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What About SB266?

We applaud the intentions of the authors to address the concerns that public schools are facing today, but tragic situations lead to bad legislation.

IAHE Action, along with our sister organization IAHE, continues to receive questions about SB266. As we wait with so many of you to see the bill’s status, we thought it would be helpful to share a recap of recent events.

When Senate Bill 266 was originally introduced on January 7, 2019, it was only nine pages long. The original intent of the bill was to address public school issues of mental health screening, safety, privacy, and other education matters.

By mid-February, the bill passed through the Appropriations Committee and emerged as a monstrosity far beyond the scope of the original. The revised bill shifted from providing services in the public school to a mandate for local schools to in essence become mental health providers for ALL children from birth through the age of 22.

Suddenly, a bill to address public school issues became a serious threat for ALL parents.

Compare the bill’s language from the original to the latest draft:

Prior to the Senate’s third reading, IAHE Action spoke with one of the bill’s co-authors Senator Dennis Kruse. He shared that the bill no longer held the protections he had worked to include. He shared that if the protections that he had fought for were not reinstated he would vote against the bill.

In February, Freedom Project said:

The legislation, dubbed SB 266, also furthers government meddling in the lives of children from birth through age 22. All children will be routinely screened for “mental-health” issues, with schools becoming de facto mental-health institutions. Indiana activists slammed the provisions as another step toward government control from cradle to grave.

Alex Newman 

Watch the Freedom Project Media’s, Duke Pesta, discuss the impact of this bill.

Testimony before the Senate on February 26th was heartfelt on both sides. One of the bill’s authors, Sen Crider, shared that the bill was written in the face of the May 2018 shooting in Noblesville. IAHE Action agrees that the public schools need effective tools to address the challenges that they are facing, but SB 266 gives authority to the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to target and identify any child for mental health screening. It is clear that the public school system is facing a severe crisis of addressing the needs of their students but as Sen Young testified “this bill will haunt you.”

It’s clear that the intentions of the original bill have been buried beneath an outside agenda.

In spite of an outcry of concern, the bill passed the Senate 29 to 20 and Sen Kruse removed himself as a co-author after the bill passed.

How did your Senator vote?

Check the Roll Call here.

Intentions of men vs. a very bad bill

In spite of the quiet during the middle of the legislative session, SB 266 is still alive and waiting for a hearing before the House Education Committee. Earlier this month we spoke with Sen Head about our concerns. He shared that the bill as it passed through the Senate was being amended and that the concerns being expressed by IAHE, IAHE Action, and many others would be addressed before the bill reached the House.

Is it possible for the authors to revise SB 266 to a point that addresses ALL of the concerns? Not likely. We applaud the intentions of the authors to address the concerns that public schools are facing today, but tragic situations lead to bad legislation.

Advance America

What’s next?

IAHE Action is actively watching for the reemergence of SB 266 in the House. Many people have been proactive with calling their Representatives and urging them to vote no on this bill… even though it has not been filed or scheduled for a hearing yet.

How different will the bill be once it shows back up? No one knows.

Will another bill take it’s place?

Sunday, March 17th, an article in the Pharos Tribune highlighted that a similar bill from the House (HB 1004) is in place to address these same issues in a manner with the same disregard for parental rights as SB 266.

Indiana Liberty Coalition shared:

House Bill 1004 is scheduled to be heard tomorrow afternoon in the Senate Education Committee. This bill is nearly as bad as SB266. It will allow government schools to set up the same mental health services/providers in schools along with social-emotional wellness services. We’ve shared with you many dangers on social-emotional learning and what is coming. This bill also includes the Youth Risk Behavior Survey which is a survey loaded with sexual questions and drives the funding for comprehensive sex ed into Indiana.

Neither bill is targeting the homeschool community on the surface, but full-scale attacks on parental rights will impact all parents. Both bills have now crossed over to the other side of the Indiana General Assembly and are facing new hearings. Both bills are still on the table for the second half of the session and IAHE Action encourages you to stay alert.

