It’s National School Choice Week, and while magnet and charter schools and vouchers get a lot of attention from proponents of expanded educational opportunities, another popular option gets fewer headlines: home schooling. The ability to remove a child from public schooling altogether is the ultimate choice for parents — and it’s under attack, despite its strong record of success.
Last month, Democratic state Sen. Capri Cafaro of Ohio introduced a bill that would require all parents to undergo a background check and social services investigation, including separate interviews of children, before being allowed to home-school their kids. The bill, a response to the death of a home-school student, was touted as an abuse-prevention measure. In fact, this overreach and other such bills are rooted in teachers unions’ desire to keep more children in public schools, thereby creating a need for more dues-paying teacher positions and more tax money for schools.
The Home School Legal Defense Association termed the intrusive bill, which gave the state full control over a family decision, the worst home-school law ever proposed. Under immense criticism, Sen. Cafaro withdrew the misguided bill.
The HSLDA (hslda.org) is also working with Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, who moved to the United States from Germany in 2008 to avoid prosecution for home schooling their children. According to the HSLDA, the Romeike family was granted asylum in 2010, but the Obama administration revoked that asylum in 2012. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the administration’s position, ruling that Germany was merely enforcing truancy law. In October, the HSLDA appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to respond in writing to the association’s petition on behalf of the Romeikes.
The importance of that pending response is underscored by another case in Germany involving the HSLDA. Twenty armed police officers raided the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich on Aug. 20, and their four children were taken away because they were home-schooled. A German judge then rescinded the Wunderlichs’ custody when they indicated they wanted to move to France, where home schooling is permitted. The judge deemed home schooling a “concrete endangerment” to the children, even though the judge agreed the children were academically proficient and well-adjusted socially.
Such proficiency and social adjustment are the rule, rather than the exception, for the more than 2 million home-school students in the United States, including about 4,000 in Southern Nevada, according to Elissa Wahl, co-founder of the Nevada Homeschool Network. The HSLDA reports the average student is engaged in 5.2 activities or community events outside the home, and that 98 percent of home-school students are involved in two or more activities. Home-school students have higher ACT composite scores, graduate from college at a higher rate (66.7 percent to 57.5 percent) and earn higher grade-point averages than their peers, according to an extensive 2009 study by St. Thomas University’s Michael Cogan.
It’s been proved time and again that one-size-fits-all doesn’t really fit for K-12 education, here in Clark County and around the country. The more choice, the better — including home schooling.