For Immediate Release: Alumni group warns that homeschooling was not designed as a means for avoiding state immunization requirements
02/27/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Connecticut lawmakers to consider the effect changes to the state’s immunization laws may have on homeschooling. Connecticut House Bill 5044 would require children who attend school, but not homeschooled children, to be vaccinated. “Homeschooling is an educational choice and was never intended to serve as a means for avoiding school health requirements,” says Dr. Rachel Coleman, CRHE’s executive director. “When children are homeschooled only to avoid vaccine requirements, and not because parents and children want to homeschool, everyone suffers.”
After lawmakers in New York passed a 2019 bill requiring all children who attend school to be vaccinated unless they have a valid medical exemption, CRHE saw a steep uptick in queries about homeschooling. “Some parents said they did not want to homeschool, but felt it was their only option,” said Coleman. “In some cases parents who contacted us appeared to lack the educational background or resources needed to homeschool effectively.” Coleman says parents should homeschool only if they have a genuine interest in providing their children with an education at home. “Parents who are only homeschooling their children in order to avoid school health requirements may not be best suited to homeschool,” she says. “Everyone loses.”
Coleman points to a specific case in New York state to illustrate her concerns. In that case, a reporter spoke with a woman who withdrew her three children from school to homeschool them in order to avoid the state’s vaccine requirements, even though both she and her husband worked full time. The couple’s 13-year-old daughter was providing childcare for her 10-year-old brother and 5-year-old sister and supervising their schoolwork while their parents worked. “We do not recommend homeschooling unless parents can arrange for full-time supervision and guidance of their children’s education,” said Coleman. “Children deserve to have their education prioritized.”
CRHE does not take a position on specific medical requirements. Instead, the organization recommends applying school health requirements mandated by the state to all children of school age, rather than only those who attend school. “Our goal is to ensure that families who homeschool do so because they have a genuine interest in educating their children at home,” says Coleman. “Our priority is to support children and families.”
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.