HB 1004: Call to Action

Call the Senate Education Committee and ask them to vote “NO” on HB1004.
Senate: (800) 382-9467
Chairman: Sen. Raatz (bill sponsor)
VP Chairman: Sen. Crane
Majority Members: Sen. Buchanan, Sen. Freeman, Sen. Kruse, Sen. Leising, Sen. Rogers and Sen. Spartz
Minority Members: Sen. Melton, Sen. Mrvan and Sen. Stoops

SB 266: Call to Action

Call the House Education Committee members and ask them to vote “NO” on SB 266.
House: (317) 232-9600
Chairman: Rep. Robert Behning
Vice Chair: Rep. Anthony Cook
Majority Members: Rep. Woody Burton, Rep. Edward Clere, Rep. Dale DeVon, Rep. Chuck Goodrich, Rep. Jack Jordon, and Rep. Jim Lucas
Minority Members: Rep. Vernon Smith, Rep. Edward DeLaney, Rep. Shelia Klinker, and Rep. Tonya Pfaff

UPDATE SB266: Mental Health Screening

Last week, IAHE Action shared about Senate Bill 266 which allows for mental health screening for all children through the age of 22. (Read the original post here.) Based on our conversations with one of the bill’s authors Sen Dennis Kruse we asked families to call and ask for the original language of the bill to be reinstated.

What has become clear since that time is that under the guise of mental health, SB 266 will give the government wide-reaching powers beyond what it already has to test, evaluate and treat our children.

Senate Bill 266 has become a massive vehicle to cover a variety of mental health programs paid for by the State of Indiana. What we originally liked about SB 266 was the effort to give schools tools balanced by various protections and penalties that Sen. Kruse had placed into the bill.

But below the surface, the bill gives control over our children’s well being to the state. When the government decides it’s their responsibility to evaluate the mental health of all children, we know that means parents will have fewer rights recognized to raise their children as they see fit.

At this point we don’t believe the bill can even be amended to our satisfaction. 

We are encouraging you to contact your State Senator and ask them to vote no on SB 266

Find your legislator here.

Read More

Indiana Education Bill Seeks “Mental Health” Control Of
All Kids

IN Senate Bill 266 Gives State/School Parental Power Over Students’ Mental Health from Birth to Age 22 – by Jeannie Georges

What Is The Cost of a Home Visit?

SB 266: Mental Health Screening for All Children

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we saw an uprising on Facebook with a call to action over proposed legislation, SB 266. It’s the kind of bill we worry about every day the General Assembly is in session. You should know, right off the bat, we need you to contact your State Senator right away.

One of our closest allies in the State Senate, veteran home school parent and former Education Chair, Sen. Dennis Kruse, informed us that SB 266 was amended in a committee hearing last week.

And, he’s not happy about it one bit. In fact, even though he’s listed as a co-author of the bill, he told us that he plans to vote against the bill unless the bill is fixed.

You see, SB 266 is the BIG attempt this year to expand mental health services into the schools. Public, charter, private, all of them. And that means schools will be in the business of conducting psychiatric and mental health surveys and treatments on children from birth to age 22.

While the bill pays lip-service to parental consent, Sen. Kruse had wisely added into the bill a variety of protections for parents and students and also penalties for schools that didn’t follow the law.

But the public-school lobby quickly moved into action and had Sen. Kruse’s protections stripped from SB 266.

As the bill stands now, the schools could prescribe a psychological evaluation or treatment to a minor without fear of penalty of the law.

We have seen way too many instances over the years of where schools are ignoring the law and trampling the rights of parents and our kids. Having clear penalties for violations of protected health information and consent is the least we can ask for.

Right now under the guise of “mental health” Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly are moving ahead to let schools do whatever they please and spending millions to do it.

Please call your Senator today at 800-382-9467 and demand they restore Sen. Kruse’s protections and penalties in SB 266.

We can’t take any vote for granted. The next vote will be before the entire Senate.

If enough Senators hear from us right now, we can get this bill fixed so that schools will be accountable to the law.

Please do all you can.

Rob Besiwenger
rob@iaheaction.net

2019 Bill Watch – Kindergarten and Compulsory School Age

IAHE and IAHE Action continue to work with legislators to promote a parent’s right to educate their child at home and to act in the best interest of the child. We believe that all efforts to lower the Compulsory School Age should be stopped and with your help will make sure our elected officials in Indianapolis hear our voices.

Every year the IAHE and IAHE Action watch as legislators are asked once again to lower the compulsory school age. The 2019 session is no different.

Currently, in Indiana, the compulsory school age is seven. However, House Bill 1408 and Senate Bill 318 recommend lowering it to five. House Bill 1089 proposes allowing four-year-olds to attend school; however, it is not asking for mandatory enrollment at this age.

