Diploma Language on the IDOE Website

Occasionally, Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) or IAHE Action receive inquiries from colleges or employers about homeschool diplomas. A potential employer informed IAHE Action that the State Board of Education (SBOE) had language on its website that stated homeschoolers should get an accredited diploma which was then used by the potential employer to discriminate against a homeschool graduate. We have been unable to locate that language on the SBOE website, but we did find diploma language on the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website.

IAHE and IAHE Action have an excellent working relationship with the IDOE. We believe their language regarding diplomas for homeschoolers could be viewed as a requirement instead of a recommendation or suggestion to obtain an accredited diploma. We suggested updated language and are pleased to report the IDOE and their attorneys accepted our language to make it clear that an accredited diploma is a parental choice and not a mandate by the State. Tens of thousands of Indiana homeschoolers have graduated from their home school program with a non-accredited diploma and have successfully entered college and/or the workforce.

It is our hope the improved language will be beneficial for home educated graduates if there is ever a question about their diploma. 

From the Indiana Department of Education’s Homeschool Help Sheet: Getting a Diploma

Homeschooled children will not receive a diploma from the local public school or from the Indiana Department of EducationIf you are concerned about the type of diploma your child will receive, the IDOE suggests you could use an accredited correspondence program which grants a diploma upon completion.

Students who are issued a diploma by the administrator (parent or legal guardian) of an Indiana homeschool possess a legally issued, non-accredited diploma according to the State of Indiana. Homeschools, like all other non-accredited, nonpublic schools, may legally issue a diploma to students that complete the graduation requirements of that school, as established by that school. Many homeschool parents find their non-accredited diploma, backed by the homeschool program’s transcripts of the high school instruction the student received, accepted by colleges and prospective employers.

Indiana law requires homeschools to give instruction equivalent to public schools but does not bind any requirements set forth with regard to curriculum or the content of educational programs offered by the school. It is strongly recommended that homeschool programs keep good records of the courses taught through high school so that transcripts can be provided to colleges and prospective employers.

Sixteen-year-old home educated students may choose to take the general equivalency exam to earn a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma. The forms required for participation in HSE testing are available at local HSE testing sites, or from http://www.tasctest.com.


IAHE Action is a 501c4 organization, so donations are not tax deductible. IAHE Action is funded by the generosity of our donors.

 

 

 

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IAHE Action Letter to State Board of Education Regarding Diploma Changes

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

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

December 4, 2017

Indiana State Board of Education

200 West Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Members  of the Board:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Alison J. Slatter

Member, Board of Directors

IAHE Action



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

A Brief History of Indiana Homeschool Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protecting homeschool liberty is a continual effort.

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

 

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

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

 

 

The Alliance Calls for National Homeschool Day of Prayer

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

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

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

Sincerely,
IAHE and IAHE Action

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

Background:

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

Prayer Needs:

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

This day of prayer is being supported by:

The Alliance (The National Alliance of Christian Homeschool Leadership)

HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association)

Alliance State Affiliates

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

Homeschooling in Indiana and Nationwide

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

homeschooling-in-indiana-nationwide-1-2-17-11x17-dragged-1homeschooling-in-indiana-nationwide-1-2-17-11x17-dragged

At Work For You

Maintaining the Integrity of Home Education

Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) and IAHE Action protect Hoosier parents’ autonomy to direct the education and upbringing of their children.  We know one of the biggest threats to our liberty is entanglement with government funding. When we hear of the government trying to “help” homeschoolers, we are very cautious as not to jeopardize our liberty. We remember the wise words of our second president, John Adams, “Liberty once lost is lost forever.”


Common Schools

Although Common Schools are mentioned in the Indiana Constitution, we wonder if the State remembers the history of Common Schools? According to E.G. West author of, Education and the State, the Common Schools were only for those families who did not desire to take responsibility to educate their children privately.

Before these government schools began in America, most families were privately educating their children in brick and mortar schools or at home. The Common Schools were first formed in the rural areas for those who did not have access to private brick and mortar schools. Common Schools were not universal, compulsory, or free. Parents had to pay to send their child to a Common School.

Those who benefitted economically from the Common Schools were the ones who advocated that schools become universal, compulsory, and free. Of course, human nature being what it is, people soon flocked to the “free/taxpayer funded” schools and the private options eventually withered. Today, most do not even realize that at one point in our nation’s history most everyone was privately educated, and public schools were basically non-existent. The United States had a very high literacy rate prior to the advent of Common Schools.

We have come full circle. Today, some advocate for the government to have control or “accountability” for all forms of private education through “school choice.” The state of Indiana has accountability requirements for private voucher-accepting schools that require the students to take ISTEP and to collect intrusive student data. Vouchers were originally “sold” to the public as having little to no regulation. Now some private school families whose school accepts voucher students feel like it was a “bait and switch.”  Their private school feels compelled to follow the state standards that resemble Common Core in order to do well on the state test to protect their school rating.

