Faye Marcinko: “Homeschooling in America is full of contradictions and extremes”

“The idea that I have the ‘right’ to do anything I want with my child, without respect to his/her or society’s well-being, strikes me as utterly barbaric.”

I am a former attorney homeschooling my child because I love learning and want to share it with them rather than outsourcing it to institutions that are distracted by many concerns other than education. Homeschooling has been a wonderful thing for our family and my academically advanced child. I think homeschooling should be legal–and heavily regulated.

I am troubled by the prevalence of stories about abuse and neglect of homeschooled children. I am also saddened to see that many in the homeschool community have taken a “rights” approach to the problem of how homeschooing should be regulated. The idea that I have the “right” to do anything I want with my child, without respect to his/her or society’s well-being, strikes me as utterly barbaric.

Unfortunately, this idea is embraced too readily by people in the homeschooling community, some of whom have been whipped into an “us vs them” frenzy with respect to government oversight by conservative organizations and online echo chambers.

Homeschooling in America is full of contradictions and extremes. Homeschooling parents include both those who want to give their children more love and support than average and those who want to give them less, those who want a more rigorous education than public school provides and those who want virtually no education at all. Unfortunately, mentally ill, abusive “child hoarders” seem to have also discovered homeschooling as a means to prevent the outside world from interfering with the dark worlds they create.

Both lawmakers and the homeschooling community need to reckon with these contradictions in order to find a regulatory solution that preserves the opportunities of homeschooling while eliminating its terrible dangers.

Faye Marcinko homeschools her children in California. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.

Jackie H.: “You owe your child a proper education”

“If you are a parent reading this: Ask yourself, why am I homeschooling? Can I give my child a proper education? You owe your child a proper education.”

I was homeschooled from kindergarten to eighth grade and also tenth grade. I went to private school in the 9th grade and public school my last two years. My early homeschooling experiences were pleasant. We were involved in a homeschool group, and we were able to go on many outings, and my mother put a lot of effort into our education.

In middle school I began struggling with math. Our homeschooling group also dissolved around that time. Despite my mom’s best efforts she could just not teach that subject. During my tenth grade year she got me a tutor. However I was already so far behind it didn’t make a difference. During my eventual private and public school years I failed math multiple times. I simply lacked the building blocks to continue learning.

I don’t remember much oversight. For my tenth grade year my mother was supposed to write a letter to the town and explain that I was being homeschooled. That never happened, so when I went to public school they didn’t accept my credits. I basically had to squeeze 3 years of high school into 2.

Oversight would have helped me stay on track in math and science. It could also have ensured that I was being properly socialized. Years later I still have social deficits and I believe I could have gone farther academically if I received proper teaching. I am ashamed to say that was academically dishonest in college in math. I literally could not do it on my own, and I couldn’t finish my degree without it. What was I supposed to do? Fail out of college and be more of a victim of homeschooling?

If you are a parent reading this: Ask yourself, why am I homeschooling? Can I give my child a proper education? You owe your child a proper education. It is lazy and irresponsible to simply pull your child out of public school because you are afraid of them learning evolution or about sex. You are handicapping them for the future.

Jackie H. was homeschooled in Massachusetts from 1995-2009. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.

Elle S.: “Some years I had science, most years I didn’t”

“There was a direct correlation between the minimum legal requirements for homeschooling in the state where I was home-educated, Ohio, and the content of the education that I received.”

I went to a private school from grades 1-4. During fourth grade I was pulled out of school during an unexpected move and homeschooled through high school. 

I like to imagine that eventually there will be a form of homeschooling oversight where kids will also have a voice in their educations. If someone had asked me, I would have told them what I told my parents – that I wanted to go to a good school. 

However, in the meantime, reasonable oversight at the state level is also very important. There was a direct correlation between the minimum legal requirements for homeschooling in the state where I was home-educated, Ohio, and the content of the education that I received.

In Ohio, parents needed to notify the superintendent of their intention to homeschool every year, and to document progress in one of three ways. They could either verify student progress through yearly standardized tests, submit a portfolio of student work, or arrange an alternative assessment with the superintendent. 

However, parents could also opt out of the social studies and science sections of the standardized test, or at least my parents did this and didn’t get in trouble. The mandatory portions of the standardized tests covered only reading comprehension and math. So basically, they were only required to demonstrate that I got reasonable scores on reading comprehension and math. 

