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.

 

 

IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 8

This post is our eighth of nine installments regarding the transcript from the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing that was held on February 17, 2016.  You may read our other posts herehere, here, here, hereherehere, and here.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 215 MR. DOUGLAS: Thank you all. Principal Sanders, you mentioned that something like 500 kids went off to charter or parochial schools and something like 404 came back, and we have also heard from some earlier testimony that sometimes kids are sent — go off into a home schooling environment, transferred into that environment as an alternative to expulsion, sort of a way of getting them off the books it sounds like.

Have you — I guess it was sort of a question earlier, but are you saying kids coming back from a home schooling environment and are they coming back from a home schooling environment and what level of preparation, to what degree are they up to speed with their classmates? And then this sort of speaks to a much bigger question and that is Indiana is now sort of it seems nationally a leader or an advocate of choice in the voucher system, and the question is this choice environment, is it — do you feel that it is ultimately contributing to improvement in education or do you think that it is ultimately creating disruption?

MR. SANDERS: Excellent question, and sufficiently complicated. So 588 students, and these were students specifically going to charter or parochial schools, so this did not go into — plan to account for home schooling, which is another caveat, and 68.7 percent of those students did return back to us.

I think the situation that we are experiencing is that you are right, that is kind of the trend to move into the charter experience, but what happens is that we forget about the purpose of this public education situation, which was the center of the community in so many ways, and there is great value in this anchor that was the community school, and we have seen the fragmentation and the value for that unravel in my experience in nearly 20 years in South Bend Public Schools, I have witnessed that. I was at this school both as a teacher and as an assistant principal and saw a time when we had an enrollment of 1500 students and we were shining brightly.

Pg. 222 MR. DOUGLAS: On that topic of people coming — home schoolers or people coming back from alternative sources of education back into public schools, are you seeing whether they are returning at pace with their peers or behind? And I have to admit, I have anecdotal evidence from a principal in Kokomo years ago who was making a comment to me that kids were coming back from home schooling badly behind, I was curious whether that was just an anecdote or a bigger problem.

IAHE Action’s Response: IAHE Action wondered if this was a problem, too, when we read this part of the transcript.  Originally we would not have been surprised if they did.  We assumed that those going from home school to public school may have enrolled because they had difficulty with home education.  We also assumed that perhaps the teaching style was different between one-on-one and the classroom of thirty students and may take an adjustment for the student. IAHE decided to ask families in a survey who enrolled their homeschooled child into public school. Here is what we learned: a few struggled, but the majority did not. They excelled.  At Work For You

IAHE then wondered if public school students who switched to home school were behind? They asked  homeschoolers, and they wanted to share their stories. They decided to list them publicly on their testimonial page. As you can see, these students are thriving with our low regulations.

TESTIMONY: P. 241 Ms. Garcia: As a result, many of us spend hours writing grants so that we can buy the materials we need to engage our students. We need legislators to get out of our way so we can teach and do what’s best for our students. We need more time to spend on character education, conflict resolution, and relationship building without feeling like we are not going to prepare our students to pass a myriad of assessments over the course of the year, including the ISTEP.

IAHE Action’s Response: We agree! Legislators need to get out of our way, so we can teach. The fact we do not take any government money grants us the ability to do what we see fit for our students. Without taxpayer money, legislators cannot inflict upon our students the burdens it has levied on public school students, nor should it. As home educators, we know exactly what these teachers mean. Thirty-three years of an environment unencumbered by legislative mandates has allowed countless students to thrive.

TESTIMONY:  P. 243 We know that if the student is not in our room then they cannot learn. We also know that sometimes no one can learn because one student is in our room.

IAHE Action’s Response: Many parents have chosen homeschooling for a variety of reasons. Home education gives options for those “other” children to receive one on one instruction and excel.

TESTIMONY:  Pg. 251 As a result of no child left behind over the course of my 18-year career as an educator in urban schools, I have seen the shift away from teaching children and toward teaching curriculum. Because of the pressure of tests, I am bound to a fast-paced curriculum map that crams a nine-month school year into five to seven months to get it all in before the ISTEP.

