Three (Smart?) Rules for Home School Regulation

Jay Matthews of the Washington Post passes on a message from the book Write These Laws On Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling by Robert Kunzman.

Some public school educators I know are uneasy about this. They don’t know home-schooling families well. They worry those kids are being ill-served by well-meaning but inexperienced parents.

… In the last several years, due to the efforts of groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va., home-schooling parents’ rights to teach their children as they see fit have expanded. Regulation has been reduced. But the political winds could blow the other way. What should we do about that?

…Kunzman admits, however, that political and education leaders in the future may not be so tolerant of what they might see as homeschooling excesses. Anticipating future clashes, he comes up with three rules for regulating homeschooling that he thinks all sides could accept as a way to protect both the families’ freedoms and their children’s futures.

Home-schooling regulations are only justified, Kunzman says, when (1) vital interests of children or society are at stake, (2) there is a general consensus on standards for meeting those interests, and (3) there is an effective way to measure whether those standards are met.
Kunzman offers only one possible regulation that meets all three criteria: he thinks home-schoolers, like regular school children, should be tested for basic skills in reading, writing and math. Read more…

I haven’t read the book. But seeing these three rules don’t impress me as good in any way. What or who defines these vital interests of children or society? Is general consensus really just majority opinion? And although measuring or comparing outcomes could be a welcome way to show homeschooling is as good as or better than institutional school, talk of “measuring whether those standards are met” sounds like merely enforcement of these regulations.

As one of the comments after the story said, “That’s not even getting into how a book that focuses on religious extremists can be used to judge the general population, let along make recommendations for such a diverse group.” What ever happened to individual freedom and the rights of the family?

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