Theoretically in Ohio, all students should receive 900 hours of instruction in reading, math and the following other required subjects: writing, geography, history of the United States and Ohio, civics, science, health, physical education, fine arts including music, and first aid, safety, and fire prevention. 

My parents chose an ambitious reading curriculum and were careful to meet the minimum reporting requirements, but only taught me subjects other than reading and math when they felt like it. There was no system to check whether I was being taught about history, science, or, geography, so many of these subjects were addressed by my parents only in an ad hoc way. Some years I had science, most years I didn’t. I had organized opportunities to participate in physical activity some years and not others. I also was not receiving 900 hours a year of instruction time. 150 hours a year is a generous estimate of the hours of direct instruction I received per year during high school. 

I was often left to teach myself, unsupervised, or my only instruction was in internet classes, where my parents did not supervise my engagement or progress. I was motivated to participate and luckily already an avid reader, but another student in the same situation could easily have completely disengaged because there was no social interaction, competition or accountability. It would be easy in that situation to imagine that you are unable to learn, and for that to change your relationship with education for life.

A required annual portfolio and a sit-down with a professional educator would have motivated my parents to give at least some attention to each of the “required” subjects. It would have also revealed that I was producing very little homework – four short papers a year, and a lot of math worksheets. This would have hinted at the fact that they were not meeting the required number of hours of instruction and provided an opportunity for intervention. 

An experienced educator could also have helped my parents better judge the reading curriculum that was sold to them – an English teacher would have been in a position to suggest that perhaps, in spite of my large vocabulary and high scores on reading comprehension exams, I was unprepared for and clearly uncomprehending of the complicated philosophy texts that they were on my high school syllabus. An experienced teacher could have suggested appropriately challenging reading material. Talking with an educator might have also been helpful to my parents when they were feeling overwhelmed or disengaged. An educator might have also been able to suggest enrichment opportunities to help cover subjects that my parents didn’t feel prepared to teach.

Without that oversight, I went to college deeply unprepared for classes that involved writing, STEM subjects, public speaking, or required general cultural knowledge to contextualize current events. I quickly realized there were only a few majors in which I could be successful, and played to my strengths while beginning a long personal journey of remedial education. I felt a great deal of shame about my educational and skill gaps and that is one reason that I have waited so long to speak publicly about my experience.

I support oversight for home education because education is an opportunity to share the richness of the world with kids and help them engage that world. Parents who choose to home educate should have support and accountability in teaching all the required subjects at a level that is appropriate to each student.

Elle S. was homeschooled in Ohio from 1993-2002. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.

Erika S.: “Verbal and physical abuse was a norm”

“My ‘education’ was in spite of my homeschool education.”

My experience homeschooling was a fight to survive and every day a focus to cultivate skills for after I left. I went to public school through 6th grade and my mother decided to give homeschooling a trial period through the summer. I insisted on daily work and was obsessive with “not getting behind”.

I set 6am alarms and read through text books until I couldn’t retain any more. My mom yelled so much when teaching that I eventually gave up in favor of independent study. (Reading through text books with both the text and master key in order to try to teach myself.)

I had no classes past 6th grade and two co-op classes. With some subjects, such as science, I remained permanently at a 6th grade level. Instead of school subjects, the focus of interest from my parents became sports and later forensics speech and debate which they referred to as their “ministry”.

At fourteen, I was sexually abused by my father and told my mother. She immediately silenced me and the next day I went to co-op as usual and she scolded me in the bathroom for crying. Verbal and physical abuse was a norm. Even at 17 years old I was drug across the floor for “acts of disobedience” including taking a college final instead of going to a debate tournament.

My independent study gave me vacations from the abuse. I tested into college at sixteen and took dual credit classes and tested out of several subjects. I even got a job working as a student tutor at the college. When I graduated in 2010, I had 90 college credits and was all but one year away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree.

My “education” was in spite of my homeschool education. I received a zero in my college precalculus class due to my parents refusing to let me miss the regional debate tournament. Even with the zero, I made a B in the class. I made sure to schedule a 7-10pm class as often as possible just to stay away from home.

I finally left home after being told I needed to judge a debate tournament when I had other plans. I filed a police report for the sexual abuse, but due to the amount of time delayed and my parents investing a fortune in an attorney, nothing was done. I was denied contact with my siblings after I left.

