior Survey which is a survey loaded with sexual questions and drives the funding for comprehensive sex ed into Indiana.

Neither bill is targeting the homeschool community on the surface, but full-scale attacks on parental rights will impact all parents. Both bills have now crossed over to the other side of the Indiana General Assembly and are facing new hearings. Both bills are still on the table for the second half of the session and IAHE Action encourages you to stay alert.

HB 1004: Call to Action

Call the Senate Education Committee and ask them to vote “NO” on HB1004.
Senate: (800) 382-9467
Chairman: Sen. Raatz (bill sponsor)
VP Chairman: Sen. Crane
Majority Members: Sen. Buchanan, Sen. Freeman, Sen. Kruse, Sen. Leising, Sen. Rogers and Sen. Spartz
Minority Members: Sen. Melton, Sen. Mrvan and Sen. Stoops

SB 266: Call to Action

Call the House Education Committee members and ask them to vote “NO” on SB 266.
House: (317) 232-9600
Chairman: Rep. Robert Behning
Vice Chair: Rep. Anthony Cook
Majority Members: Rep. Woody Burton, Rep. Edward Clere, Rep. Dale DeVon, Rep. Chuck Goodrich, Rep. Jack Jordon, and Rep. Jim Lucas
Minority Members: Rep. Vernon Smith, Rep. Edward DeLaney, Rep. Shelia Klinker, and Rep. Tonya Pfaff

UPDATE SB266: Mental Health Screening

Last week, IAHE Action shared about Senate Bill 266 which allows for mental health screening for all children through the age of 22. (Read the original post here.) Based on our conversations with one of the bill’s authors Sen Dennis Kruse we asked families to call and ask for the original language of the bill to be reinstated.

What has become clear since that time is that under the guise of mental health, SB 266 will give the government wide-reaching powers beyond what it already has to test, evaluate and treat our children.

Senate Bill 266 has become a massive vehicle to cover a variety of mental health programs paid for by the State of Indiana. What we originally liked about SB 266 was the effort to give schools tools balanced by various protections and penalties that Sen. Kruse had placed into the bill.

But below the surface, the bill gives control over our children’s well being to the state. When the government decides it’s their responsibility to evaluate the mental health of all children, we know that means parents will have fewer rights recognized to raise their children as they see fit.

At this point we don’t believe the bill can even be amended to our satisfaction. 

We are encouraging you to contact your State Senator and ask them to vote no on SB 266

Find your legislator here.

Read More

Indiana Education Bill Seeks “Mental Health” Control Of
All Kids

IN Senate Bill 266 Gives State/School Parental Power Over Students’ Mental Health from Birth to Age 22 – by Jeannie Georges

What Is The Cost of a Home Visit?

SB 266: Mental Health Screening for All Children

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we saw an uprising on Facebook with a call to action over proposed legislation, SB 266. It’s the kind of bill we worry about every day the General Assembly is in session. You should know, right off the bat, we need you to contact your State Senator right away.

One of our closest allies in the State Senate, veteran home school parent and former Education Chair, Sen. Dennis Kruse, informed us that SB 266 was amended in a committee hearing last week.

And, he’s not happy about it one bit. In fact, even though he’s listed as a co-author of the bill, he told us that he plans to vote against the bill unless the bill is fixed.

You see, SB 266 is the BIG attempt this year to expand mental health services into the schools. Public, charter, private, all of them. And that means schools will be in the business of conducting psychiatric and mental health surveys and treatments on children from birth to age 22.

While the bill pays lip-service to parental consent, Sen. Kruse had wisely added into the bill a variety of protections for parents and students and also penalties for schools that didn’t follow the law.

But the public-school lobby quickly moved into action and had Sen. Kruse’s protections stripped from SB 266.

As the bill stands now, the schools could prescribe a psychological evaluation or treatment to a minor without fear of penalty of the law.

We have seen way too many instances over the years of where schools are ignoring the law and trampling the rights of parents and our kids. Having clear penalties for violations of protected health information and consent is the least we can ask for.

Right now under the guise of “mental health” Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly are moving ahead to let schools do whatever they please and spending millions to do it.

Please call your Senator today at 800-382-9467 and demand they restore Sen. Kruse’s protections and penalties in SB 266.

We can’t take any vote for granted. The next vote will be before the entire Senate.