The IAHE and IAHE Action believe that parents are the best people to decide if a child is ready for formal education.

Many teachers and school administrators complain about the increase in student behavioral issues (ADD, ADHD etc.) and we can’t help but wonder if they should consider whether this is a result of formal education simply starting too early.

While this might appear to be a public school issue, experience tells us the government paves with a very broad brush, and these changes will eventually force home educators to start educating their children at an earlier age.

Just a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a member of the House Education Committee. He told me there was data suggesting some kids would benefit from an earlier start. But, the fact is that there is research on both sides of the issue.

A recent Harvard study highlighted many of the problems associated with early school enrollment: “researchers discovered that children who start school as among the youngest in their grade have a much greater likelihood of getting an ADHD diagnosis than older children in their grade. In fact, for the U.S. states studied with a September 1st enrollment cut-off date, children born in August were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers.”

The first obvious problem is that kindergarten is already available for students voluntarily. That leaves a small number, maybe 7,000 children, across the state who aren’t enrolling in kindergarten already.

Fans of lowering the compulsory school age claim that 5,000 of these children are “at risk.” Now you’re probably wondering, what does “at risk” mean? As best we can tell it means they are being serviced by the Department of Child Services, Correction Services, Family and Social Services, or the juvenile justice system.

Proponents of lowering the Compulsory School Age claim that children starting school earlier leads to improved educational outcomes. However, an analysis by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute of a study cited by many advocates of lowering the age shows it relies on data from an “unpublished draft.”

This “data” cited by proponents seems to be a mirage.

Homeschoolers are often more relaxed in their approach to early education since they have a flexibility that is not available in the public school system. If a homeschool student is not ready for a concept, a parent can wait a bit and circle back to it at a later date. Parents know that by waiting to address an issue when the child is ready, they can learn the concept much more quickly. Waiting did not hurt but helped.

Our children are not “cookie cutter” kids. Some will be ready for a “formal” education earlier than others. We also see a more relaxed approach resulting in high levels of success in Finland’s school system. (((citation))) Compulsory school age is seven, playtime is beneficial, and the love of learning for learning’s sake is emphasized over assessments. Learning is (or should be) fun for young children!

IAHE and IAHE Action continue to work with legislators to promote a parent’s right to educate their child at home and to act in the best interest of the child. We believe that all efforts to lower the Compulsory School Age should be stopped and with your help will make sure our elected officials in Indianapolis hear our voices.

How can you help?

Let your legislators know that you don’t want to see the compulsory school age lowered.

Senate: Education and Career Development Committee

House: Education Committee

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Your donations to IAHE and IAHE Action help maintain our homeschool freedom in Indiana.

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International Compulsory Attendance Age

By: Alison Slatter and Bridgette Whitlow-Spurlock

This year, the Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction has vocally led the charge to lower the compulsory attendance in the state of Indiana. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) published a nice, full-color, eight-page handout laying out the arguments including a list of all 50 States’ compulsory attendance ages. This was to highlight how “backward” Indiana’s seven-year-old compulsory age is in comparison to the rest of America. Indiana is not alone. There are twelve other states who have chosen the same or older age.

Considering the fact the United States regularly tests squarely in the middle of the International PISA exam results, is it wise to look to ourselves for education models? Does the IDOE publication use the right yardstick with which to measure our state? Perhaps it might be better to look at the top scorers of the international PISA test to judge the wisdom of a compulsory attendance age of 7 years old.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) does not follow the pattern of most exams. This test is designed to identify critical thinking, problem-solving and communications skills, not academic exercises that test memorization, teachers or curricula performance. On the PISA test, one must know how to manipulate the knowledge in their heads, not just spit out information. For example, questions regarding monetary matters require students to devise their own monetary system from which to arrive at the answer.  It is not enough to know how their country’s money system works. They must be able to mentally re-create a monetary system demonstrating a thorough knowledge of how money works in math and in society. Amanda Ripley does an excellent job walking through the PISA exam in her book, “The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way”.

So, when do the “smartest kids in the world” start school? Finland, whose educational reform has recently gained renown, scored in the top ten of the PISA science and reading exam and has a compulsory attendance of age seven. Our northern neighbors, Canada, have compulsory attendance beginning at six or seven years, depending on the province. Singapore scored first on all three PISA tests (reading, science, and math) and has a compulsory attendance age of six.  Japan also ranked on all three exams and also boasts an age six start. The small eastern European country of Estonia made the list on all three exams with a seven-year-old beginning to formal education. Hong Kong children can start as young as three to six years in Kindergarten, but primary school does not begin until seven years of age.