This is a valuable lesson for us to remember.  Home educators must fight hard to maintain our liberty for our families and our posterity.

 

Universal ESAs and Liberty

Should universal ESAs concern homeschoolers? Yes, according to attorney Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project.  In her July 19, 2016, article, “New GOP Platform: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Concerning” she writes, “Now for the troubling parts. The platform focuses a great deal on choice in education and endorses the concept of “portability” of education funding to be used for many different types of schooling (private or parochial schools, homeschooling, etc.) and with many different funding mechanisms (tax credits, vouchers, etc.). While efforts to shatter the government monopoly on education are laudable, extreme caution must be exercised to ensure—if this is even possible—that when government money follows the child, government regulations don’t follow as well. For example, a state that grants vouchers (such as Indiana) may require the private schools that accept voucher students to give the state Common Core-aligned test, which means the private schools will pretty much have to teach Common Core.  

“Choice” that results in all schools’, whether public or private, having to teach the same thing is no choice at all. The platform would have done well to acknowledge this danger.”

Ms. Robbins reminds us that “school choice” has the potential to trample on individual liberty. Universal government programs do not take into account the liberties of the individual even when they assure us that they will.

Nevada Homeschool Network learned this first-hand with Nevada’s ESA bill. There was an attempt to use their homeschool statute as the vehicle for the ESA bill. They were told they didn’t have to accept the ESA money if they didn’t want it. They fought too hard to gain their homeschool freedom after many years of bad homeschool regulations to take a chance on it. As we have recently seen in Indiana, confusion between virtual charter school students and home educated students has resulted in a threat of increased regulations for the homeschoolers. ESAs would cause increased confusion.

Homeschoolers always need to be concerned about guarding liberty and parental rights when dealing with elected officials and bureaucrats who think they are responsible for the education of all children and for determining how that education should present itself. IAHE has spent 33+ years protecting our rights.  Whenever a government “freebie” is accepted, there is ALWAYS a risk to liberty.


Indiana is a Leader in Home Education Freedom

We have excellent laws in Indiana that protect a parent’s right to educate their children.  The Indiana Constitution provides for schools that are open to all, but it does not say that all must be educated in a Common School under government control.

Homeschoolers do not accept state funding and do not have to register with the State; although, we may report enrollment.  We have the freedom to direct our children’s education and are not forced to submit test results to the State. As homeschool parents understand, we do not need to have a standardized test to inform us of our child’s progress. Teaching our children on a daily basis enables us to know how they are progressing. The Superintendent has the ability to check on students by requesting attendance records. Indiana also has educational neglect and truancy laws to deal with any issues that may arise.

When we are not entangled with the State, we have the ability to do what is the best for our children. We have the freedom to teach in the manner that best suits their needs.  As Dr. Karen Effrem of Education Liberty Watch shares, Indiana is rated an “F” on the Private School Choice Freedom Grading Scale due to the regulations associated with vouchers in the Hoosier state.  The schools that take vouchers must administer ISTEP; therefore, many schools feel obligated to teach Indiana’s version of Common Core in order to do well on the test.  

In order to be reimbursed for ESA expenses, families must submit receipts for expenses. Would homeschool families eventually be at risk for using faith-based or non-Common Core curriculum? Would the State decide we are not providing an equivalent education since they would have the ability to evaluate our curriculum?  The State ultimately decides which “choices” are acceptable. The State in charge of deciding which curriculum or providers are acceptable is a very troubling proposition. Homeschoolers currently have a real choice that is not limited by the State.

Home education works! Hoosier homeschoolers have proven that families of all income levels can successfully homeschool apart from government involvement. Leave us alone! The fact that families take this responsibility without State involvement should be encouraged. It increases self-respect and self-sufficiency.  The IAHE Testimonial page is a source of encouraging stories of Hoosier families who have educated their children without government assistance.

Over the course of the past three decades, Hoosier home educators have proven it does not take a lot of money to educate a child. Many have had the experience of eventually having children who end up being better educated than their parents. It takes a dedicated parent and not an exorbitant amount of money to educate a child.

Note: There are a variety of types of ESAs.  IAHE Action will assess each one and alert homeschoolers about required strings.

Seven Reasons Why Indiana Homeschoolers Do Not Need More Regulation

This post originally appeared on the Indiana Association of Home Educators blog in October 2015.

Homeschooling has been a tradition in Indiana for over a century. Due to the longstanding legal environment regarding home education in Indiana, we have seen how less regulation facilitates the parent-directed learning experience. Below are some reasons the Indiana homeschool law works successfully.

 

1.)  We have the right to operate as a private school. 

The Indiana Appellate Court held that the Indiana compulsory attendance law must treat home school programs the same as a private school. In State v. Peterman, 70 N.E. 550 (Ind. App. 1904, the Court said a school at home is a private school.

