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October 31, 2007

HSLDA Responds to Columnist’s ‘Alarm’ Concerning Homeschooling

Recently an article appeared in the Lansing State Journal in which columnist John Schneider criticizes homeschooling. Attorney Chris Klicka responded as follows:

Dear Mr. Schneider,

Your article “Lack of oversight for home-schooled alarms educator” indicated that because homeschooling is not supervised by government bureaucrats, homeschooled children are not being well educated. The statement from public school teacher Nancy Head that “nobody ever checks up on these kids” makes it appear that homeschool parents need to be held accountable to the state.

However, this is not what evidence has shown. A national study performed by Dr. Brian Ray, “Is Government Regulation Necessary for High Achievement?” compared and contrasted the performance of homeschooled children throughout the country according to the amount of government regulations. The study shows that the academic performance of homeschooled children in states such as New York, with much regulation, is the same as homeschooled children in states like Missouri, which have little regulation. In other words, more government rules and accountability does not make better students.

There is nothing “broke” with the academic performance of Michigan homeschoolers, and there is, therefore, no need to fix it. National studies have shown that Michigan homeschool students, on the average, score above average on standardized achievement tests. The bottom line is that homeschooling works. [To view a summary of national homeschool achievement click here.]

Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court has recognized that the average parent acts in the best interest of their children. After working for the Home School Legal Defense Association for 23 years, I have found that homeschool parents want their children to not only succeed academically, but in every way. Michigan’s compulsory attendance statute regarding homeschooling both protects the fundamental rights of parents to direct the education of their children as guaranteed through the Fourteenth Amendment, and also upholds the understanding that we need to trust parents more than the government oversight.

Homeschooling has not always been free in Michigan. Thousands of families in the 1980’s and 1990’s felt the oppression from the state when they were hounded as criminals by local school districts and the State Department of Education simply because they chose to homeschool. Many families were taken to court. During those years, HSLDA represented thousands of homeschool families, whose right to home school was being challenged by the state. Fortunately for the innocent homeschool families in Michigan, the state supreme court, in our case People v. DeJonge, 501 N.W.2d 127, (Mich. 1993), ruled in favor of the homeschool families and found the teacher certification requirement an unconstitutional violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

A few years later, the legislature saw the importance of protecting parents’ rights in the area of education and enacted MCLA 380.01. “It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children.” This reaffirmed the basic fundamental right of all parents, including homeschool parents, to have the right to choose the form of education that they deem best for their children.

There is no need to question the need for accountability for homeschool parents to state bureaucracy. Homeschooling has a proven track record of working best when it is left alone by the government.


Christopher J. Klicka, Esq.
HSLDA Senior Counsel