IAHE Action’s Response: In a public school, someone else is teaching a child. The tests are reports to the parent about how their child is learning. These tests are accountability measures parents, legislators and the public use to monitor the value of their public tax dollars in education. As homeschoolers we are thankful we are not forced to cram nine months of lesson plans into five or seven months due to testing. Once again homeschoolers, free from government funding, are able to do what is best for the children we teach and not what the legislature mandates. Tests in the homeschool world serve a different purpose.

Homeschool parents are with their child each and every day giving one-on-one instruction. The primary instructor, or teaching parent, knows the strengths and weaknesses of each child. Testing in the homeschool world merely confirms for parents what is already known. Some parents give standardized tests or tests that accompany curriculum. Others simply observe their child completing lessons and know precisely how their child performed using the results to structure their future lessons. Homeschoolers are able to individualize each and every lesson to meet each and every child, which minimizes the need and impact of high stakes testing.

 

IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 6

This post is our sixth of nine installments regarding the transcript from the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing that was held on February 17, 2016.  Neither Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) nor IAHE Action knew about this meeting until after the fact.  You may read our other posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 99 MS. DAVIS: Tammi Davis, thank you all for your presentations and I also have some challenges with the home schooling issue, at least as it relates here in Indiana. I do have family members who were home schooled and matriculated very well going on to college and post college studies, but one of the challenges that we face with our children, particularly as they are being defined as troubled kids, is that there are challenges at home. So if you have problems at home, you are expelled from school because of behavioral issues and then some adult, whether it is the parent or legal guardian on paper says, well, this child is being home schooled when they may not be actually home schooled because they are not regulated, then that becomes an additional challenge for our kids just being out there in the system.

IAHE Action’s Response: First, let us establish the context of “homeschooler” above. In the second half of the above excerpt, Ms. Davis is clearly talking about public school families who have been forced into homeschooling because of disciplinary actions of the public school administrators. These children are not homeschoolers, but public school dropouts who are not given the support required in their individual cases by school administrators. Contrast this context with that of homeschool parents who have actively chosen from all available educational options to take on the responsibility, expense and labor of home education. The family members Ms. Davis mentions would undoubtedly fall into this category. Equating the two situations requires a gross suspension of reality.

Hard cases make bad law. The answer should be to fix the problem at its source: the public school. Just as forced charity is no charity at all, forced homeschooling does not beget homeschooling.

Parents actively choosing to take a primary role in their children’s education are not the problem here and do not require regulation to do their jobs.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 99. So there are two things that I would like to know, how does one get classified as missing? What has to happen for a student to be determined as a missing child, missing student, number one; and then secondly, what correlation of study has been done relative to the number of homeless children, homeless students as would relate to this issue? Either one of you have done any research or work in that regard?

MS. DANIELS: Well, what I was told in terms of missing is that the child has not shown up to school, either the attendance clerk or social worker has gone to the home and no one is there, they can’t find the child, there is no track record. And so when you have to fill out your little codes at the end of the year what happened to all of your children, you just mark missing.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 100: The other code area that really kind of bothers us is the code area of transferred out of state. We are finding large numbers of youngsters who I don’t believe have transferred out of state but that’s a code that is marked by the school. I just can’t believe 37 kids transferred out of state in one of the schools that we have looked at.

And so there is lots of coding that I think is misplaced in terms of going back to the Department of Ed, which is a loophole which means that these kids are — where are the children? They could be on the streets, they could be — we don’t know. But one of the things that feeds this schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline is the fact that no one knows where — what is happening in that child’s life on a daily basis.

He could be staying with a friend tonight, grandma the next night, somebody else the next night, he is just floating, just floating. So I think that there is things that the state could possibly do in terms of laws and regulations with the Department of Ed and the Department of Corrections which I think would help to identify all these missing children.

We went yesterday to the Indiana Missing Children’s Ledger, thousands of kids from all over the state, different counties, listed. And that was for Tuesday, February 15, that we looked at it and I was just in awe that all those kids are labeled as
missing. Name, birth date, 13-year-olds, 12-year-olds missing? Something is — there is not enough being done. We can talk about numbers, but we have got to talk about lives, we have got to talk about human beings, we have got to talk about our babies, our next, the ones that are supposed to take my place one day. We have got to start talking about where are these babies. And I am just bringing this up because I think that we need to have some help in terms of doing that. We can’t do that by our — we are non-profit, of course non-profits are not funded, we are out of our pockets, but we are willing to do this work because we have deep, deep convictions that we don’t want to see another black child end up in that system. So that’s why we are here today.  At Work For You

TESTIMONY: Pg. 102. MS. DAVIS: Just real quick, do you know the number of days that a student has to be missing out of the classroom before the counselors are dispatched to actually do a follow-up?

