In response to a recent Detroit Free Press article calling for more regulation of homeschooling, the state Senate’s Education Committee chair, Lana Theis, told HSLDA she sees no need for changing Michigan’s homeschool laws.

In reference to parents, she told me “homeschooled children have someone who cares deeply about them and who wants to give them a good education. We need to not only preserve options for parents, but give them even more choices. I see no need to create hurdles within our homeschool law that has served thousands of Michigan families who have demonstrated excellence over decades.”

Media Reports

The Detroit Free Press story was a follow-up by reporter Lily Altaveena to a previous article she had written, “Jo can’t read,” about three homeschooled siblings whose parents were being investigated by Child Protective Services for alleged educational neglect. In her follow-up article,  “Michigan students facing educational neglect is a ‘hidden problem,’” Altaveena quoted Michigan officials and other individuals calling for oversight of homeschoolers to prevent educational neglect.

According to the article, a state senator is considering introducing a bill to impose additional regulations on the homeschooling community. The Free Press reported, “After hearing Jo's story, Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said he’s exploring what legislative reform might look like. ‘I know that certainly Michigan could strengthen its laws around educational neglect,’ Irwin said.”

The Free Press also reported that the state attorney general wanted to see more regulations.

“In a statement to the Free Press, Attorney General Dana Nessel wrote that adding more oversight over homeschool education would be up to state lawmakers,” the newspaper reported. “ ‘A lack of oversight can result in an inadequate education that does not prepare kids for personal success in life. Michigan children deserve better,’ she wrote.”

Support for Freedom in Education

Senator Theis told HSLDA that “many parents in Michigan are fed up with the state of public education. It’s no wonder that tens of thousands of families have chosen private or home education. Parents are the ones who have the right to make that decision and I will never support any changes to our laws that undermine that right. The homeschooling community in Michigan is strong. What we need is more oversight and accountability for our public education elites that are indoctrinating children and ignoring parents demands for transparency and involvement.”

Mike Winter, president of the statewide MiCHN organization that advocates for homeschooling in Michigan, said that the comments by the legislators were instructive.

“I think people really need to pay attention to what legislators . . . are saying and to vote accordingly,” Winter added. “As homeschoolers we really need to be engaged in the civic process. The party primaries are a great place to ask candidates questions about homeschooling. We have so many new homeschoolers who may not realize that there are real differences. . . . I can tell you that Senator Theis and her predecessor Senator Pavlov were ardent supporters of homeschooling and parental choice in education. And so is Representative [Pamela] Hornberger, chair of the House Education Committee.”

Hornberger, who is running for Senate, echoed Theis’ comments.

“Homeschooling has been around in Michigan for 30-plus years,” she told me. “We’ve had the same law since 1996, and from what I’ve seen, homeschoolers are doing a great job. I see no need to change our laws.”

Standing Together

HSLDA agrees. There is no reason to impose additional burdens on law-abiding families because of allegations against a few. Laws that are on the books to protect children are effective, and when properly enforced address situations where children are being harmed.

Our system of laws was built on the idea that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and HSLDA commends state legislators who are willing to protect homeschooling freedom.

We will continue to work hard to ensure that the homeschooling community has helpful resources and to support the freedom for parents to homeschool their children.  We invite all freedom-loving people to support our mission to make homeschooling possible by joining or donating today.