The countries listed above have all been recognized, for many years, by academic excellence, yet none of them start primary school at age 5. Also note, the countries who scored well come from vastly different cultures and continents. It is hard to believe American children are somehow developmentally different from children in Europe, Asia, and Canada.

More and more studies are beginning to cast shadows onto just how effective lower compulsory attendance is to socio-emotional learning, physical health, college entrance, and graduation. These are all excellent questions to ponder when making sweeping public policy changes on all children, depriving 100% of parents their rights to determine the appropriate age to begin formal education.  While there is no opposition to making education available at earlier ages when ready, there should be vigorous opposition to mandatory early start ages for formal education.

Parents, not the government, remain the best authority on the readiness of their children to start full-day Kindergarten five days a week. Let’s also make sure we are measuring success by those who have proven successful.

Learn More

Social and Cognitive Impact on Children:

Physical Health:

Finland Schools:

The heart of the conflict – The Natural Right of the Parent to Control their Children’s Upbringing vs. State Power

Currently, almost all students in Indiana go to public school kindergarten. But, parents have a choice to delay formal education until age 7.

There are people who want to take that right away from parents. If the compulsory school age is lowered, all 5 and 6-year-old children will be forced to begin formal education at age 5, even if their parents think they are not developmentally ready.

In the history of compulsory schooling, there has long been a struggle between parents and the state. Parents have a natural right to control their children’s upbringing, but the state uses the legal doctrine of “parens patriae” to “do what is necessary to protect the child’s welfare, even if such actions diminish parental control.”

We take compulsory schooling for granted, but it was not always this way. Thomas Jefferson said,

“It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by the forcible asportation and education of the infant against the will of the father.”

This sounds like such a radical statement to modern ears, doesn’t it? But now we have had compulsory schooling for so long that we assume it must be kept. It’s a slippery slope to keep pushing the kids into formal school younger and younger, stripping away parental rights to raise and educate our own children. 

The time to fight against a proposed educational change is now, before the change has been declared law. Before the change has become part of our society as “the way it is.” When states have done things such as banning private schools, banning the teaching of foreign languages in public schools, forced Amish people to attend school after 8th grade (contrary to their religious beliefs), and made it compulsory to salute a flag, then parents have had to go to court to fight for their rights.

The lowest compulsory school age in Indiana is 7, and it has been 7 for a very long time. It’s not logical to link starting school at age 7 to a poorer educational outcome, when the compulsory school age has remained 7 for such a very long time. This is an expansion of government reach.

When government seeks to expand its reach, an attentive population should question whether the government has the authority to do so. Thus, the important question here becomes: What is the state authority for expanding the compulsory school age?

 “[N]o legislator should promote the expansion of state-compelled school attendance ages unless…such an expansion of compulsory school age by the state is consistent with the state’s constitution and the spirit and history of freedom of choice in his or her state.”[i]

Those advocating for lowering the compulsory school age must show that there is state authority to do so.

Compelling every 5 and 6-year-old to begin school, even if it results in what a parent considers to be harm to the child

If the state takes away the parental right to delay formal school until age 7, the state is effectively saying that every 5 and 6-year-old must be in school. They are compelling every 5 and 6-year-old to begin school, even if it results in what a parent considers to be harmful to the child.

Almost all children in Indiana begin school at age 5, and almost all of them do so in public school. The children who are not beginning school at age 5 have parents who chose not to have them begin. If the state takes away the parental right to delay school, the state is saying that it knows better than those parents do about their own 5-year-old child. 

“Just a couple of years ago, “House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis) said the issue was not a big deal due to state data showing a high rate of kindergarten attendance.”

What would cause the state, or really anyone, to suddenly say that a government bureaucracy is in the best position to decide, over the protest of parents, what is in the educational interest of an individual 5-year-old child?

One stated reason uses the existence of the My Way Pre-K program. Now that we have public school Pre-K offered through the state, the state doesn’t want parents using Pre-K and then taking time off before starting Kindergarten.