Looking back as a homeschool alumni, I feel that the educational neglect reflected by my experience is routine. I believe that the abuse of children in homeschooling is rampant and unchecked. I wholeheartedly support homeschooling regulations and believe that required curriculum should include regular access to counseling from a professional.

Erika S. was homeschooled in Texas from 2002-2010. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.

Horrific Homeschool Homicide Case Changes Laws, But It Is Not Enough

A horrific murder case has come out of Georgia in recent weeks which is changing homeschool law in that state. Finally, law-makers are attempting to create more regulations to protect children who are pulled from public school under suspicious circumstances. From WSAV 3 News:

‘Representatives Bill Hitchens, Jon Burns, and Ron Stephens of Rincon introduced House Bill 530 which would prohibit parents from removing kids from public school to avoid complying with attendance and disciplinary laws.

The Department of Children and Family Services (DFCS) would also be notified if a child is withdrawn from school without notification or stops attending school for an extended period or cannot be located.  Currently, parents are only required to give notice once a year with the student’s information.

Stephens says the bill was amended Wednesday to protect homeschoolers. He says the purpose is “If there is any indication of a child in the school that has had a past history of abuse then it ought to be notified through the school system that the Department of Children and Family Services ought to go investigate it. And these two kids in Guyton fell through the cracks clearly and all we’re trying to do is remedy that.”‘

In many of the homeschool homicide cases in this blog, children were pulled from public school to be homeschooled, which was easy for parents to do, because of little to no regulation around homeschooling. Even parents with Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or Child Protective Services (CPS) cases have been able to pull their children from school in order to continue and escalate abuse at home without being found out.

However, in many of the most horrific child abuse and homicide cases, DCFS was already aware of the abuse before the homicide occurred.

Elwyn Crocker 

Crocker Elwyn
Elwyn Crocker mugshot

Elwyn Crocker fathered three children with two different women. The children are Mary, Elwyn Jr., and James. Elwyn was investigated in South Carolina in 2008 for assaulting the mother of one of his children, Rebecca Grantham Self. Rebecca and Elwyn are the parents of James, born in 2007. In 2008, Rebecca told police that Elwyn grabbed her by the throat, slammed her into a wall, and also hurt baby James, after Elwyn flew into a rage. James has cerebral palsy. At the time, children Mary and Elwyn Jr. were living with the couple. Mary and Elwyn share the same mother, who so far has been unable to be reached for comment in this case, and is reportedly homeless. Self was later convicted of assaulting Crocker. Crocker was never charged, and the Department of Social Services gave him James to take care of after the couple split up.

Later, Elwyn married a woman named Candice, and moved to Georgia with the three children, settling in a trailer park in Rincon. Police and the Department of Children and Family Services were called many times in the years after Elwyn was investigated for assaulting Rebecca Self, this time about his new family with Candice.

In 2012 and 2013, records show that DCFS investigated Elwyn and Candice for child abuse, and the couple were required to take parenting classes due to their abusing Elwyn Jr. Candice’s mother Kim Wright and uncle Mark Wright began to hang around the trailer, and neighbors report that family life noticeably deteriorated as a result.

Things evidently got even worse when Elwyn and Candice moved, along with the children, into a trailer in Guyton that Kim Wright shared with her son, Tony Wright, and her boyfriend, Roy Anthony Prater.

James, Mary and Elwyn Crocker, Jr. 

crocker children
Mary and Elwyn, Jr. school phtos

On March 16th, 2017, a neighbor of Elwyn Jr.’s reported to a counselor that she had seen him being beaten by his grandmother, Kim Wright, with a belt for more than an hour, about a year prior, in 2016. She came forward to talk about it after seeing a presentation at school about child abuse. DCFS were notified but declined to investigate the case, saying that it had happened a year ago, even though they were aware of the 2012 and 2013 incidents involving Elwyn Jr. It is quite possible that Elwyn was already dead by the time his classmate reported the abuse and DCFS was again notified. He had not been seen since November, 2016.

Police had also been called multiple times to the Guyton trailer due to constant fighting between the adults who lived in the home. Child welfare agencies looked into the situation during these times.