If enough Senators hear from us right now, we can get this bill fixed so that schools will be accountable to the law.

Please do all you can.

Rob Besiwenger
rob@iaheaction.net

What Do You Mean Kindergarten Isn’t Mandatory in Indiana?

Kindergarten isn’t mandatory in Indiana, but almost all children in Indiana already begin kindergarten at age 5. It is so common to start school at age 5 that most people assume that kindergarten is mandatory when a child is eligible.

Indiana educators are now pushing to lower the compulsory school age to 5. (It’s also being called “mandatory kindergarten,” but that’s a bit of a misnomer because most children who do not enter school at age 5 do not skip kindergarten; they just start kindergarten at a later age).

Currently, children in Indiana must begin school at age 7. The compulsory school age was set at age 7 for a reason, and lowering it now will not result in any educational improvement. Right now, parents can decide if their under-age-7 children are ready for school. If the compulsory school age is lowered, parents will no longer have that right.

“To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” – Mark Twain

You’ve probably heard variations of the above quote. I was reminded of it again and again during the years I was a public-school teacher. The quote refers to something that’s also called the law of the instrument. This truism states that there is a natural human tendency to be over-dependent on their narrow skill-sets and resources. In other words, if you’re used to using a particular tool, you’ll use it to solve any problem, even if another solution would be much better. That’s what happens in education time after time. 

The hammer of the public-school system is wielded as the sole tool of education.

That hammer has been in use for a hundred years, and for a while the people even largely forgot that there was any other way to become educated.

Comments and Actions Reflect a Strong Bias Against Parents and Parental Rights

Proponents of lowering the compulsory school age have a tool – the public-school system – and they view it as the only correct way to educate a child. They act shocked (“appalled”) that children are not already required to attend a brick-and-mortar school at age 5. Some of the comments made by those pushing this bill are disturbingly anti-parent.

“McCormick said the state needs to send a strong message that kids need to be in some sort of structured educational environment by the time they’re 5 years old.”

No evidence is offered for placing a child in a structured educational environment by the time they’re 5. As I will detail later, on the balance studies do not show a need for structured, formal education at age 5, and in fact there are many studies showing that structure can be harmful in early childhood development.

Exactly what do proponents of lowering the compulsory school age view as a “structured educational environment?” I doubt most home school kindergarten environments would qualify in the eyes of those who wield the hammer of the institution of public school. Many homeschooling parents make a distinction between “homeschool” and “school at home,” and intentionally avoid the latter.

Despite thousands of years of homeschool tradition, and hundreds in our nation, parents are no longer trusted with their natural ability to educate their own child – even parents of 4-to-5-year-old children. Comments from proponents of lowering the compulsory school age reveal their ignorance, dismissal, or contempt for the parent’s right and ability to educate their child.

It turns out that the evidence supports thousands of years of tradition – children who are with their parents and caregivers are better off.

“[C]ontrolled for child functioning prior to school entry, child gender, and measures of family and child care experiences through the first 4.5 years of life before we assessed the impact of entry age on child development….greater maternal sensitivity and greater child care quality predict better social and academic functioning in the early elementary school years;”

Who is in the best position to decide their child’s educational pathway? The parent.

But, against best evidence and tradition, the proponents of lowering the compulsory school age are ready to step in and force parents to put their child in school at a lower age. If your child’s educational model doesn’t fit into their view of what is correct, they’re willing to hammer your child down into place by forcing earlier compulsory schooling.

First pre-K was pushed. Proponents of lowering the compulsory school age use pre-K as an excuse to push for structured kindergarten, mandatory at age 5.

How long will it be until they are also forcing your children into whatever it is they deem a “structured environment?”

Shouldn’t we all be asking what’s really best for the child?

Are proponents of lowering the compulsory school age operating with your child’s best interest in mind, or are they pushing their own preconceived agenda? Who do you think is an in a better place to decide what a 5-year-old child is ready for – the child’s own parent, or a state law that applies universally to all children?

Is it better, on average, to begin formal school at an older or younger age? There are studies that support both sides of the debate, but the consensus is that there is a small benefit to entering school at an older age.

“In sum, over and above experiences at home and in child care, the age that children entered school showed some modest relation to school achievement, especially growth in achievement, with children who entered school at an older age progressing faster than children who started school at a somewhat younger age…”

This large, well-designed study is contrary to the agenda being pushed by proponents of lowering the compulsory school age. 