MS. DANIELS: They told me the child only has to be at school one day a month not to be considered truant. You know, you miss 29 days, come to school one day, he is not truant. That’s what the principals all told us. So truancy laws is something else that — this is a whole — all that coding needs to be looked at.

IAHE Action’s Response: There are numerous possibilities for why children and their families move from place to place. Possible causes could be immigration status of the parents, frequent relocation due to short-term living arrangements with friends, family or relationships or perhaps a job transfer relocated the family outside the school district. While a stable home environment is best, not all parents are able to provide a consistent living arrangement.

At IAHE, they advise families who leave the public school to homeschool to send a letter informing the school principal of their status change. Anyone not sending a letter could and should expect a truant officer to visit. They also inform their constituency of the laws regulating home education in Indiana. Their members know they must provide the same number of instructional days as the public schools and provide and an equivalent education.

IAHE is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting, educating and advocating for homeschooling parents and their children. Since 1983, they have worked with countless families who are teaching their children and doing an excellent job. IAHE sacrifices to minister to these families, because of the importance of home education in the lives of our families. READ SOME OF THEIR TESTIMONIALS HERE.

IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 5

This post is our fifth of nine installments regarding the transcript from the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing that was held on February 17, 2016.  Neither Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) nor IAHE Action knew about this meeting until after the fact.  You may read our other posts here, here, here, here, and here.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 96. So on one hand it sounds like really this is a bad situation is going on here in Indiana and then on the other hand if it is done, if home schooling is done properly, it has been a saving grace for an awful lot of kids from across the country. So I am just wondering if in your work if you have attempted to isolate this issue as to home schooling as it relates very specifically to expulsion and would there be a way under those circumstances to, I don’t know, to determine whether or not if something could work for this child who is about to be expelled, or if not, if there is an intervention that could occur there so we don’t lose these kids?

IAHE Action’s Response: The key in this part of the testimony is “homeschooling done properly”. Homeschoolers use a variety of methods, curricula, etc., to successfully educate their children. It takes dedicated, engaged parents. The student must respect authority. When both are present, homeschooling works!

“Homeschooling done properly” does not include encouraging a teen with serious behavioral issues and a parent who is unavailable to home educate. The necessary ingredients for proper home education are an involved, present parent; a cooperative, obedient student; and parental time available to instruct the child. If any of these ingredients are missing or disproportional, homeschoolers know it is a recipe for disaster. A student who is unruly cannot be forced to learn.

These students DO have a good life-changing option. The Crossing is an alternative education option seeking to serve students whom would otherwise be government school dropouts. Find more about The Crossing here.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 96. MS. DANIELS: We interviewed three principals, two public and one charter, and they both said, yes, we have engaged in the practice. But we know those kids are not home schooled, they are probably out there. When we talk with the Department of Corrections, on their intake process they do write down what kind of schooling the child has, but it is not in their database. You have to go through every court placement through those records and see who was going to be or who has had home schooling. It is not in a database. So that’s a task in itself to go through all of those records.

But essentially the Department has been notified, they have been really trying to find this information and really trying to do something — find out about what can they do. In long conversations with John Nally, he has been very, very supportive and very, very involved in wanting to see what can we do here.

IAHE Action’s Response: Once again, government school principals engaged in this practice knowing “home” education is not occurring are breaking public trust and running roughshod over the spirit of the law. They are sullying the reputation of countless home educators who are sacrificially educating their children while victimizing dropouts by counseling a path toward the child’s personal failure.

MS. HINER: Pg. 97. If I could get just a quick follow-up, so in the state of Nevada, the public schools will — and they have this expulsion thing also, but what they do is they refer that student to a home schooling expert, someone who isn’t a home schooler and who works within the network of home schoolers in Nevada and they also have very, very few regulations up there as well, but this woman though will talk to the parents, talk to the students and, you know, oftentimes advise against home schooling as an option.