At some point, the Crocker and Wright families began to keep Mary, age 14, in a dog kennel in the kitchen, zip tied and naked. She was starved and given purposely distasteful food with vinegar in it. She became so stiff from being kept in the cage that the family would take her out and strap her to a ladder in order for her body to stretch. They also tased and physically abused her.

The abuse of Elwyn Jr. and Mary escalated to homicide, although how exactly they were killed is still not known.

crocker home
Crocker/Wright trailer on Rosebud Place.

A concerned citizen called police after Mary had been missing for some time. Police arrived at the home for a welfare check and questioned the adults present about the whereabouts of Mary. It was quickly determined that everyone was lying. The next morning, December 20th, deputies were led to the backyard by Elwyn senior, where he confessed that both Elwyn Jr. and Mary were buried there. A neighbor has since come forward to tell reporters that he witnessed Elwyn Crocker carrying out some kind of activity on the grounds of the home with a shovel in recent months.

James, age 11, was found alive in the trailer, laying on the floor of a bedroom with a blanket over him. James has been described as “not having been abused” in the media, but it is hard to say at this time what exactly happened in the house, and the fact that he was laying on the floor with a blanket over him does not necessarily sound good. James’ biological mother, Rebecca Self, told reporters that he was likely not abused, or as abused, as the other children, because the adults were dependent on his social security check. James has been placed in the care of social services.

According to Homeschooling’s Invisible Children:

‘Elwyn Jr. and Mary were enrolled in Effingham County public schools for most of their lives. Several reports were made about the family to child services. In January 2014, Elwyn Jr. was withdrawn from school to be homeschooled. He was last seen in November 2016 at age 14. Mary continued to attend school until May 2018. She was withdrawn from school to be homeschooled in August 2018. She was last seen in October 2018 at age 14.’

Reports indicate it is possible that the parents did not sign an official withdrawal form to withdraw the children from school.

I am unsure as to the educational status of James, who has not been as widely reported on as the other children. I have not found anything indicating that James was enrolled in public school. It is very likely that he was also “homeschooled”, although it is clear that the children were not being educated in this situation, but abused and neglected.

Crocker 5.png
From top left: Elwyn Crocker, Candice Crocker, Roy Prater, Mark Wright, Kim Wright. Mugshots.

Elwyn Crocker has been charged with felony murder, cruelty to children in the first degree, and concealing the death of another. The rest of the adults in the home were also arrested and charged. Mark Anthony Wright was charged with cruelty to children in the first degree. Roy Anthony Prater was charged with concealing the death of another, cruelty to children in the first degree, and possession of a scheduled or controlled substance. Candice Crocker and Kim Wright were charged with concealing the death of another and cruelty to children in the first degree. All are currently being held in jail and it is likely there will be more charges.


Followers of this blog know how easy it is to withdraw a child from school in almost all U.S. states, and enroll them in a “homeschool”. In many cases, it is a legitimate homeschool and nothing is wrong. However, this lack of regulation has repeatedly been used to cover the most heinous child torture and homicide cases. The Crocker children, like homeschool homicide victim Erica Parsons, were missing for quite some time before their bodies were discovered, but had never been reported missing. Thankfully a neighbor noticed that Mary Crocker was suspiciously absent from the neighborhood and alerted police. But it still took months until law enforcement discovered her body. In the case of Elwyn Jr., it took years. The fear and pain Mary must have lived with, knowing her brother had been murdered by the adults in the home is hard to imagine. Like many homeschool homicide cases, Mary was tortured up until her death. Torture of a child is hard to conceal unless the child does not leave the home, and it is less likely that people will realize a child is missing if they have been homeschooled.

It is good that Georgia is attempting to enact legislation that would make these types of crimes harder to get away with. However, my concern is that DCFS had been called multiple times already in this case. The new legislation requires schools to contact DCFS if a child has been withdrawn from school under suspicious circumstances. That is one more call to DCFS where they may not do anything. While it is better than nothing, it is not enough.

There needs to be more laws around homeschooling than just something which requires yet another call to DCFS. DCFS had been called over the course of these children’s entire lives and nothing happened. While sometimes DCFS does a great job, in other cases they do not, and this is one of them. More regulations need to be in place around homeschool. If there were educational standards that children were required to reach, more reporting on the homeschool to the state, mandatory doctor visits, and mandatory disability services, there would be more opportunities for child abuse to be found out. Mary was reportedly malnourished, which is something a doctor would hopefully notice. Many tortured children are also starved.