“McCormick says lowering the compulsory school age from 7 to 6 would benefit the same at-risk children the state wants to help with its limited My Way Pre-K program. ‘So those are the very kids that we’re trying to target for pre-K that we would like to see that continuation through kindergarten,’ she says.”

First, no evidence is offered to support that it is at-risk children who are not attending kindergarten at age 5. Is it better, on average, to begin formal school at an older or younger age? There are studies that support both sides of the debate, but the consensus is that there is a small benefit to entering school at an older age.

“In sum, over and above experiences at home and in child care, the age that children entered school showed some modest relation to school achievement, especially growth in achievement, with children who entered school at an older age progressing faster than children who started school at a somewhat younger age…”

Secondly, there is no evidence offered to support that starting school at age 5 will help any children, let alone at-risk children. Public-school Pre-K is offered to low-income families. The choice to delay entrance to kindergarten (called “redshirting)” for a child is overwhelmingly a choice made by affluent households, because they are the ones who can afford an extra year of childcare, or can afford to have one parent stay home from the workforce to raise children.

“Redshirting is nearly twice as prevalent in schools serving affluent student bodies as it is among those whose mean household income was close to the poverty line. This finding is not too surprising, given that the choice to redshirt may mean sending your child to preschool or daycare one additional year before kindergarten, which could be financially prohibitive among some low-income families.”

The evidence shows that lowering the compulsory school age would overwhelmingly affect affluent families, the exact opposite of those who are targeted by Indiana’s My Way Pre-K program.

Who is in the best position to determine what kind of help a 5-year-old child needs? A blanket statute that affects every 5 and 6-year-old child in the state of Indiana, without regard to individual variation and development, or the parent of that child?

 

Forcing Educational Conformity, Regardless of Outcome

Lowering the compulsory school age in Indiana is unpopular among Hoosiers. The IndyStar reports, “Lawmakers have previously sought to lower the age at which parents are required to start educating their kids, but to no avail. Now, though, those lawmakers have an important voice on their side. ‘Indiana just doesn’t like that conversation,’ said State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick. ‘But there are some legislators that do.’”

Again, if the compulsory school age is lowered, it forces an educational conformity that disregards the needs of very young children. Hoosiers have protested lowering the compulsory school age in the past. Now, we have advocates who want to force a change that is unpopular. It should give all of us pause to see anyone advocating for the trampling of dissent.

“Probably no deeper division of our people could proceed from any provocation than from finding it necessary to choose whose program public educational officials shall compel youth to unite in embracing… Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.” West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943).

Those pushing Hoosiers to lower the compulsory school age say they are doing it to “help.” I hearken back to Ronald Reagan’s old quote, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” 

It should be concerning to all Hoosiers that our Superintendent is pushing an educational agenda that Hoosiers have rejected time and again.

 

[i] Ray, Brian D. (2009). Is there any solid evidence for expanding compulsory school age? Salem, OR: National Home Education Research Institute.
IAHE Action is a 501c4 organization. Donations are not tax deductible. IAHE Action is funded by the generosity of our donors.

Lisa Yankey is a happy homeschooling mom of three, but she never expected to homeschool. Teaching runs in her blood – she is a former public school teacher, and her mother, father, and brother are all former public school teachers. During her childhood and as a teacher herself, she recognized many issues in public school. She went to law school at night in a long-term plan to help improve public schools. She used to believe that every child could receive a good and appropriate education from public school. She realized the error of this belief when she watched her own child suffering in public school. She began homeschooling shortly after her oldest child had a disastrous start to public school first grade, and she has never looked back.

Lisa serves as a member of the IAHE Action Government Affairs team. She kept her career as a part-time attorney and works for herself as a sole practitioner, with a practice area in immigration law. She is known particularly for her representation of victims of domestic abuse. She continues teaching adults as a speaker on immigration law at continuing legal education events for fellow lawyers. Lisa resides in Noblesville, Indiana (Hamilton County). with her husband, three children, two dogs, and a cat. 

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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What Do You Mean Kindergarten Isn’t Mandatory in Indiana?

Kindergarten isn’t mandatory in Indiana, but almost all children in Indiana already begin kindergarten at age 5. It is so common to start school at age 5 that most people assume that kindergarten is mandatory when a child is eligible.

Indiana educators are now pushing to lower the compulsory school age to 5. (It’s also being called “mandatory kindergarten,” but that’s a bit of a misnomer because most children who do not enter school at age 5 do not skip kindergarten; they just start kindergarten at a later age).

