In one of the most ignorant hit pieces to grace the pages of a major newspaper in a long time, Detroit News writer Ron French makes the case that because of a couple of issues of overt child abuse, homeschool kids are in danger in their own homes from their parents and that the state needs the authority to monitor homeschooled kids. His article Lax home-school laws put kids at risk links a few isolated cases of child abuse, which is already illegal, to homeschooling which is perfectly legal in the state of Michigan. Because homeschooled kids are not in the public school system where the teachers can allegedly spot and report abuse, they are in danger.
Michigan has one of the most lenient home school laws in the nation, giving tens of thousands of families the freedom to teach their children in the manner they want without government interference. But timid and sporadic enforcement of the law's minimal requirements has been exploited by some unscrupulous parents hiding abuse or educational neglect.
Because the state is barred from collecting any data on home school students, it's impossible to know how many parents may be abusing the law or how well those students are doing academically. But at least two deaths can be traced to parents pulling their children from public schools to squelch abuse complaints, authorities say. In both cases, parents claimed they were home schooling their children despite having no books or educational materials in their homes.
Others have used home schooling as an excuse to keep children at home to care for younger siblings or ailing parents, without providing any educational materials.
Just what can be done in such cases -- and who can do it -- is so unclear that some officials call a false claim of home schooling a "get-out-of-jail-free card."
"As long as home schooling is as lax as it is," said Charlotte Smith, a state Office of Children's Ombudsman intake officer, "it's an avenue for parents to hide abuse."
"At least two deaths". When you only have two deaths that can be linked in any way to homeschooling, using "at least two deaths" is a cheap way of implying that their may be countless kids killed in their homes by evil homeschooling parents. So based on two incidents, incidents that have only an ancillary relation to homeschooling, Mr. French wants the state of Michigan to have greater control and oversight of homeschooling. This editorial is typical stuff from those who think that the state, not parents, knows what is best for kids.
The tragic irony of this is that Mr. French, writing in Detroit, thinks that kids are safer going to a public school because of the increased "oversight". Tell that to the seven kids shot on June 30 in front of a Detroit Public School:
Gunmen in a green minivan opened fire on a group of teenagers waiting at a bus stop near a Detroit school on Tuesday, wounding seven including two who were in critical condition, authorities said.
Tell me again, where are kids "safest" if that is the concern? That is just one of the many incidents of school violence in the Detroit schools. Not to mention the report on education in his own paper that sported this headline: Detroit parents want DPS teachers, officials jailed over low test scores. Might I suggest that the problem with education in Michigan, whether in results or safety, is not found in "lax" homeschooling laws but in the public school system. My kids are getting a good education and are very unlikely to get shot in front of my house. Detroit kids have the worst math scores in the country. He wants to give the same people who give us results like that more control over education in Michigan? Public school teachers have a hard enough time trying to teach kids math and English, I think it is insane to add to that "child abuse spotter".
Mr. French, writing for the Detroit News, ought to focus his energy on the shooting gallery that we call the Detroit Public School system. Leave the parents of Michigan who choose to educate their kids at home instead of turning them over to the state alone. We aren't the problem.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association wrote an excellent rebuttal to Mr. French, you can read it here.