For Immediate Release: Requiring parents to provide notice that they are homeschooling is reasonable and beneficial
Canton, Ma., 03/04/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging lawmakers to support homeschooling provisions included in Connecticut Senate Bill 874. These provisions, included in an omnibus education bill, would require parents of homeschooled students to sign an annual registration form indicating that the student will be receiving home instruction.
“Requiring parents to notify local education officials that they are homeschooling is simple common sense,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “On the most basic level, it means that school districts have a list of which students are being homeschooled, ensuring that homeschooling families will not be unnecessarily investigated for truancy.”
Last week, some Connecticut homeschooling parents attended a hearing for SB 874 to oppose the bill’s homeschool notice provision. “This opposition is based on fear mongering rather than reality,” said Coleman. Coleman acknowledges that the homeschool notice provision in SB 874 may be related to a report last year from the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate that found that 36% of students removed from school to be homeschooled had past child abuse or neglect reports. However, she points out that the language in SB 874 would not subject homeschooling parents to any additional scrutiny.
“Some homeschooling parents have claimed that registration lists would be turned over to the Department of Children and Families,” said Coleman. “But even if the Office of the Child Advocate used these lists to improve their research, that would not involve any investigation or additional scrutiny of these families. Homeschooling parents should be in favor of good, accurate research, especially in an area that brings out as many emotions as child abuse.”
The Office of the Child Advocate’s 2018 report on the percentage of homeschooling families subject to prior child abuse and neglect reports cross-referenced school districts’ records of students withdrawn from school to be homeschooled with DCF records, and did not include any contact with these families. The OCA’s data included only homeschooled students who were previously enrolled in public school, and not those who were always homeschooled.
“Many homeschooling parents were upset with the OCA’s report and dismissive of its validity,” said Coleman. “But if they want to ensure that the OCA has accurate data, they have to drop their opposition to the most basic data collection. This is not about investigating homeschooling families,” added Coleman. “It is about ensuring that school districts have a list of students being homeschooled within their boundaries.”
“Families benefit when school districts have an accurate accounting of homeschooled students,” said Coleman. “This record keeping helps ensure that homeschooling families are not needlessly investigated for truancy, and it may encourage school districts to make individual classes or extracurriculars available to homeschooled students.”
The OCA report is not alone in raising concern about negligent parents using homeschooling to isolate children and hide child abuse. In 2014, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin found that 47% of the school-age child torture victims she studied were removed from school to be homeschooled. “We recommend creating a screening system for new homeschooling parents that flags cases where there are signs for concern,” said Coleman. “Such a process may be introduced in the future, but is not currently included in any Connecticut legislation.”
“Homeschooling parents have nothing to fear from a notice requirement, and a lot to gain,” said Coleman. “We urge Connecticut lawmakers to support the homeschool notice provisions included in SB 874.”
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.