Three Smart Rules for Home School Regulation, by Jay Mathews, an education columnist for The Washington Post, is an article homeschool advocates should read, as it presages an attitude which we’ll likely be seeing more of in the coming weeks and months:
Homeschooling is the sleeping giant of the American education system. There are at least 1.7 million children being taught at home, a rough estimate because good data is hard to find and the number has been growing about 9 percent a year for the last decade.
Home-schooling parents and their concerns don’t show up often in our debates over public schooling. They are too busy getting through the day, both making a living and teaching their children. We will likely hear more from them as they serve a larger and larger portion of the nation’s schoolchildren.
Some public school educators I know are uneasy about this. They don’t know home-schooling families well. They worry those kids are being ill-served by well-meaning but inexperienced parents. There is potential for more battles over regulating home-schooling.
Referring to Robert Kunzman’s new book, “Write These Laws on Your Children,” Mathews writes:
Kunzman admits, however, that political and education leaders in the future may not be so tolerant of what they might see as homeschooling excesses. Anticipating future clashes, he comes up with three rules for regulating homeschooling that he thinks all sides could accept as a way to protect both the families’ freedoms and their children’s futures.
Home-schooling regulations are only justified, Kunzman says, when (1) vital interests of children or society are at stake, (2) there is a general consensus on standards for meeting those interests, and (3) there is an effective way to measure whether those standards are met.
Kunzman offers only one possible regulation that meets all three criteria: he thinks home-schoolers, like regular school children, should be tested for basic skills in reading, writing and math.
Homeschool advocates might want to start sharpening their pencils for what could be increasing attempts to use Kunzman’s book as the catalyst to further increase regulation of homeschooling. For further discussion and commentary you might check out the HEM Networking group or your state or local homeschool support group’s communication network.