But there is a communication there between the home schooling community and the public school. They work in partnership together so that if it is not right, it is not right and it is not happening. If it is right, well, then that’s a good thing. But there is that linkage there between the public schools and the home schooling community and I was wondering if that sort of thing could work?

IAHE Action’s Response: IAHE Action, curious by this assertion, contacted our friends at the Nevada Homeschool Network (NHN). Their refutation of Ms. Hiner’s testimony is enlightening. You can read their response here:  2016. NHN ltr to US CCR.BKD
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TESTIMONY: Pg. 98. MS. DANIELS: That’s not the case here. That’s not the case as I understand it from the principals that we have talked with, that is not happening. I did speak with charter school, virtual school people, and they are getting lots of — when they started the virtual schools, it was for that affluent family that really could go to the museum and mom was at home and could take the child this place and that place and they would go to the virtual school if it is a hybrid model two days a week, have contact with other children and come home. The virtual schools are basically for high school students and there is very little contact with anyone except through Skype, and the teacher grades a paper and it comes back through the E-mail system. But no one is working with the parent who has accepted the responsibility of home schooling, that’s that loophole that allows this to feed into the School-to-Prison Pipeline or I would call it the Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse Pipeline, but that is exactly what is occurring, at least that’s what I am being told by people who man schools.

IAHE Action’s Response: Let us first establish two definitions. A child enrolled in a virtual charter school cannot be a homeschooler. While the child’s location is physically in the home; the grades, curriculum, programs, and teachers are administered and controlled outside the home by an agent paid by the government with taxpayer funds. Home education has three hallmarks: home-based, parent-directed and self-funded. Virtual public students do not exhibit two of the three criterions for being homeschooled.

As homeschoolers who diligently document our children’s attendance, we have a few questions. If administrators KNOW this is happening, does the Superintendent of Public Instruction or other entity send a truant officer to the home? How many have been prosecuted under the Indiana laws currently in force? Seems to us a good place to start combating this problem is through enforcement of current law.

If one looks at the Homeschool Help Sheet on the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website, the individual will find Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE)’s phone number and website link. It says, “While not a source for textbooks, these organizations can provide guidance about local support groups, choosing curricula, and the “how to’s” of home education.” IAHE has been helping Indiana homeschoolers since 1983. Help is only a call or email away with our 16 Regional Representatives.   They can connect families with local support groups and/or co-ops.  IAHE publishes the Home Education in Indiana book to provide more in-depth information about how to have a solid foundation for homeschooling.  The public libraries across the state have carried this book for many years.   Indiana home educators can find helpful information in IAHE’s The Informer magazine which is also available in libraries across the state and in IAHE podcasts on iTunes; both are available for free.  IAHE’s yearly Convention offers continuing education workshops.  IAHE has discussion groups for encouragement and support. Finally, IAHE Regional Representatives hosts informational workshops to educate parents about home education throughout the state of Indiana.  Local groups may offer these types of events as well.  Homeschoolers who have moved to Indiana from other states claim that homeschool information and support is much more accessible here than in other states where they lived. IAHE makes it a priority.

IAHE has been doing this for over 30 years. They have an annual convention and bring in curriculum vendors, speakers, and continuing education workshops. They recruit regional representatives across the state who field phone inquiries and network with other groups. This provides a volunteer network to help home educators get connected and encourage them in their homeschool journey.

IAHE’s trained regional representatives can correctly evaluate a parent’s true interest in homeschooling in just a few questions. They explain to prospective parents they are taking full responsibility for their child’s education. Some of these parents tell us they are not interested. We then refer them back to their school or the IDOE for other options.

Home education is a privately-funded and parent-directed educational option. Inserting government oversight into homeschooling effectively guts the characteristics of home education. It will no longer be parent-directed, but government directed. It will no longer be self-funded, but taxpayer funded. The only thing remaining would be the child’s location, which is the least meaningful characteristic to the child’s outcome.

A parent wanting or needing another entity to teach, provide curriculum and resources, is not interested in homeschooling. Indiana is blessed with many more suitable options for this parent and child to explore. IAHE encourages them to find the best fit for their child and their situation.

Homeschool parents take personal and financial responsibility for the education of their child. This commitment requires sacrifice and stretching to achieve excellent results. Government school principals who value home education so little as to use it as a disciplinary measure are belittling and besmirching the patient, careful work done in Hoosier homes by parent educators. These principals should be ashamed.

