March 17, 2023
Attacks on all homeschoolers are enabled by government funding of some homeschoolers. It has already begun in Utah. See this troubling video segment (3:33):
Earlier this year it was discovered that a private homeschool group in Ohio was distributing neo-Nazi propaganda to its members. Some parents here are concerned that taxpayer dollars could go to fund something similar here in Utah, thanks in part to the new school voucher law….
“They can teach anything they want and there’s no regulation…. Teaching Hitler’s ideology — you could do that. And you can use voucher money to do that….”
Even more than ever, oversight needs to be very robust….
“On a larger societal scale, if we as a community think this is what should be taught and this is what should not be taught, we have no say.”
A similar Canadian example left homeschoolers burdened with unwarranted regulations for over 25 years:
I have personally observed the consequences of home schoolers receiving government money in other nations. I serve as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Home School Legal Defense Association of Canada.
The province of Alberta had always been one of the least regulated provinces to home school in until, in the early 1990s, legislation was passed to give all home school parents a government voucher of $500 per child.
The very next year, complex requirements were enacted for all home schoolers, transforming Alberta into one of the most regulated provinces. When questioned, the Alberta Minister of Education explained the new regulations were necessary since they had to know about the home schoolers since many were receiving the voucher money.Christopher Klicka, Home Schooling: The Right Choice, January 2000, pages 216-217
In both these cases, the illogic is, “We need to know/control how government money is being spent, so we need accountability regulations even on those homeschoolers who are not taking the money.” That was the Alberta Minister of Education’s position.
The Utah TV station said, “Even more than ever, oversight needs to be very robust.” Their stance on homeschool regulation was in place even before the voucher money existed. So, obviously, they want all homeschoolers covered by the “robust” regulations, not just those who take government money.
There are three likely options available to lawmakers in School Choice states regarding adding homeschool regulations:
- Give government education money to those homeschoolers who want it, but keep the funded homeschoolers and unfunded homeschoolers all in the same legal category.
It leaves unfunded homeschoolers liable to being dragged under accountability regulations designed for funded homeschoolers. This is what happened in Alberta and now threatens homeschoolers in Utah.
- Set up distinct legal categories for homeschoolers who take the education money and for those who do not.
While this makes it harder to copy accountability regulations onto unfunded homeschoolers, it is an unstable solution. Legislators may later try to fiddle with the protective legal categories, eliminating homeschooler safety mechanisms because of other considerations — as happened in West Virginia.
- Prevent any homeschoolers from getting government education funding, eliminating homeschoolers from School Choice bills.
This is the only option that is safe for those homeschoolers who will not be taking government education funds.