The Seduction of Homeschooling Families

Has the time come for homeschoolers to reevaluate a relationship with the local government school?  Pioneers of the homeschool movement were very leery of any involvement with public schools due to a myriad of reasons.  It appears homeschoolers are not the only ones who foresee a loss of liberty with involvement in this educational system.

Regarding “… homeschool-public school partnerships … In fact, finding ways to draw homeschooling families back to the public school system seems to me a necessary complement to the passage of effective regulations [of homeschoolers]” [p. 39-40]. *

* Reich, Rob. (2001, August 30 – September 2). Testing the boundaries of parental authority over education: The case of homeschooling. Paper prepared for delivery at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, August 30 September 2, 2001.

Indiana Association of Home Educators and IAHE Action have been concerned about the government’s reach into the area of homeschooling.   The word “seduction” is a perfect description.  We may even describe it as two Trojan Horses.  They appear to be gifts, but on closer inspection, there may be hidden, undesired surprises.

The first Trojan Horse is the virtual public charter school.  We have attempted to make a distinction between home schools and these type of schools which are accredited, public schools which are funded by the state.  Homeschools are non-accredited, nonpublic schools which are funded by the parent.  We are pleased to see improved marketing where these schools are now advertised as online, public schools.  In the early days of these programs, many believed they were the same as what IAHE has been advocating for over three decades.  IAHE has spent considerable effort educating the Indiana homeschool community as to the difference.

The second Trojan Horse is the idea of government-funded homeschooling.  For those who are new to the homeschool community, they may not understand that taxpayer funding forces the recipient to have accountability to the government.  This is as it should be.   The best way to protect your autonomy as a parent is to avoid the strings of government-funding.   What “choice” do parents have if all educational options are funded by the taxpayer and therefore under government control?

ESA Trojan Horse

IAHE Action wants to share an excellent article that we believe ties in well with the concerns expressed above.  It is called, “The Seduction of Homeschooling Families” and is from Foundation for Economic Education.

Government Homeschooling Programs Seek to Eliminate Parents’ Choices for Their Children’s Education

Do the public school authorities feel threatened by homeschooling? Judging by their efforts to lure homeschooling families into dependence on local school districts, the answer is apparently yes.

For the last several years, homeschooling has been the fastest growing educational alternative in the country. Estimates of its growth rate typically range from 15 to 25 percent annually. Homeschoolers are notoriously difficult to count; however, the National Homeschooling Research Institute believes that currently 1.2 million children get their education at home. While that constitutes only about 2 percent of all school-age children, it’s more than 20 percent of those who are outside the government educational system. and, with a 20 percent annual growth rate, another quarter million children will join the homeschooling movement this year.

The sheer number of homeschoolers represents a distinct threat to the hegemony of the government school monopoly. Qualitatively, the academic success of homeschoolers, measured by standardized test scores and recruitment by colleges, debunks the myth that parents need to hire credentialed experts to force children to learn.1

Read more here.

IAHE’s Response to the Indiana Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights – Part 9

This post is our ninth 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 IAHE nor IAHE Action knew about this meeting until after the fact when we were informed about it by a concerned special needs advocate who was in attendance to testify about dyslexics in the School to Prison Pipeline.  You may read our other posts here:   intro, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth.

Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) expressed concerns about the 600+ page transcript to Melissa Wojnaroski, Civil Rights Analyst for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Regional Programs Unit.  Debi Ketron was invited to join the Committee for a conference call on April 20, 2016.   An opportunity was permitted to submit written testimony which was provided by IAHE Government Affairs team member, Alison Slatter, and Debi was called upon to provide public comment which was limited to three minutes.  It was decided that IAHE should submit the written testimony since it has been serving Indiana homeschool families for 33 years and doing the very things that were discussed in the transcript.  Attorney Tj Schmidt of HSLDA was on the call as well.  Homeschooling was not mentioned at that meeting by the Committee.  It was noted by the Committee that they now had to consider the conflicting testimony that was submitted for consideration.  You may read the written testimony that was submitted by Indiana Association of Home Educators IAHE School to Prison Pipeline Testimony (1), Home School Legal Defense Association HSLDA-IndianaAdvisoryCommitteeTestimony, National Black Home Educators NBHE Letter April 18_2016, and Nevada Homeschool Network 2016. NHN ltr to US CCR.BKD.  Public comment was provided by IAHE  SPP Oral Testimony 20160420.  We will know the results of the report on June 15.

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IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 7

This post is our seventh 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, herehere, and here.

TESTIMONY:  Dr. Susan Lockwood and I am the director of Juvenile Education for the Indiana Department of Corrections…..
Pg. 141 Then when it comes to how we are measured, one of the things, I found the testimony about the home — or the home school very, very interesting and we — I spoke with the presenter earlier and said it is very easy for us in our schools to add a field in our data system and just start tracking that. What we do is when a student comes to us and we do assessments and try to — we get all the records and place them where they need to be placed as far as education, we look to where the school corporation where he would have attended if he were out on the street, and so that’s the program that we enter into our system.

So we know that when the school goes back — or when the student goes back, we know where we are going to first contact, you know, which school we are going to contact to try to facilitate that re-enrollment. We are measured on being able to connect a youth to a credible program and so obviously it is hard to establish whether or not a student who is home schooled is actually connected to a credible home school program. So that’s what we do.  SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

So what we can do is start asking the youth have you been home schooled, track that data, but basically what we would be doing would be saying these are the number of youth who have come to us who have reported that they are home schooled, which is some data but it is not something that we would really be able to validate because it would be, again, what youth reports to us. So it is not — there is not really a way that we can validate that, but we can definitely do that.

