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June 27, 2012

School District’s Outreach to Homeschoolers—A Trojan Horse

Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Georgia. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

On June 6, 2012, The Cairo Messenger, a newspaper published in Cairo, Georgia, reported on a meeting of the Grady County Board of Education on May 31, during which the future of homeschooling was discussed. According to the article, the board intends to “reach out” to children being homeschooled in an effort to persuade their parents to stop homeschooling and enroll them in a virtual public school program. What is clear from the article is that the board of education’s main purpose is to reach out for more state funds provided by Georgia’s taxpaying citizens, not to better serve the homeschooling community.

According to the school superintendent, the private company that would provide all of the teachers, textbooks, and instruction would receive only 25 to 30 percent of the money from the state, while the board of education would get the remaining 70 to 75 percent. With per pupil state funding currently at around $5,000 for Grady County, that would amount to a windfall to the public schools of about $3,750 for each of the 128 homeschooled children recruited into the virtual program, potentially $480,000 of taxpayers’ money. The assistant superintendent told the board that, “No one in the system will have to do anything.” What a revealing admission—$3,750 per pupil for doing nothing!

Part of the assistant superintendent’s presentation was a denigrating assessment of the academic performance of homeschooled children, albeit without any statistical data to support her remarks. According to the results of a study conducted for the 2007–08 school year by the National Home Education Research Institute in which homeschooled students from all 50 states were administered standardized achievement tests, homeschooled students scored on average 37 percentile points higher than their public school counterparts. The findings of this study were consistent with every other study conducted on homeschooling since its reemergence as an educational option in the 1980s. Even more relevant to the issue at hand, the national publication Education Week in an article published on October 5, 2011, noted that students attending Colorado’s full-time online education programs actually perform worse than public school students. There is no academic incentive for homeschooling parents to place their children in a program that is inferior to the public schools.

The virtual public school program proposed by the Grady County Board of Education is not intended to help homeschooling. It is intended to destroy it.