For Immediate Release: Everyone benefits when public schools are funded to provide services to homeschooled students
Canton, Ma., 03/04/2019—Last week, the Arkansas House passed House Bill 1419, which would expand homeschooled students’ access to individual public school classes. The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging state senators to support the bill, which has now moved to the Senate Education Committee.
“Access to curricular programs allows homeschooled students to enroll in individual public school classes in areas parents don’t feel comfortable teaching,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Not all homeschooling parents have the resources needed to hire private tutors for difficult subjects, making bills like HB 1419 important.”
In 2017, Arkansas lawmakers passed a statute that was intended to open curricular classes to homeschooled students, but a report from the University of Arkansas’ Office of Education Policy found that this policy was not being effectively implemented. SB 1419 would amend the language of the statute from “may” to “shall,” preventing school districts from choosing not to enroll homeschooled students. School districts would be still permitted to limit enrollment if such enrollment created a financial loss for the school district.
Coleman points to the existence of a “homeschool math gap. “There is a large body of research that suggests homeschooled students underperform in math,” said Coleman. “Allowing homeschooling parents to enroll their children in individual math classes could help close that gap for individual students.” Coleman also points to the benefits of allowing homeschooled students to enroll in art classes, or in extracurriculars such as band.
“Homeschooling often includes a significant financial outlay in terms of curriculum, classes, and the sacrifice of one parent’s income,” said Coleman. “Not all homeschooling parents have the means to pay for tutors or other enrichments.” Data from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests that homeschooled students are no less likely to be low income than other students. In fact, the most recent numbers suggest that homeschooled students may actually be more likely to be below the poverty level than their peers, with over 20% of homeschooled students living below the poverty level.
“The interests of school districts and homeschooled students need not run counter to each other,” adds Coleman. “Some states have created innovative programs that encourage school districts and homeschoolers to work together. Alaska’s district-run homeschool programs and Iowa’s Home School Assistance Programs are excellent examples.” CRHE recommends providing school districts with partial funding allotments for homeschooled students they enroll. “Providing school districts with funding for the services they offer homeschoolers gives districts an incentive to publicize these programs while bringing resources to school districts.”
“Homeschooled students and families benefit from positive relationships between homeschool communities and local public schools,” said Coleman. “We applaud the Arkansas House for passing HB 1419 and urge the Arkansas Senate to do the same.”
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.