There would also be less incentive for neglectful, abusive parents to withdraw children from school to start a “homeschool” if there were real requirements in place for proving the child is being educated. It might be a deterrent to abusers looking for an easy way to cover abuse if there were regulations around homeschool education. Abusive parents like the ones in this case are not pulling their kids out of school due to a genuine desire to give them a better education. They are pulling them out of school so they won’t be caught for abusing the children.

Starting a homeschool by providing an email address to the state and then doing nothing for years should not be something people should ever get away with, especially with disabled children. As I have written about before, the Americans with Disabilities Act is not optional. It covers everyone in the U.S. who has a disability. So why aren’t homeschooled disabled children required to receive disability services? One issue is that the ADA is a complaint-driven act. It is not enforced. However, if there were more laws around details like homeschooling, it would lead to the rights of disabled children being honored.

While James Crocker may “not have been abused” the situation he was living in was horrific. Subjecting a child to witnessing their sibling tied up in a dog cage and tasered is abuse. People think that children with cerebral palsy are not intelligent and do not know what is going on, a common bias about disabled people in general. All of the children in this case were abused. All of the children needed better monitoring. States need to have more than one reporting system in place for homeschooled children, and less incentive to pull your children out of school in the first place.

Homeschool Alumni Group Questions TN Voucher Proposal

For Immediate Release: District-run policies in Alaska and Iowa serve as better models for publicly funded homeschool support

Canton, Ma., 4/11/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Tennessee lawmakers to use caution when considering vouchers or other forms of public funding for homeschooled children. Legislation to create publicly funded Education Savings Accounts for private school and homeschooled students has created controversy in Tennessee throughout the most recent legislative season.

“There are better ways to support homeschooled students than Education Savings Accounts, which amount to simple cash transfers and rarely involve either sufficient accountability or the holistic support homeschooled students need,” said Coleman. “The best programs bring resources to both homeschooled students and school districts.”

Coleman pointed to Alaska’s district-run homeschool programs and Iowa’s Home School Assistance Programs as examples to be emulated.  

School districts across Alaska run programs that enroll homeschooled children. Districts receive state funding for these programs, and provide parents with reimbursements for education expenses. Families are assigned a teacher who answers questions and supports the student’s progress. Many programs offer homeschool resource centers where students can take enrichment classes. Iowa’s district-run Home School Assistance Programs operate similarly: school districts that run these programs receive state funding, offer homeschooling parents access to homeschool resource centers, and grant homeschooled children access to public school programs, classes, and support services.

“When states provide public funding directly to homeschooling families, it is imperative to ensure that the expenditures are accounted for,” Coleman said. In Alaska, there are strict guidelines surrounding what expenses can and cannot be reimbursed. Lawmakers in some states have voiced concern about the abuse of other forms of direct-aid, such as adoption subsidies which incentivize parents to adopt older children or children with disabilities.

“While many homeschooling parents provide their children with a rich, child-centered educational environment, some parents homeschool to hide drug problems, cover up parental neglect, or avoid mandatory reporters,” said Coleman. “Providing funding without accountability could encourage such parents to choose homeschooling for a financial payout, without considering their children’s best interests.”

“We are pleased to see Tennessee lawmakers thinking about the needs of homeschooled students,” Coleman said. “Rather than tacking homeschoolers onto a program designed to help families pay private school tuition, however, we would urge lawmakers to consider implementing policies like those in Alaska and Iowa, which center homeschooled children’s needs in a more holistic way.”

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.

Homeschool Alumni Urge MO to Keep Record Keeping Requirement

For Immediate Release: Both record keeping requirements and subject requirements provide critical support to homeschooled children

Canton, Ma., 04/10/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Missouri lawmakers to amend a provision in House Bill 1139 that would allow homeschooling parents in the state to choose to either keep records of their children’s education or provide instruction in a list of required subjects.

“HB 1139 would be detrimental to the education of children homeschooled in Missouri,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

Parents who homeschool their children in Missouri are required to maintain records such as a plan book, samples of the child’s work, or evaluations of the child’s progress; and are required to provide at least a thousand hours of instruction, six hundred of which must be in “reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science.”

HB 1139 would change the “and” between these two requirements to an “or,” allowing parents to either keep records or meet the state’s subject requirements. If HB 1139 becomes law as written, a parent could choose not to teach a child mathematics, or science, or reading, and still be in compliance with state law.

