May 5, 2004

Regulation of Homeschooling Recommended by Guest Column in the Wisconsin State Journal

Recently, homeschoolers were targeted in the Wisconsin State Journal. This influential paper approved a column which argued for the significant regulation of homeschoolers. We believe that these types of articles are dangerous to the freedoms of homeschoolers in Wisconsin since they may encourage legislators to pursue homeschool regulations. We will therefore continue to closely monitor the Wisconsin legislature. If harmful legislation is introduced we can act to defeat it quickly.

Dave Searles wrote a scathing opinion article in the Wisconsin State Journal recommending that homeschoolers should be heavily regulated. "Home schooling in Wisconsin is a pathetic national joke," he stated.

Searles demanded that that home teachers be certified, mandatory courses be offered, mid-semester and end of semester exams be required, and a prohibition on any religion or religious curriculum.

Searles reasoned that no person is qualified to teach a child all of his courses. Therefore, homeschoolers should be certified, or should draw from a pool of certified teachers. Searles failed to mention any reason why homeschoolers should be certified. To the contrary, national studies show that children of homeschool parents with just a high school diploma score, on the average, 19-35 percentile points higher than the average public school student. Teacher certification is not required because homeschooling works!

According to Searles, all courses should include a balanced education and meet the approval of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, including textbooks. What he may fail to realize is that homeschoolers have a wealth of curricula and textbook choices available to them. The strength of homeschooling is that it allows the parent to individualize the education according to the needs of each child, and not to merely teach a pre-approved course.

Searles demanded that mid-semester and end of the semester exams be administered to homeschool students. Many homeschool parents voluntarily test their own children, but studies have shown that homeschoolers consistently perform above average on standardized tests. In fact, many states have abandoned testing requirements for homeschoolers because it is a waste of the state's time and money.

"Any religion or religious activities and curriculum must not be included in the home schooling program," wrote Searles. "If compliance is not abided by then the student or students will be found truant." This viewpoint directly contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court and the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, recognized the right of parents to direct the religious upbringing of their children and to control the process of their education.

HSLDA Director of Media Realtions, Ian Slatter wrote a response to Dave Searles' article (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). Additionally, many homeschoolers responded to the Wisconsin State Journal and had their letters published.

 Other Resources

Dave Searles Column