Currently, children in Indiana must begin school at age 7. The compulsory school age was set at age 7 for a reason, and lowering it now will not result in any educational improvement. Right now, parents can decide if their under-age-7 children are ready for school. If the compulsory school age is lowered, parents will no longer have that right.

“To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” – Mark Twain

You’ve probably heard variations of the above quote. I was reminded of it again and again during the years I was a public-school teacher. The quote refers to something that’s also called the law of the instrument. This truism states that there is a natural human tendency to be over-dependent on their narrow skill-sets and resources. In other words, if you’re used to using a particular tool, you’ll use it to solve any problem, even if another solution would be much better. That’s what happens in education time after time. 

The hammer of the public-school system is wielded as the sole tool of education.

That hammer has been in use for a hundred years, and for a while the people even largely forgot that there was any other way to become educated.

Comments and Actions Reflect a Strong Bias Against Parents and Parental Rights

Proponents of lowering the compulsory school age have a tool – the public-school system – and they view it as the only correct way to educate a child. They act shocked (“appalled”) that children are not already required to attend a brick-and-mortar school at age 5. Some of the comments made by those pushing this bill are disturbingly anti-parent.

“McCormick said the state needs to send a strong message that kids need to be in some sort of structured educational environment by the time they’re 5 years old.”

No evidence is offered for placing a child in a structured educational environment by the time they’re 5. As I will detail later, on the balance studies do not show a need for structured, formal education at age 5, and in fact there are many studies showing that structure can be harmful in early childhood development.

Exactly what do proponents of lowering the compulsory school age view as a “structured educational environment?” I doubt most home school kindergarten environments would qualify in the eyes of those who wield the hammer of the institution of public school. Many homeschooling parents make a distinction between “homeschool” and “school at home,” and intentionally avoid the latter.

Despite thousands of years of homeschool tradition, and hundreds in our nation, parents are no longer trusted with their natural ability to educate their own child – even parents of 4-to-5-year-old children. Comments from proponents of lowering the compulsory school age reveal their ignorance, dismissal, or contempt for the parent’s right and ability to educate their child.

It turns out that the evidence supports thousands of years of tradition – children who are with their parents and caregivers are better off.

“[C]ontrolled for child functioning prior to school entry, child gender, and measures of family and child care experiences through the first 4.5 years of life before we assessed the impact of entry age on child development….greater maternal sensitivity and greater child care quality predict better social and academic functioning in the early elementary school years;”

Who is in the best position to decide their child’s educational pathway? The parent.

But, against best evidence and tradition, the proponents of lowering the compulsory school age are ready to step in and force parents to put their child in school at a lower age. If your child’s educational model doesn’t fit into their view of what is correct, they’re willing to hammer your child down into place by forcing earlier compulsory schooling.

First pre-K was pushed. Proponents of lowering the compulsory school age use pre-K as an excuse to push for structured kindergarten, mandatory at age 5.

How long will it be until they are also forcing your children into whatever it is they deem a “structured environment?”

Shouldn’t we all be asking what’s really best for the child?

Are proponents of lowering the compulsory school age operating with your child’s best interest in mind, or are they pushing their own preconceived agenda? Who do you think is an in a better place to decide what a 5-year-old child is ready for – the child’s own parent, or a state law that applies universally to all children?

Is it better, on average, to begin formal school at an older or younger age? There are studies that support both sides of the debate, but the consensus is that there is a small benefit to entering school at an older age.

“In sum, over and above experiences at home and in child care, the age that children entered school showed some modest relation to school achievement, especially growth in achievement, with children who entered school at an older age progressing faster than children who started school at a somewhat younger age…”

This large, well-designed study is contrary to the agenda being pushed by proponents of lowering the compulsory school age. 

Proponents of lowering the compulsory school age should have a responsibility to properly demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between a lowered compulsory school age and long-term benefits for children into adulthood.[i]

They have not shown this evidence. So far, as stated above, the sum of the research shows the opposite: A lowered compulsory school age does not result in long-term benefits.

Why are educators so keen to force this on the people of Indiana without evidence to show that it will improve education?

The Problem is Vastly Overstated

There are parents who decide that it’s best to delay a child’s entry into public school. This happens for many reasons.