“These requirements should absolutely not be either/or,” said Coleman. “Homeschool statutes need both record keeping requirements and subject requirements.” When a homeschooling parent fails to keep good records of a child’s education, Coleman explained, it can be extremely difficult for that parent to create a high school transcript. “Good record keeping is paramount,” said Coleman. “When a homeschooling parent does not keep records of their child’s education, no one does.”

Coleman also pointed out that state law requires parents to show their records if there is any question about whether they are homeschooling in accordance with the law.

“If parents can opt out of the record keeping requirement, what happens if questions arise about their homeschool?” Coleman asked. “Requiring homeschooling parents to both keep records and provide instruction in core subjects only makes sense.”

Coleman did not express concern about other provisions in the HB 1139, which would clarify that any individually identifiable information about homeschoolers held by the school district is confidential and make a voluntary process for parents notifying their local school districts of their intent to homeschool more straightforward.

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.

Victory for Homeschooled Students in Georgia!

For Immediate Release: Lawmakers supported homeschooled students last week by passing bill to catch parents who abuse the law

Canton, Ma., 04/03/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is commending Georgia lawmakers for passing House Bill 530. HB 530, which creates greater protections for homeschooled students, is a legislative reform motivated by the deaths of Elwyn and Mary Crocker, two Georgia children whose bodies were found last December. The siblings were withdrawn from school to be homeschooled, and subsequently murdered.

“We would like to thank Georgia lawmakers for taking the time to listen to all of the voices in the homeschool community, including those of homeschool alumni,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “We deeply appreciate Georgia lawmakers’ willingness to center the needs of homeschooled children, and their commitment to finding a workable solution.” Georgia is the first state to add protections for at-risk homeschooled children since 2009, when the District of Columbia added an assessment process following a quadruple murder.

Efforts to create protections for homeschooled children sometimes face pushback from groups that oppose accountability measures for homeschooling. Coleman attributes the success of HB 530 in part to its design, which clearly and forcefully targeted fraudulent homeschooling. HB 530 would flag cases where parents remove children from school to begin homeschooling but fail to fill out a required online declaration of intent form within 45 days, forwarding such cases to the Division of Family and Children Services for an assessment.

In mid-February, Samantha Field, a policy advocate and board member for CRHE, went on air with Georgia Public Broadcasting to discuss the Crocker case, alongside Georgia Rep. Bill Hitchens. CRHE also submitted written testimony in support of HB 530. Coleman is thrilled to see the bill pass. “This is a momentous step toward better protecting Georgia’s homeschooled children,” said Coleman. “We urge Governor Brian Kemp to sign HB 530.”

A growing body of research suggests that the Crocker children’s deaths are not an isolated case. In 2014, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin found that 47% of the school-age child torture victims she studied were removed from school to be homeschooled; in 2018, a state official in Connecticut found that 36% of children removed from school to be homeschooled lived in families that were subject to at least one prior child abuse or neglect report. CRHE maintains a database of severe and fatal abuse cases in homeschool settings; this database has twenty-two Georgia cases, including the 2013 death of Emani Moss.

HB 530 is designed to prevent future cases like those of the Crocker children, or like that of Emani Moss. Rep. Bill Hitchens, who sponsored HB 530, wrote in an editorial that “[t]he heart of this bill is the protection of children from parents who use homeschooling to shield themselves from the law,” adding that “[w]e have poured countless hours into this legislation because we never want there to be another Crocker family tragedy.”

Coleman cautions that the work is not over yet, and says that HB 530 should be seen as only the first step toward better protecting Georgia’s homeschooled children. “It is our hope that future legislation will create a flagging system for cases where parents begin homeschooling following a concerning history of child abuse or neglect reports,” said Coleman.  

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.

Homeschool Alumni Support Arkansas Dual Enrollment Bill

For Immediate Release: Everyone benefits when public schools are funded to provide services to homeschooled students

Canton, Ma., 03/04/2019—Last week, the Arkansas House passed House Bill 1419, which would expand homeschooled students’ access to individual public school classes. The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging state senators to support the bill, which has now moved to the Senate Education Committee.

