In a Michigan Live online news story noting the drop in public school enrollment by over 50,000 students this year, State Superintendent Michael Rice stated his intention to change Michigan’s education laws in order to “distinguish between children who are being homeschooled at the present time and children who aren’t being educated at all.”
He added: “This gap needs to be addressed with a change in state law to help us identify and serve children who aren’t in public, private, parochial, or homeschool environments at the present time.”
The report questioned how many of these students would return to school when things resume a pre-COVID routine.
The superintendent doubled down on his statement by issuing a letter available on the Michigan Department of Education website entitled “Counting Children in the Pandemic,” stating that “state law needs to require a count of homeschool children.”
Former State Representative and Current State School Board Member Tom McMillin strongly objected to the idea, stating, “They better not start knocking on doors. That’s none of the state’s business. It’s the parents’ job [to homeschool their children].”
Home School Legal Defense Association and our state partner MiCHN have sent letters to the state superintendent and chairs of the legislature’s education committees, encouraging them to focus their attention on public school issues, rather than trying to devise ways to interfere with families who have chosen to homeschool.
In a letter to State Superintendent Rice, MiCHN President Mike Winter stated: “Parents who have chosen other educational options including homeschooling are free to do so and must be assumed to be using those means to educate their children. Rare is the parent who does not want his child properly educated, and parents are best suited to decide what is in the best educational interest of their particular child. Those who leave the public school must be assumed to be making the best decision for their child.”
What the Law Says
Michigan laws presume that parents have the “natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children.”
Furthermore, Section 3 of the Michigan Constitution states that “[l]eadership and general supervision over all public education … is vested in a state board of education … [who shall] appoint a superintendent of public instruction…” (emphasis added).
I sent a letter to the superintendent as well, noting that “for nearly 30 years, these laws have met the needs of families and satisfied any legitimate state interest. HSLDA and our friends at the Michigan Christian Homeschool Network, along with other freedom-loving organizations and citizens, would strongly resist any attempts to change state laws regarding homeschooling.”
HSLDA has created a campaign to enable homeschoolers to share—politely and persuasively—their experiences with the superintendent and to request that he focus his attention on the schools he is responsible for, not private schools or homeschooling families. We encourage you to participate in this stand for educational freedom.