Read Part 6 here.

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IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 2

This is a continuation of the testimony from here. 

TESTIMONY: Pg. 80. “We actually based our thesis on the question of what happens to African American students from low income marginalized communities living in single female head of household with high crime when they accept the option of home schooling in place of an expulsion. Are they falling into this loophole as a percentage of home schooling among African Americans increased nationally and across this state, and do these current factors regarding Indiana’s Home Education Guidelines allow and enable a student to be pushed or counseled out of school.”

IAHE Action’s response: This is NOT a homeschool problem. This is a PUBLIC school problem. When we recently learned this was occurring, we immediately sensed this was a strategy for public schools to avoid rising expulsion numbers while preserving the school’s A-F grading. Unfortunately, attempts to hold public schools accountable have created incentives encouraging schools to coerce families in unsuitable situations into an inappropriate educational option. An out-of-control student and a single parent working three jobs to provide a basic living with little to no knowledge of home education is not a logical candidate for home education. Homeschooling is HARD. A parent must be willing, able and motivated to take full responsibility. Under such conditions, Indiana Code for home education is more than sufficient to ensure academic freedom and outstanding results. Tragically, public schools in Indiana are resorting to educational slight of hand to hide the real state of affairs inside the public system.  SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

TESTIMONY: Pg. 81. “The question is does the policy that home schooling is considered a transfer option without penalties entice a student and parent to select this option over an expulsion. Does home schooling as an option entice the school as well for it lowers the school’s suspension/expulsion count and increases its graduation rate.”

IAHE Action’s Response: If a public school presents only two options to a struggling parent, expulsion or signing a piece of paper to make it all go away, I know which one they will choose. It is the red pill or the blue pill. Just as Neo discovered the ugly reality behind the red pill, the reality behind this decision does not end in home education, but in the lack of education. How many of these families know what home education is when they are posed with this dilemma sitting next to their child in the Principal’s office? Does the principal tell the parents that home education is home-based, PARENT-led and PARENT-funded? Based on the calls Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) has received in the past the answer is a resounding no. The parents have not been given adequate information to make an educated choice.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a homeschooler is a child who is taught at home instead of in a school. IAHE contends instruction from a parent needs to actually occur in the home before a child can be given the title “homeschooler”. As previously noted, Indiana Code requires parents to provide an equivalent education to the public system. A parent who was never told what home education is in the first place will not likely have proper documentation available upon request by the SPI. The Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) can, at any time, request the home school attendance record of any child over the age of seven. If an attendance record cannot be immediately procured, the Superintendent’s office can make further inquiry. If the child is not a homeschooler, then he or she can only logically be classified as a public school dropout. One can quite easily discern a homeschooler from a public school dropout in a few short questions. Of course, proper adjudication of the law as it currently stands by the Indiana Department of Education is first required.

Again, unintended consequences have created an environment rife with misuse of educational options. If a child leaves the public school as a Code 20 homeschooler or Code 31 virtual schooler, it does not affect the public school’s graduation rate or the A-F grade. If the child, however, drops out, it negatively affects both thus providing a strong incentive for the principal to funnel children into specific categories despite the child’s realistic situation. Disincentives for abusing the system should be put in place. IAHE Action has suggestions to share with the Indiana General Assembly.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 81. The next table is an example. This is a school that began way before 2004 but at grade 9 it has 66 children for the year 2004 and 5. By the time of graduation in 2007, they had 14 children. I’m sorry, I am going back a minute. In the following year you have seen a pattern of a number of youngsters that are decreasing yearly within this school. The question is where are these children, where have they all gone? Were they home schooled, were they transferred to other states, where are they?

IAHE Action’s Response: Homeschooling has exploded in growth. Virtual public schools have as well. The pioneers of the modern homeschool movement felt called by God to teach their children for faith-based reasons. A good number still feel “called” to do that, but lately, the two largest reasons are due to safety concerns and due to Common Core.

To avoid truancy charges, IAHE instructs those who plan to home educate to send a letter to the school at the time they remove the student to home school.   Therefore schools should know when a student exits to home education. Do virtual and private schools recommend the same thing? Schools should send a truancy officer to any student’s home that does not show up for school and does not notify the school of their whereabouts.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 82. “The next one is a table of a public school, same situation. Numbers start high, by the time of graduation the numbers are 50 percent. Where are these children? Are they in this loophole? Are they in this School-to-Prison Pipeline?

