December 18, 2023

Homeschooling Laws Do Not Need to Be Regulated More

By: Frances Floresca

Certain individuals have called for a crackdown on homeschooling, including comedian John Oliver from The Last Week Tonight Show and Harvard Law professor, Elizabeth Bartholet.

The Last Week Tonight Show host expressed in October that with homeschool “the rules and oversight can be so lax, parents ultimately don’t have to teach their kids anything at all,” However, there is nothing  funny about wanting more homeschool regulations.

Bartholet also wants parents to “demonstrate that they have a legitimate reason to homeschool,” including if their child is a “superstar athlete” or the “schools in their area are terrible.” She also wants parents to demonstrate they are capable of providing an education “comparable to public schools.” 

Homeschooling laws do not need to be comparable to public schools or regulated more. The less burdensome the laws, the more control parents and educators have over what their children learn. 

More regulations would give more power to the government to decide how parents educate and raise their children. In the first place, parents choose to pull their kids from traditional public schools to get away from government red tape, such as testing and subject requirements, as well as curriculum that may not match their values. 

New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have the most stringent homeschooling laws in the entire country with requirements for minimum hours of instruction, to tell school districts about the intent to homeschool, education plans, and progress reports. In Pennsylvania, there are immunization requirements

“Lax” homeschooling laws have also led to more innovative education, enabling a student-centered environment and many times, letting the students direct how they learn. It has even reportedly led to higher academic achievement and outcomes. 

Even Oliver argued the “lax” homeschooling laws could “safeguard against those who use personal liberty as an excuse to neglect or harm.” Bartholet also has called for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling and even said removing regulations has led to more child abuse. 

Studies have shown there are no correlations “between more stringent state homeschooling regulations and rates of abuse or neglect by the caregivers of homeschooled children,” according to Dr. Brian Ray of National Home Education Research Institute. 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education also discovered that while fatality rates among homeschooled children are larger than population rates, they also are not statistically “significantly different from population rates.”

Unfortunately, abuse can happen anywhere, no matter how good or bad a system is. Teachers and parents who abuse their children or students should not be let off the hook. Gratefully, there are already laws against child abuse, and individuals who are suspected perpetrators should be punished and prosecuted. 

Also, let us not forget the most regulated education system: traditional public schools. 

They do not necessarily produce better academic results compared to homeschool students or private school students.

In addition to academic results, child abuse in traditional public school settings has also skyrocketed over the years, and school employees also have failed to report “large fractions of suspected abuse.” 

The Defense of Freedom Institute found that “between 2010 and 2019, the number of complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging sexual violence against K–12 schools more than tripled.”

Just because something is unregulated or less regulated, does not mean it is unsafe nor does it mean it is better. If there are more regulations on homeschooling, it can lead to less innovation in education and trap more children in failing government schools. It reminds us that parents, the community, and educators should be in charge of the upbringing of children, not the government.