For Immediate Release: Group run by homeschool alumni identifies vision for empowered and responsible homeschooling
04/29/2021— The Coalition for Responsible Children (CRHE) has released a Bill of Rights for Homeschooled Children. “As an organization founded and run by homeschool alumni since 2013, CRHE understands homeschooling’s holistic impact on a child’s life,” says Dr. Rachel Coleman, CRHE’s co-founder and past executive director, who spearheaded the Bill of Rights project. “Homeschooling has the potential to provide children with either an empowering, fulfilling experience or an abusive, deprived one,” Coleman adds. “At CRHE, we advocate for homeschooled children’s right to a quality education in a loving, safe, and supportive home; in our Bill of Rights, we’ve outlined what that looks like.” The group’s statement details how homeschooled children’s academic, physical, mental, and social wellbeing can best be supported by their parents and communities. “We want to inspire both parents and policymakers to center homeschooled children’s rights and focus on their needs,” says Coleman.
Millions of homeschooled children lack guaranteed access to programs intended to promote child welfare, including food and nutrition programs, age-appropriate sex education, monitoring for child abuse and neglect, and professional college and career counseling. Additionally, current homeschooling laws have few measures in place to ensure that homeschooled children receive the care and education they deserve. The lack of oversight of homeschooling families enables sustained and unchecked campaigns of abuse against homeschooled children, such as the tragedies experienced by the six Hart children, starved and eventually killed by their adoptive parents, and the thirteen Turpin children, whose parents were charged with torture and child endangerment. Other types of abuse and educational neglect, also unique to homeschooling, are less extreme but still traumatic: withholding identity documents from children, as Alecia Faith Pennington experienced, or depriving them of basic writing and math skills, as in Josh Powell’s case.
The Bill of Rights includes articles on care and safety, education and future, friendships and community, physical and mental healthcare, disability, adoption, expression and belief, and autonomy and independence. It was written collaboratively by the nonprofit’s staff members, board members, and volunteers, most of whom are homeschool alumni. It features contributions from those who have personal experience with violations of the rights in question, such as survivors of child abuse and educational neglect, transracial adoptees, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. CRHE’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the document, whose release coincides with National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
The idea for the Bill of Rights emerged from CRHE’s current statement of vision, written in 2019: “Homeschooled children’s right to a comprehensive and empowering education and a safe and supportive home environment is affirmed and protected by laws, stakeholders, and society as a whole.” After drafting the statement, several staff and board members wanted to articulate a detailed description of how this vision could be realized. “CRHE’s policy recommendations,” Coleman notes, “lay out the basic legal requirements to protect homeschooled children from severe abuse and educational neglect. But the Bill of Rights goes further: it imagines what homeschooling would look like in an ideal world.”
The Bill of Rights is inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been signed by every country in the world except for the United States — in part because of the opposition of prominent homeschooling leaders. “The Convention’s structure, organization, and focus on universal human rights inform every part of the Bill of Rights for Homeschooled Children,” Coleman explains. “Each individual right described in the Bill of Rights has been formulated in response to one or more documented cases of human rights abuses toward homeschooled children.”
“I commend Dr. Rachel Coleman and the entire CRHE staff and board for developing this outstanding document,” says Jeremy C. Young, interim executive director of CRHE. “The Bill of Rights for Homeschooled Children stands as a profound vision of what homeschooling can be and should be: empowering children to lead fulfilling lives, free from child abuse and educational neglect.”
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.