Home schooling and missing children is a big factor here. Indiana has a whole list, thousands of names of youngsters who are missing. That blew my mind when I talked to IDOE and they named me every school that turned in missing children. This one school had 55 children missing over a two-year period and they had 21 students during that same period that were also removed by the parent to do home schooling. Where are these children?”

IAHE Action’s Response: Removing children from public school does not mean bad things are happening. Due to drugs, violence, and Common Core many desire education alternatives. Unstable single-parent families often move frequently into and out of a school system based on the family’s ability to afford living accommodations. It is an often-repeated refrain regarding the educational challenges of this demographic. One must also ask could faulty record-keeping be a problem on the part of the school? IAHE has had experiences with school administrative staff not knowing the difference between public virtual school and home education. Another possibility could be the transient nature of the children of undocumented workers in the local education system. There are many reasonable explanations for the children a school system can no longer find. Again, IAHE’s advice to families removing their children to homeschool is to send the school administration a letter notifying the school of the parent’s intent.

TESTIMONY:  Pg. 82. DOUGLAS: “I’m sorry, would they be called missing, those that are removed for home schooling? Would they be called missing in this?”

IAHE Action’s Response: Children who have never received anything other than a public school education cannot, by definition, be considered homeschoolers. IAHE is concerned public school children, missing or otherwise, are being lumped in with traditional homeschoolers to mask true “public school” problems with manufactured “homeschool” problems.

Traditional homeschooling is defined by IAHE as: home-based, parent-led and parent-funded. We are seeing great confusion among educators and families alike in discerning the difference between traditional homeschooling and other educational options. Schooling that occurs in the home, but is funded by taxpayers or is controlled by someone other than the parent do not meet IAHE’s definition of home education. There is substantial public confusion regarding what constitutes homeschooling. Numerous families enrolled in virtual public schools such as Hoosier Academy Virtual Charter, Connections Virtual Academy, EVSC Virtual Academy believe themselves to be homeschoolers, but are legally identified as virtual public school students attending an accredited, public school. Homeschools are non-accredited, non-public schools and fall under different legal requirements from the state.

After IAHE made a request, the Indiana Department of Education submitted the following numbers of homeschoolers reporting enrollment for the past five years. Here are the numbers that were provided on December 15, 2015:

2010: 8318
2011: 8530
2012: 6983
2013: 5691
2014: 4257

On February 16, 2016, in a House Education Committee we were told during testimony for SB 334 that the IDOE reported 10,000 students a year were transferred to home education. Which numbers are accurate?

TESTIMONY: Pg. 82. DANIELS: “So in the others, here is one more school that is looking at the enrollment, started with high grade, high numbers, ending with very low numbers. And you have to read this chart in a diagonal, that’s how that’s being read. This is what’s very enticing for us, as we looked at the first school, you will see across the top what those numbers are, 66 started, 14 graduated, the state says they had a graduation rate of 53.2, but we used a different formula, and that formula that we used, this school would have had a 21 percent graduation rate. Where are the children that allow this school to have a 53 percent graduation rate?

Here are our recommendations: There is a statement of conditions and we strongly recommend that the commission investigates the impact of the practices of offering home schooling as an option to expulsions. Training is recommended to be offered for parents around the resources and to understand their role that they are taking on when they say they are going to home school their child. We further recommend that the Commission investigate the factors of missing children and truancy as impacts of this practice.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Current Indiana Code relating to home education does not need to be changed. We do agree the practice of principals encouraging home education to unsuitable candidates due to serious discipline issues and lack of parental support must be stopped. Homeschoolers are not the root cause of this problem at all. More regulations of homeschoolers will not end principal misuse of the homeschool category. IAHE Action has suggestions to curb the problem without harming the freedom of conscientious homeschoolers.

Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) already offers a plethora of avenues for parents to become educated on home education, rights and responsibilities of parents. For 33 years, IAHE has made it their mission to support and encourage families who choose a homeschooling lifestyle. As a means of connecting new homeschoolers to the support needed in their local area, the IAHE has selected 16 experienced homeschooling couples as Regional Representatives. Each Representative is a ‘veteran’ homeschooler who can answer questions from families starting their homeschooling years. They maintain an active Facebook page with over 5,000 likes, a website with resources, podcasts and recommendations for new homeschoolers and publish The Informer magazine with articles of interest to home educators. Every public library in the state of Indiana is sent a copy of The Informer for their patrons’ use. Once a year, we host a large homeschooling convention featuring guest speakers, vendor exhibit hall and activities at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Last year’s attendance at the convention drew 5,000 people. IAHE regional representatives host free “You Can Homeschool” events all across the state to give families a boost when starting out.

In fact, IAHE is having their Convention at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on April 29-30, 2016, and they will have specific classes to get people started off well and others to help them continue to improve as they homeschool their children. This will be their 31st annual Convention.

This year, IAHE has invited the National Black Home Educators to speak about the National Home Education Research Institute’s study on “African American Homeschool Parents’ Motivation for Homeschooling and Their Black Children’s Academic Achievement”. We would love to have you be our guests to learn more about how home education has been a blessing to these families.

As you can see, IAHE is not invisible. They are quite easily found for anyone seeking information on home education in Indiana. Parental training and education in homeschooling is readily available to those who want it, regardless of income. As a matter of fact, they are listed as a resource on the Indiana Department of Education’s website for homeschooling. Institute for Quality Education also lists IAHE as a resource for further exploring this form of education.

TESTIMONY:   Pg. 83. “On the back there is the references that we have used to do our research. This is the very beginning, it is not the end, and we just started this research with IU School of Social Work and the Policy Institute in January and it is still ongoing. We have talked with the Department of Corrections this week, everyone is baffled. This state does not have any statutes that govern home schooling except the ones that we have just shared. Thank you.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Homeschoolers are well organized and have ample resources at their disposal to be successful. Homeschooling is not the issue here. Public schools passing off hard cases appears to be the real problem. Rather than penalizing families who work hard, sacrifice and take responsibility for their children, we need to find a solution to the root cause inside the public school system.

These non-homeschool dropouts have a place to go.  The Crossing, a faith-based school, provides educational services in twenty-eight locations across Indiana to hard case kids. This school wants them. Seeks them out. Loves these kids. Even better, the families do not pay out of pocket for this alternative school. They are change agents ministering to troubled teens through mentorship, education, and job training. Real heart change is happening in these kids under their guidance.

This trend in public schools has been identified and a service has sprung up to handle it. Government oversight and control is not needed in the homeschool community. The potential public school dropouts and expulsions should be referred to an alternative school setting like The Crossing instead of being shoved out of school entirely. As a community of parents who love children and hold education to high esteem, IAHE Action does not understand why the public system does not make better use of the resources available to them.
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The Rise of Homeschool Discrimination

IAHE has had concerns over the past several years as it noticed a shift in the attitudes of some regarding homeschool diplomas.  There have been various instances in Indiana where questions have arisen regarding diplomas; such as, with the military, higher education, and employers.  A case involving an Indiana company, NiSource, was troubling to many homeschoolers as they learned of its discriminatory practice toward homeschoolers.

Home School Legal Defense Association has seen an increasing number of cases of discrimination against homeschoolers.  Listen to Equal Rights for Homeschoolers: An Interview with HSLDA Attorneys from their latest Homeschool Heartbeat to learn more.

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Why IAHE Action?

In recent years, Indiana Association of Home Educators has observed increased threats to parental and home education rights. The threats have been seen in various forms. Christian home education is particularly egregious to many who oppose homeschooling. WEBSITE RGB Action Logo 400x400

As IAHE assessed these threats, they felt like the time had come to commence a new sister organization that is better prepared to meet these needs. Indiana Association of Home Educators Action 501(c)4 was founded to support the mission of the IAHE (c)3 and to act as its lobbying arm. IAHE Action has greater flexibility than the 501(c)3 and is able to perform unlimited lobbying and limited political work.

It is our desire that all Indiana home educators receive legislative updates in order to protect our freedom. As the majority of advocacy transitions from IAHE to IAHE Action, legislative updates will come from Action. Be sure to sign up here to receive our legislative updates.  IAHE Action will also provide a forum that permits posts that IAHE does not.  We are all in this together to protect Indiana home education freedom!

Please share this information with those who value home education freedom.

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