The Court defined a school as “a place where instruction is imparted to the young… We do not think that the number of persons, whether one or many, make a place where instruction is imparted any less or any more a school.” Peterman, 70 N.E. at 551. The court explained further: “Under a law very similar to ours, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts has held that the object and purpose of a compulsory educational law are that all the children shall be educated, not that they shall be educated in any particular way.” Peterman, 70 N.E. at 551.

The Court concluded: “The result to be obtained, and not the means or manner of attaining it, was the goal which the lawmakers were attempting to reach. The [compulsory attendance] law was made for the parent, who does not educate his child, and not for the parent who…so places within the reach of the child the opportunity and means of acquiring an education equal to that obtainable in the public schools….” Peterman, 70 N.E. at 552.

 

2.)  Since 1983, the Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) has provided support and assistance to Indiana families interested in home education. Parents who choose to homeschool have a readily available network of resources to help them start and continue their homeschooling journey. For parents who do not understand any particular aspect of their responsibilities, there is an established network of experienced and successful homeschoolers who are available to assist and answer their questions. We recommend all home educators connect with IAHE and utilize the resources available to them. We also recommend families seek out and connect with other home educators in their community.

 

3.)  Parent-directed, privately-funded home education is successful.

Multiple studies show that homeschoolers score at/or above their public school peers on standardized tests. No matter what type of K-12 education is chosen for a child it requires the active involvement of parents to be successful. Homeschooling parents are already highly motivated to be involved in their children’s education. Very few parents take on such a huge responsibility without a commitment to education and a belief (if not a conviction) that they can do as well as the public school. Parents who are willing to take on this responsibility rarely do it without counting the cost, both in dollars and time.

 

4.) We provide a comparable education to the public schools.

Indiana law requires parents to provide instruction that is comparable to what is provided in the public school. Parents choose to homeschool for many reasons, but most also recognize the unique ways in which their children learn. Many parents who homeschool begin to investigate their options when their children are preschoolers, while others, finding their child struggling in the traditional public school setting, desire to enhance and not hinder their children’s educational experience. Homeschooling resources have exploded in the marketplace. One look at a homeschool convention will tell you there is no lack of educational materials available for homeschoolers to use. All have one thing in common, however: a comparable, if not superior, education to the public schools.

 

5.) The state has the authority and ability to investigate and prosecute if there are problems.

The state already has the ability to investigate and prosecute if there are problems. State laws already prohibit parents from neglecting or abusing their children. The fact that there may be the occasional parent who does not adequately educate his or her child doesn’t negate all of the excellent parents who homeschool any more than a few poorly-rated public schools do not negate the excellent public schools out there. A few isolated situations of parents who have been prosecuted for failing to properly educate their children have resulted in their children being placed back into the public school system.

While the state should be concerned with the abuse or neglect of all children, regardless of where they are educated, there are plenty of ways to locate and identify abusive parents without having to further regulate homeschooling in our state. While most homeschool support groups are there to provide assistance when a parent needs help in educating his or her child, there have been reports to the authorities within these groups when a parent has demonstrated a failure to ensure their child is educated. Even if more homeschool regulations were passed, it would not catch all abusive parents any more than public schools catch all of the abusive parents with children in their schools.

 

6.) Homeschoolers have a higher percentage of college graduates than public schools.

While many factors may influence why some students graduate from college and others do not, it should come as no surprise that homeschoolers find the transition to college much easier than their public school counterpart. First of all, homeschool parents tend to give more independence to their children to take charge of their education by the time they are juniors and seniors in high school. One of the goals of homeschooling is to teach children how to teach themselves. Another is to give a student a love for learning.

College is no different, and many colleges seek out homeschool students because they have seen how homeschoolers are not focused on learning only to pass a test or to get a good grade, but they learn because they love to learn.

Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society. One of their goals is to recognize students who “love to learn.” If this collegiate honor society understands that the most successful people must have a love for learning, then perhaps this also explains why so many homeschoolers successfully obtain a college diploma.

 

7.) Homeschooling parents are responsible parents.

Clearly, this doesn’t mean parents who do not homeschool are not responsible, but rarely do you find parents who are as committed to the education of their children than homeschooling parents. They take their parenting responsibilities seriously and strive to help their children, whether they are gifted or struggling learners, to become productive members of our society. Homeschoolers come from many different backgrounds and philosophies, so one cannot generalize; however, homeschooling results in as much character training for the parent as it does for the student. Parents who homeschool over many years realize the road isn’t easy, but they homeschool because they believe it is best for their family and their children. Those who try it and return their children to public or private schools do it for many reasons as well. The state or public school system will never replace a parent’s love and care for a child. We should always expect and believe that parents above anyone else are responsible, accountable, and motivated as home educators because they love their children.

For additional information on how homeschooling compares with public schooling: Click here.

 

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Camille Cantwell graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Journalism and Political Science. She worked for the Wisconsin State Assembly and Governor Tommy Thompson until 1989. She received her law degree from Regent University and was admitted to practice law in Indiana in 1993. Her license is currently on inactive status. She and her husband, David, have graduated their oldest son from their home school and are currently homeschooling their high school-age son.