WNPR

Home School Parents Say Regulations Are Not The Answer

May 9, 2018

For Erin Ring-Howell, home schooling her two kids was a practical choice.

"It's for many reasons,” Ring-Howell said. “Education purposes, and also, I'm a professional singer, and that would allow them to travel with me as opposed to staying home and me being apart from them."

Ring-Howell was one of about 100 parents and kids who gathered in Hartford on Tuesday to push back against a state report that's calling for some regulations. Connecticut is one of only a handful of states where home schooling is unregulated.

Their concerns centered around a recent report from the Office of the Child Advocate. The report called on the legislature to consider regulating home schools in Connecticut, but home-school advocates say government interference is not necessary.

The report also found that there's no requirement to follow up with kids who are removed from public school to be home-schooled. This can make it more difficult for them to be identified if they are victims of abuse, the child advocate found.

But people in the community can do the same thing, said Deborah Stevenson, an attorney who runs a group that defends home schooling.

"There are parents in the home-school community who have reported other parents,” Stevenson said. "Whenever there's a problem, anyone who sees it -- your neighbor, anybody -- can report it to DCF."

However, school employees are considered mandated reporters -- they're required to report abuse or neglect when they see it, points out child advocate Sarah Eagan.

"Are there mandated reporters that need to do a better job? Yes,” Eagan said. “But the facts remain, that in the state of Connecticut school officials are a leading source of reports about suspected abuse or neglect."

Home-school advocates say home-school is the answer to complicated and growing problems in public schools -- bullying, poor performance, and the potential for violence.