It’s wrong to automatically assume that a child who doesn’t attend public-school kindergarten when eligible will be “behind” if the child is subsequently placed into public school. There are many reasons why a concerned parent might choose alternative education, or to delay education altogether for a young child.

Some parents simply place the child in kindergarten a year later than the child is eligible. Most of those children would be placed in kindergarten, not first grade, as the idea behind delaying kindergarten was to allow a child to catch up to peers.

Some children attend private school for kindergarten. Private school tuition costs could be manageable for kindergarten, but once the price increases steeply for first grade, it becomes unaffordable for more families.

Some children are homeschooled for kindergarten.

Parents choose these options for many reasons, but part of it is in response to the changing nature of kindergarten. Parents are doing what they can do fix the problems that the education system is creating by forcing longer days and tougher curriculum on five-year-old children who are not all developmentally ready.

“It’s not just a question of when do you start kindergarten, but what do you do in those kindergarten classes? If you make kindergarten the new first grade, then parents may sensibly decide to delay entry. If kindergarten is not the new first grade, then parents may not delay children’s entries as much.”

No one knows how many parents are choosing the above options, or which options they’re choosing. Those who want to lower the compulsory school age have tossed out numbers from 118 to 7000. What is the real number? Common sense, history, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers (even lawmakers!) are surprised to hear that the compulsory school age isn’t already 5 tell us that the number of children is probably very small.

What to Do?

First, lawmakers need to understand that miracles do not accompany increased schooling.

I don’t think anyone is arguing against the fact that public schools are in decline. We’re all watching it happen.

Do we want more of a bad thing?

No, and it shows. Parents are increasingly demanding alternatives. We don’t want to use the hammer. We have better tools.

Our state has public schools to educate those children whose parents are unwilling or unable to do so. The state’s primary concern should be providing the education it is authorized to provide, and doing it well.

“Having expected miracles from increased schooling, the public has no choice but to live with the limitations of education. … [I]n seeking to free rather than imprison the child, promote growth rather than stunt it, and foster individual welfare rather than harm it, not only the quality of schools but also the quality of the society in which young people are growing up must be improved.”[ii]

Lowering the compulsory school age is a mistake. The state should focus its efforts on doing what it can to fix our public schools.

 

 

[i] Ray, Brian D. (2009). Is there any solid evidence for expanding compulsory school age? Salem, OR: National Home Education Research Institute.

[ii] https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED119389.pdf Katz, Michael S., A History of Compulsory Education Laws. Fastback Series, No. 75. Bicentennial Series. Phi Delta Kappa, Bloomington, Ind. 1976. Available at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED119389.pdf, last accessed December 10, 2017.

 

Lisa Yankey is a happy homeschooling mom of three, but she never expected to homeschool. Teaching runs in her blood – she is a former public school teacher, and her mother, father, and brother are all former public school teachers. During her childhood and as a teacher herself, she recognized many issues in public school. She went to law school at night in a long-term plan to help improve public schools. She used to believe that every child could receive a good and appropriate education from public school. She realized the error of this belief when she watched her own child suffering in public school. She began homeschooling shortly after her oldest child had a disastrous start to public school first grade, and she has never looked back.

Lisa serves as a member of the IAHE Action Government Affairs team. She kept her career as a part-time attorney and works for herself as a sole practitioner, with a practice area in immigration law. She is known particularly for her representation of victims of domestic abuse. She continues teaching adults as a speaker on immigration law at continuing legal education events for fellow lawyers. Lisa resides in Noblesville, Indiana (Hamilton County). with her husband, three children, two dogs, and a cat. 

IAHE ACTION is a 501c4 organization. Donations are not tax deductible. It is funded by our generous donors.

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.

Milton Friedman and Conservatives: Wrong on Education

The original post by Jacob G. Hornberger may be found on The Future of Freedom Foundation blog.  Republished with permission.

Once upon a time, some conservatives used to call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education. Lamentably, conservatives today celebrate when a “free-market advocate” like multimillionaire Betsy DeVos is appointed U.S. Secretary of Education, and they get terribly excited when she speaks at conservative conferences.

Meanwhile, even while conservatives continue to pronounce their allegiance to their favorite mantra — “free enterprise, private property, limited government” — they continue to embrace not only public schooling itself but also their favorite public-schooling fix-it program, school vouchers.

