Tag Archives: Nevada Homeschool Network

Education Liberty versus School Choice

Our friends at Nevada Homeschool Network were forced to aggressively defend their homeschool law in 2015 when School Choice advocates attempted to use it as the vehicle for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).  They fought for many years to remove onerous homeschool regulations in Nevada, so they now must protect the liberty they have gained.  

They have done extensive research about ESAs (in Indiana we are seeing them called Education Scholarship Accounts or Education Option Accounts.)  They are education subsidies that are accompanied by regulation.  We have asked if we could share their research. They issues they raise in Nevada are applicable in Indiana.

As the 2017 Nevada Legislative session approaches, homeschool parents and advocates must stay engaged in the debate over “government funded school choice” and the impact on homeschool freedom; Education Liberty, or #EdLiberty for short.
We must understand and proclaim the Biblical truth that ALL parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their own children, not the state.  But when private schools/parents accept “state funding” the government takes control, not the parent!

1/23/2017 – Question:  Why shouldn’t NV Legislator’s regulate self-funded homeschooling if they vote for funding the ESA program that does come under government control?

Answer:  Parents have the fundamental right to direct the health, education, and welfare of the child which is upheld in Nevada statute, case law and by the US Supreme Court. Homeschool parents in Nevada who do not accept taxpayer funding have the ultimate right and responsibility to ensure that their children are educated within the framework of the child’s age and abilities, as determined by the parent. However, the court may intercede in the event of “education neglect” as allowed in NV statute. So, in Nevada the “best interest” of a child who is homeschooled is determined by their parents or guardians, not the government, which is in line with the views of delegates to the 1884 writing of the Nevada Constitution and upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Blog Update:  January 22, 2017 – Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer Emeritus

Click here for printable version of 1/22/17 update.

Self-funded Private Education vs. Government Funded School Choice:

The Liberty of Parents and Private Schools vs. Government Control

  1. Nevada’s “Education Savings Account” program now being proclaimed “the model” for other states in the publicly funded “school choice” debate.  Or is it? 

Background:  During the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session, State Senator Scott Hammond requested a Bill Draft Resolution (BDR) for a government funded alternative education option for Nevada K-12 students. The Friedman Foundation (renamed EdChoice in 2016) assisted Senator Hammond in the writing of SB 302, the Nevada Education Savings Account bill.  What makes Nevada’s ESA unique from existing smaller programs in four other states (Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee) is that it is “universal”, meaning it is not “means” or “needs” tested and is available to all NV public school students enrolled for a minimum of 100 days regardless of family income level or school failure rates.

Authors of SB 302 proclaimed, “It allows parents to remove their children from their assigned public schools and access a portion or all of their children’s public education funding to pay for services like private school tuition, curriculum, learning therapies, tutoring and more.” [i] This new program passed the 2015 NV Legislature along strict party lines (all Republicans in support, all Democrats opposed).[ii] [1]  Currently, state legislatures in Texas, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and even President-elect Trumps’ new administration are mulling government funded ESAs to expand “school choice” in 2017 and the Nevada ESA program is the model for many of the proposals.

An Education Savings Account (ESA) program is different from a “voucher” they say, since money from the state’s Distributive School Account (DSA) is not being paid directly from the state to a religious private school (Blaine Amendments in many state constitutions prohibit the use of public funding for sectarian purposes).  Rather, the money (between $5,100 to $5,700 in NV) is to go from the state’s Distributive School Account into the Education Savings Account in the name of the child, whose parents then choose from government “approved” resources where to spend the money so that the child receives an education as compelled by state compulsory attendance laws.[iii] This, proponents say, means the parent, not the state, is choosing the education modality for the child and the parent is then “empowered” to choose a private religious school or use religious materials for the education of their child. The NV Supreme Court upheld this in Schwartz v. Lopez.[iv]  However, this new “empowerment” called “school choice” is still controlled by government when compared to self-funded, private homeschooling that is rooted in the parent’s right to direct the education of their child, free from government control, in other words, Education Liberty.

Read more here.

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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.

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 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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