For Immediate Release: Homeschooling parents should be required to provide their children with instruction in the same basic subjects other students study
02/19/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, supports a measure that would require all children in Mississippi, including homeschooled children, to study Mississippi state history and United States government at some point during grades 9-12. “Homeschooled children should have instruction in the same basic subject areas as other children,” says Dr. Rachel Coleman, CRHE’s executive director. “House Bill 188 does not require homeschooling parents to use state textbooks; it simply makes it mandatory for parents to provide instruction in subjects colleges already expect to see on students’ transcripts.”
Mississippi House Bill 188 would require public schools, as well as private, parochial, and home-based school programs, to provide instruction in “the history of the State of Mississippi from the age of discovery and colonization to the present, with particular emphasis on the significant political, social, economic and cultural issues of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which have impacted the diverse ethnic and racial populations of the state.” The bill explicitly does not require students to take any test to pass this requirement, and does not require homeschooling parents to use state-approved textbooks for these subject areas.
Subject requirements for children who are homeschooled vary by state. “Currently, Mississippi has no subject requirements for homeschooled children,” says Coleman. “In Mississippi, homeschooling parents are not legally mandated to teach their children any specific subjects; parents could simply choose not to teach a child math, or reading. Mississippi law does nothing to protect homeschooled children’s right to receive an education.”
Coleman says her organization recommends states create clear requirements regarding what instruction homeschooling parents should provide to students, particularly during the high school years. Some states already have such requirements. Pennsylvania requires homeschooled students to complete three years of social studies, in addition to their other requirements for English, mathematics, science, and arts and humanities. New York state requires homeschooled students to complete four units of social studies, including one unit of American history; one-half unit of government; and one-half unit of economics.
“We oppose requiring homeschooling parents to use state approved textbooks,” says Coleman. “But we support provisions requiring homeschooling parents to provide instruction in the same basic subjects our society has determined all students should study, including math, English, and social studies.” According to Coleman, data from Kentucky and Virginia suggests homeschool graduates may be only half as likely as other graduates to attend college. “Requiring parents to provide instruction in the subject areas colleges expect to see on students’ transcripts will give students more options after graduation,” says Coleman.
While HB 188 only mandates children study Mississippi history and U.S. government, Coleman says she hopes to see more robust requirements in the future. “We would like to see the Mississippi legislature require homeschooling parents to provide instruction in the same basic subjects every other student studies in school,” says Coleman. “We believe parents should be able to choose how to educate their children, but not whether to educate their children. Every state should affirm children’s right to an education.”
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.