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 3

This post is our third installment.  If you want to read more, here’s our original post, and the first and second installments.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 87 Ms. Hanger of Children’s Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana. “I do want to point out that some of the rates are involved with charter schools and the schools that Diana Daniels mentioned, I saw one in particular, in a school that has a very high suspension rate. So I have always looked at these issues as far as school discipline is concerned, it is a continuum. You can’t just look at suspension, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, you have to look at the entire continuum of discipline which includes alternative education, home schooling, and the like or you can’t see what’s happening to these children. I am getting behind.”

IAHE Action’s response: This is a curious purpose for homeschooling. The assertion that homeschooling is a form of discipline simply does not hold up under scrutiny. Among the reasons reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, not one cited disciplinary problems. The closest possible candidates would be for physical or mental health issues. I think we can all agree those are valid reasons far more complex than getting in trouble. 

Home education is an honor and a joy, not a consequence of bad behavior. In response to this transcript we asked our members to share their homeschool success stories. The ability to tailor a child’s lessons to their needs is education at its finest. It is sad to read public educators think so poorly of a completely natural form of education.


TESTIMONY:
Pg. 92.  MR. DOUGLAS: “My apologies for my interruption earlier. I just have a point of clarification on these numbers which are alarming, and that was on your slide in which you said that this Northwest High School report that 55 missing children in a two-year period, 21 students were removed by parents for home schooling in the same period, so that is saying that in addition to 55 who are missing, there are 22 that were transferred over to home schooling?”

MS. DANIELS: “That’s correct. Those come out of the mobility rate and under that listing of codes, each code has a different number and so there is a code for home schooling, there is a code for removed by parent, which is for home schooling. Then there is also a code for missing children. So the 55 are missing children, kids who just can’t be found. The home schooling number is that number 21, those were students that were removed by their parent to take home and to teach. That’s just one school. We have schools that we are looking at across the state and as those numbers come in, we will be able to really be able to tell how many of these students are missing in those schools. When I say missing, they can’t be found, they just walked away and the school doesn’t know where they are so they mark this Code saying missing.

The home schooling is when the parent comes to the exit meeting with the school that’s going to expel the child, and in the meeting the principal can offer a transfer so that there is no expulsion on the record. So the transfer is to the home. And so that transfer to mom, who is probably working if you have to work, living maybe not in the best of the neighborhoods in the city, and maybe not having total control over Junior, takes the responsibility of home schooling that child. So Junior is not getting much schooling and he is probably in the streets.”

IAHE Action’s Response: In 2013, Indiana Code was amended to correct the problem. Prior to this time, administrators regularly labeled children as homeschoolers to pad their graduation rates and maintain school performance ratings. The new law was an attempt by the school to educate the family regarding the requirements of home education. The principal would sign the form to acknowledge that they instructed parents about the legal requirements of home education in Indiana. The parent would sign it to acknowledge that they understood home education requirements. If no education actually took place, the student is not a homeschooler, but a truant. 

Once again, when a parent is faced with expulsion or signing a piece of paper for it to all go away we know what will happen. So does the principal. It’s not rocket science. Everyone sitting in that office knows this is not going to work. The administrator has an obligation to the parent, child and public to make appropriate “change of placement” recommendations. Home education is not appropriate advice for hypothetical Junior or his mother. It is irresponsible on the part of the school.

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TESTIMONY: Pg. 94. MR. DOUGLAS: “Does Junior get tests of any sort?

MS. DANIELS:  No, if you are a home school child, you do not get any state testing. You don’t take any ISTEP or anything, you do not get a diploma, you get a GED if you pass the GED exam at one of the GED centers, which I understand is very difficult to pass according to the Department of Corrections.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Homeschool students are regularly tested with assessments associated with their curriculum. Parents have a variety of options that they may use if they desire a standardized test, such as, the Stanford Achievement Test, Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), and the California Achievement Test (CAT). Testing in the home education context has an entirely different purpose than in the public schools. For home educators, it is merely to confirm what the parent already knows to be true. Many parents use every task given as a “test”. Either the student can complete the assignment or not. If they still need assistance, further instruction is necessary. For others, standardized testing is an unnecessary stressor, particularly in the early years. In homeschooling, learning is viewed as a lifelong, joyous pursuit. An anxiety-inducing exercise of regular standardized testing is the opposite of the parents’ goal.

Public schools use standardized testing to evaluate teaching staff, school curriculum and programs. It also serves as a “performance” review for teachers and students, since parents are not present the majority of the school day. None of these goals are necessary or even advantageous in the home environment. Parents know when their child gets a concept or not.

Homeschool diplomas are legally binding documents. These diplomas are readily accepted by universities, the military and other educational entities. The GED (now called TASC) is neither needed nor recommended.