Remember this – the state may not be able to teach every child to
read, but they can force every graduate to have a diploma from a
school “approved” by them to be able to work in any occupation that
Tennessee homeschoolers have been embroiled with their state government for quite some time now, and it appears that things are finally coming to a legislative head. First, a little background: Last week Rob Shearer wrote in his blog Contending with the Culture, in a post titled Tennessee’s Jihad Against Homeschoolers:
It began in late 2007 and continued into 2008. An employee of the Department of Education, nominally in charge of the office of non-public schooling was criss-crossing the state making a presentation in which she declared that the diplomas issued by Tennessee’s church-related, category IV schools “were not worth the paper they were printed on.”
As a result of her presentations, other agencies and departments of the state began to reject diplomas issued to homeschoolers when a high school diploma was required by law for certain regulated categories of employment.
Because this is a situation which will undoubtedly face homeschooling families in other states, I want to share a little more from Rob’s blog:
Once again, it bears repeating: The State of Tennessee recognizes these diplomas for the awarding of HOPE lottery scholarships. The University of Tennessee and all of its campuses recognize these diplomas for purposes of admission to college. The state community college system recognizes these diplomas for the purpose of admission to a community college. Vanderbilt, Sewanee, Rhodes, King, Belmont, David Lipscomb, & Lee University all recognize these diplomas for admission to their college degree programs.
It is only the few state boards where the Department of Education has some influence that have rejected them. Homeschooled kids are smart enough to enlist in any branch of the armed services, attend any public or private university – but according to the state of Tennessee they are not qualified to work in a daycare, serve as a police officer, or dye someone’s hair.
Folks, this is outrageous. This is the petty tyranny of a unionized bureaucracy. The educrats cannot stand the fact that a few courageous families have said “no thank you” to the government-monopoly factory-model one-size-fits-all public school system.
This situation is indeed outrageous, but there’s a bright light at the end of this tunnel, brought to you by the Tennessee homeschooling community. Having already passed the House, on Monday, May 4th the Tennessee State Senate also passed SB0433, which, summarized, states:
“Schools, Home – As introduced, requires that diplomas issued by home schools be recognized by all state and local governmental entities as having the same rights and privileges of diplomas issued by public school systems. – Amends TCA Title 1, Chapter 3.”
For an abundant selection of relevant information on this bill, visit Tennessee Home Ed 2009 Legislation, presented by the venerable TnHomeEd site.
Not everyone is happy about this development of course…
Democrats pointed out that, under the law allowing home schooling, parents aren’t required to disclose exactly what they’re teaching their kids. Basically, your mom could read you a few bible stories and then write up your diploma with a crayon on a napkin.
Rep. John Litz, D-Morristown, said recognizing these diplomas is like giving people driver’s licenses without making them take a driving test.
“They want hands-off government,” Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, said. “Now they’re saying, ‘We want you to recognize this, but we still don’t want to tell you what we’re doing.'”
The homeschoolers of Tennessee responded to the article above with many excellent posts, including this gem:
Interesting, to me, is the fact that a homeschooler can graduate from high school (at home) attend college, Medical school, become a brain surgeon, and not be allowed to legally dye hair on that same head. This is a matter of: State said homeschooling is a legal option, equal to government education so long as X, Y, and Z are done. Now State wants to come back and say, “Well….it depends on what the definition of “is” is.”
The bill now goes to the Governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, for his consideration.
Bill orders equality for home-school diplomas
By Juanita Cousins • ASSOCIATED PRESS • May 8, 2009
The proposal sponsored by Rep. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, would require that all state and local governmental entities recognize diplomas issued by home schools and church-related schools as having the same rights and privileges of diplomas issued by public school systems.