IAHE Action’s Response: Tracking a student’s educational history is a good idea. However, in tracking educational history one must be aware of the different forms of educational instruction including the difference between Public Virtual Charter schools, traditional homeschooling.  Indiana Association of Home Educators would also take great issue with classifying students who have never received instruction in their home or outside of a brick and mortar school building as homeschoolers. As we have stated before, one must actually have received academic instruction in his/her home to be a homeschooler.

Pg. 208 Ms. Hiner: So previously we heard that by — that what often happens is that when a child is ready for expulsion then the alternative is not really an alternative and those are kids who don’t really get educated afterwards and they get lost in the system and are counted as missing children.

IAHE Action’s Response: We would agree that the alternative to expulsion is not really an alternative for these kids. Homeschooling requires cooperative students and a present parent instructing his/her children. Regardless, there does appear to be confusion in the recordkeeping and the categories given. Are these children really missing or are they homeschooled, public virtual school students, dropouts or simply transferred out of the district?

 

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 4

This post is our fourth of nine installments.  If you would like to read more, here’s our original post and the firstsecond, and third installments.  We will post more after the IAHE Convention on April 29-30, 2016.  Support the IAHE Convention to help protect Indiana homeschool freedom.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 94. MR. DOUGLAS: “Do we know what percentage of children in Indiana are home schooled, fall in that home school category?”

MS. DANIELS: “That number, the Department of Ed can’t tell you that because it is up to the parent to call and say I am going to home school my child and enroll that child as being in the home school program. The state, there is no obligation or requirement, it is optional. So most parents that do that do not call the state and say I am going to home school.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Families have a right to privacy. Reporting to the state is not mandatory in Indiana because the laws in our state recognize parents as the primary authority in children’s lives, not the state. Certainly, the state has an interest in an educated citizenry, but it must fall within the compelling interest test, meaning the interest must be met by the least restrictive means. In layman’s terms, the state can only ensure their interests without overly burdensome regulations. The state of Indiana correctly balances the interest of the state with a healthy respect for family autonomy. Parents must keep attendance for 180 instructional days, for children 7 years to 18 years of age or until graduation and provide an equivalent education to the public school. If a parent is in violation, truancy charges can be leveled which lends muscle to the state’s education interests.

Parents, not the state, have a responsibility to provide for their children’s education as set forth by Wisconsin v. Yoder.  Many parents choose to fulfill this obligation using public, private or public virtual schools while home educators take on the task themselves rather than utilizing outside providers. Parents retain the right to direct the education of their child. The overwhelming majority of parents will make the best possible provisions for their children and their particular family situation. It is highly unfair to penalize responsible parents with greater regulation and red tape when irresponsible school administrators have created this problem.

Regardless, we do recognize schools do have some responsibility in knowing what has happened to the children in their schools. Out of respect, IAHE advises families to send a letter to inform the school administrator when a child is no longer in the public school system, but has transferred to a private option. This action also safeguards parents from undue truancy charges.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 95. MS. HINER: Leslie Hiner. “So my question about home schooling is this, that I have — I do work across the country and so I have seen places like Oklahoma in their state constitution, home schooling is a right under their constitution and there is not a single regulation of any kind whatsoever. But this is the part that troubles me, on one hand if these kids are being sent into what they are calling a home school environment in lieu of expulsion, that’s just deeply troubling to me, deeply troubling. The other side to this though is the part that I am more concerned about because I have seen in other states where home schooling is very, very free and open that you will find black parents who come together in home schooling co-ops and educate their kids, especially when they are in a bad situation in the public school, whatever school that they were in prior, take their kids out and the families come together and they home school their kids and they’re doing great. Typically they take nationally learned reference tests and there is access to curriculum, et cetera. And there are an awful lot of home schools across the country where people will communicate and network with each other so that this can actually happen.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Forcing families with troubled children into homeschooling is profoundly troubling to IAHE Action as well. As home educators, we know first-hand the tremendous responsibility involved. Parents unable or unwilling to devote the time, attention and detail needed to homeschool should not be homeschooling.

Indiana, like every other state in the Union, has a large network across the state providing resources, activities and information. These organizations are not hard to find. Our sister organization, Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE), makes a concerted effort to communicate with people throughout the state through various mediums. They have a webpage, Facebook page, Twitter pageblog, a published print magazine, available for free in every library in the state, Pinterest resource pages, Instagram and regional representatives covering every county. Co-ops, which are groups of parents coming together to provide educational support and enrichment to each other’s children, meet regularly. Our regional representatives make it a point to be aware of groups meeting in their areas to better connect new families to a support group or co-op that best suits them. Alternatively, many homeschool parents and families thrive in a more independent environment without joining local support groups. Direct parent involvement is the important factor for home education success.

According to a Statehouse source, Indiana now spends on average $12,443 per pupil which includes all federal, state, and local funding sources.  No matter how you slice it, that is a considerable sum when multiplied by the number of students in the state. Understandably, taxpayers have a right and a responsibility to keep the state accountable. The need for governmental scrutiny has resulted in things like school A-F ratings, tracking graduation rates, teacher evaluations and student standardized assessments. Every single one of these programs were put in place to give the taxpayer concrete ways of evaluating the government’s performance in educating children. In home education in Indiana, no tax dollars are used. Hoosier homeschooling parents control the curriculum and fund all educational pursuits themselves. Nationally, most homeschoolers spend less than $600 per pupil per year in educational costs (2009 Academic Progress Report, HSLDA).

Since no tax money is at stake, what right does the state have in demanding homeschoolers take standardized tests? Home educating parents are already keenly aware of their child’s progress. While many parents freely choose to test their children through various means, some opt to forgo the testing process in the best interests of the child.

Homeschooling parents have regularly proved that standardized testing and vast sums of money are not required to achieve academic excellence. Instead, responsibility, character, and motivation are necessary resources for success.

Read Part 5 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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