Proponents of lowering the compulsory school age should have a responsibility to properly demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between a lowered compulsory school age and long-term benefits for children into adulthood.[i]

They have not shown this evidence. So far, as stated above, the sum of the research shows the opposite: A lowered compulsory school age does not result in long-term benefits.

Why are educators so keen to force this on the people of Indiana without evidence to show that it will improve education?

The Problem is Vastly Overstated

There are parents who decide that it’s best to delay a child’s entry into public school. This happens for many reasons.

It’s wrong to automatically assume that a child who doesn’t attend public-school kindergarten when eligible will be “behind” if the child is subsequently placed into public school. There are many reasons why a concerned parent might choose alternative education, or to delay education altogether for a young child.

Some parents simply place the child in kindergarten a year later than the child is eligible. Most of those children would be placed in kindergarten, not first grade, as the idea behind delaying kindergarten was to allow a child to catch up to peers.

Some children attend private school for kindergarten. Private school tuition costs could be manageable for kindergarten, but once the price increases steeply for first grade, it becomes unaffordable for more families.

Some children are homeschooled for kindergarten.

Parents choose these options for many reasons, but part of it is in response to the changing nature of kindergarten. Parents are doing what they can do fix the problems that the education system is creating by forcing longer days and tougher curriculum on five-year-old children who are not all developmentally ready.

“It’s not just a question of when do you start kindergarten, but what do you do in those kindergarten classes? If you make kindergarten the new first grade, then parents may sensibly decide to delay entry. If kindergarten is not the new first grade, then parents may not delay children’s entries as much.”

No one knows how many parents are choosing the above options, or which options they’re choosing. Those who want to lower the compulsory school age have tossed out numbers from 118 to 7000. What is the real number? Common sense, history, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers (even lawmakers!) are surprised to hear that the compulsory school age isn’t already 5 tell us that the number of children is probably very small.

What to Do?

First, lawmakers need to understand that miracles do not accompany increased schooling.

I don’t think anyone is arguing against the fact that public schools are in decline. We’re all watching it happen.

Do we want more of a bad thing?

No, and it shows. Parents are increasingly demanding alternatives. We don’t want to use the hammer. We have better tools.

Our state has public schools to educate those children whose parents are unwilling or unable to do so. The state’s primary concern should be providing the education it is authorized to provide, and doing it well.

“Having expected miracles from increased schooling, the public has no choice but to live with the limitations of education. … [I]n seeking to free rather than imprison the child, promote growth rather than stunt it, and foster individual welfare rather than harm it, not only the quality of schools but also the quality of the society in which young people are growing up must be improved.”[ii]

Lowering the compulsory school age is a mistake. The state should focus its efforts on doing what it can to fix our public schools.

 

 

[i] Ray, Brian D. (2009). Is there any solid evidence for expanding compulsory school age? Salem, OR: National Home Education Research Institute.

[ii] https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED119389.pdf Katz, Michael S., A History of Compulsory Education Laws. Fastback Series, No. 75. Bicentennial Series. Phi Delta Kappa, Bloomington, Ind. 1976. Available at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED119389.pdf, last accessed December 10, 2017.

 

Lisa Yankey is a happy homeschooling mom of three, but she never expected to homeschool. Teaching runs in her blood – she is a former public school teacher, and her mother, father, and brother are all former public school teachers. During her childhood and as a teacher herself, she recognized many issues in public school. She went to law school at night in a long-term plan to help improve public schools. She used to believe that every child could receive a good and appropriate education from public school. She realized the error of this belief when she watched her own child suffering in public school. She began homeschooling shortly after her oldest child had a disastrous start to public school first grade, and she has never looked back.

Lisa serves as a member of the IAHE Action Government Affairs team. She kept her career as a part-time attorney and works for herself as a sole practitioner, with a practice area in immigration law. She is known particularly for her representation of victims of domestic abuse. She continues teaching adults as a speaker on immigration law at continuing legal education events for fellow lawyers. Lisa resides in Noblesville, Indiana (Hamilton County). with her husband, three children, two dogs, and a cat. 

IAHE ACTION is a 501c4 organization. Donations are not tax deductible. It is funded by our generous donors.

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.

 

 

 

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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