For Immediate Release: Removing the state’s homeschool requirements would legalize educational neglect
Canton, Ma., 02/19/19—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Montana State House Education Committee Members to oppose House Bill 303, which would remove the state’s homeschool requirements and eliminate districts’ ability to enforce the state’s compulsory attendance statute for all students.
“We’ve seen this kind of language introduced to legislative bodies before,” said Eve Ettinger, policy analyst and board member with CRHE. “It’s a carte blanche for parents to remove their children from school and then fail to educate them.” While many parents who homeschool do provide their children with an excellent education, this is not always the case. CRHE is aware of numerous cases in Montana and elsewhere where children were homeschooled but not educated; there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that children who are homeschooled are less likely to obtain higher education.
Currently, parents who homeschool in Montana are required to notify the school district each year and to provide a set number of hours of instruction in the same range of academic subjects covered in public schools. HB 303 would remove these requirements, legalizing educational neglect and leaving Montana’s homeschooled children without any right to even the most basic education.
HB 303 wouldn’t just legalize educational neglect. By removing the current requirement that homeschooling parents notify their school district each year, HB 303 would also make it easier for abusive parents to use homeschooling to hide maltreatment.
“When even the most minimal requirements are stripped away, homeschool statutes become especially open to abuse,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. 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; in 2018, a state official in Connecticut found that 36% of children removed from school to be homeschooled lived in families that were subject to at least one prior child abuse or neglect report. “Parents fleeing suspicions of child abuse or neglect already use Montana’s comparatively lax homeschool laws to hide from accountability,” said Ettinger. “Decreasing accountability for Montana’s homeschooling parents would only exacerbate this situation.”
“Eliminating compulsory attendance and providing tax incentives for parents who do not enroll their children in public school–which Rep. DeVries is promoting in a parallel bill–is a massive mistake,” says Ettinger. “Homeschooled children deserve safeguards that ensure that they are receiving academic resources and an education without parents neglecting their health or academic growth.”
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.