Over the years, conservatives have developed various labels for their voucher program: a “free-market approach to education,” “free enterprise in education,” or “school choice.” They have chosen those labels to make themselves and their supporters feel good about supporting vouchers.

But the labeling has always been false and fraudulent. Vouchers are nothing more than a socialist program, no different in principle from public schooling itself.

The term “free enterprise” means a system in which a private enterprise is free of government control or interference. That’s what distinguishes it from a socialist system, which connotes government control and interference with the enterprise.

A voucher system entails the government taxing people and then using the money to provide vouchers to people, which they can then redeem at government-approved private schools.

Does that sound like a system that is free from government control or interference? In reality, it’s no different in principle from food stamps, farm subsidies, Social Security, or any other welfare-state program. The government is using force to take money from Peter and giving it to Paul. That’s not “free enterprise.” That’s the opposite of free enterprise.

Conservatives say that their voucher system is based on “choice” because the voucher provides recipients with “choices.” But doesn’t the same principle apply to recipients of food stamps, farm subsidies, Social Security, and other socialist programs? Sure, the recipient of the loot has more choices because he has more money at his disposal. But let’s not forget that the person from whom the money was forcibly taken has been deprived of choices. After all, after a robber commits his dirty deed, he too has more choices with the money he has acquired. His victim, on the other hand, has been deprived of choices. 

In FFF’s first year of operation, 1990, I wrote an article entitled “Letting Go of Socialism,” in which I pointed out that school vouchers were just another socialist scheme, one that was intended to make public schooling work more efficiently.

Imagine my surprise to receive a critique from none other than Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who is the father of the school voucher program. Friedman leveled his critique in a speech he delivered that was entitled “Say No to Intolerance,” in which he took to task such libertarian stalwarts as Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand for adhering to principle.

Interesting enough, Friedman’s speech was recently reprinted in an issue of the Hoover Digest, a premier conservative publication. You can read it here.

Friedman’s critique of my article was nice enough. First pointing out that FFF was doing “good work and making an impact,” he addressed my criticism of vouchers:

But am I a statist, as I have been labeled by a number of libertarians, because some thirty years ago I suggested the use of educational vouchers as a way of easing the transition? Is that, and I quote Hornberger again, “simply a futile attempt to make socialism work more efficiently”? I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that you can simply say what the ideal is. This is what I mean by the utopian strand in libertarianism. You can-not simply describe the utopian solution, and leave it to somebody else how we get from here to there. That’s not only a practical problem. It’s a problem of the responsibilities that we have.

With all due respect to a Nobel Prize winner and a true gentleman, Milton Friedman was wrong on education then, and conservatives who continue to support vouchers are wrong today.

Notice something important, a point that conservatives have long forgotten: Friedman justified vouchers as a way to get rid of public schooling. For him, vouchers were a “transition” device — i.e., a way to get from here to there, with “there” being the end of public schooling.

That’s not what conservatives say today. They justify vouchers by saying that they will improve, not destroy, the public-schooling system. I can’t help but wonder what Friedman would say about that if he were still alive, given that his support of vouchers was based on the notion that it would serve as a way to get rid of public schooling. Would he still support vouchers if he knew that they would save public schooling and make it more efficient?

Why did conservatives end up rejecting Friedman’s justification? They came to the realization that some people would be less likely to support vouchers if they were told that their real purpose was to destroy public schooling. Therefore, to get more people to support vouchers, conservatives shifted Friedman’s justification to the exact opposite of what Friedman was saying. Conservatives began telling people that vouchers, by providing “competition,” would improve the public-schooling system. In fact, voucher proponents today, when pressed, will openly tell people that they are opposed to abolishing public schooling but only want to make it better by providing people with the means (vouchers) to leave the public-schooling system.

Almost 30 years after Friedman leveled his critique at me, there is not one instance of where his system of school vouchers have served as a “transition” to educational liberty. Time has confirmed the point I pointed out almost three decades ago — that school vouchers, no matter how they are labeled, are nothing more than a socialistic program designed to make socialism (i.e., public schooling) work more efficiently.

Friedman and conservatives have been proven wrong on education. There is only one solution to the educational morass in which Americans find themselves: Separate school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. Repeal all school compulsory-attendance laws and school taxes and sell off the school buildings. End all government involvement in education, including licensing of schools. Establish a total free-market educational system.

For more information on this issue, see FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families by Sheldon Richman.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.c

om and from Full Context. Send him email.

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