“Access to curricular programs allows homeschooled students to enroll in individual public school classes in areas parents don’t feel comfortable teaching,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Not all homeschooling parents have the resources needed to hire private tutors for difficult subjects, making bills like HB 1419 important.”

In 2017, Arkansas lawmakers passed a statute that was intended to open curricular classes to homeschooled students, but a report from the University of Arkansas’ Office of Education Policy found that this policy was not being effectively implemented. SB 1419 would amend the language of the statute from “may” to “shall,” preventing school districts from choosing not to enroll homeschooled students. School districts would be still permitted to limit enrollment if such enrollment created a financial loss for the school district.

Coleman points to the existence of a “homeschool math gap. “There is a large body of research that suggests homeschooled students underperform in math,” said Coleman. “Allowing homeschooling parents to enroll their children in individual math classes could help close that gap for individual students.” Coleman also points to the benefits of allowing homeschooled students to enroll in art classes, or in extracurriculars such as band.  

“Homeschooling often includes a significant financial outlay in terms of curriculum, classes, and the sacrifice of one parent’s income,” said Coleman. “Not all homeschooling parents have the means to pay for tutors or other enrichments.” Data from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests that homeschooled students are no less likely to be low income than other students. In fact, the most recent numbers suggest that homeschooled students may actually be more likely to be below the poverty level than their peers, with over 20% of homeschooled students living below the poverty level.

“The interests of school districts and homeschooled students need not run counter to each other,” adds Coleman. “Some states have created innovative programs that encourage school districts and homeschoolers to work together. Alaska’s district-run homeschool programs and Iowa’s Home School Assistance Programs are excellent examples.” CRHE recommends providing school districts with partial funding allotments for homeschooled students they enroll. “Providing school districts with funding for the services they offer homeschoolers gives districts an incentive to publicize these programs while bringing resources to school districts.”

“Homeschooled students and families benefit from positive relationships between homeschool communities and local public schools,” said Coleman. “We applaud the Arkansas House for passing HB 1419 and urge the Arkansas Senate to do the same.”

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.

Alumni Group Supports CT Homeschool Notice Proposal

For Immediate Release: Requiring parents to provide notice that they are homeschooling is reasonable and beneficial

Canton, Ma., 03/04/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging lawmakers to support homeschooling provisions included in Connecticut Senate Bill 874. These provisions, included in an omnibus education bill, would require parents of homeschooled students to sign an annual registration form indicating that the student will be receiving home instruction.  

“Requiring parents to notify local education officials that they are homeschooling is simple common sense,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “On the most basic level, it means that school districts have a list of which students are being homeschooled, ensuring that homeschooling families will not be unnecessarily investigated for truancy.”

Last week, some Connecticut homeschooling parents attended a hearing for SB 874 to oppose the bill’s homeschool notice provision. “This opposition is based on fear mongering rather than reality,” said Coleman. Coleman acknowledges that the homeschool notice provision in SB 874 may be related to a report last year from the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate that found that 36% of students removed from school to be homeschooled had past child abuse or neglect reports. However, she points out that the language in SB 874 would not subject homeschooling parents to any additional scrutiny.

“Some homeschooling parents have claimed that registration lists would be turned over to the Department of Children and Families,” said Coleman. “But even if the Office of the Child Advocate used these lists to improve their research, that would not involve any investigation or additional scrutiny of these families. Homeschooling parents should be in favor of good, accurate research, especially in an area that brings out as many emotions as child abuse.”

The Office of the Child Advocate’s 2018 report on the percentage of homeschooling families subject to prior child abuse and neglect reports cross-referenced school districts’ records of students withdrawn from school to be homeschooled with DCF records, and did not include any contact with these families. The OCA’s data included only homeschooled students who were previously enrolled in public school, and not those who were always homeschooled.

“Many homeschooling parents were upset with the OCA’s report and dismissive of its validity,” said Coleman. “But if they want to ensure that the OCA has accurate data, they have to drop their opposition to the most basic data collection. This is not about investigating homeschooling families,” added Coleman. “It is about ensuring that school districts have a list of students being homeschooled within their boundaries.”

“Families benefit when school districts have an accurate accounting of homeschooled students,” said Coleman. “This record keeping helps ensure that homeschooling families are not needlessly investigated for truancy, and it may encourage school districts to make individual classes or extracurriculars available to homeschooled students.”  

The OCA report is not alone in raising concern about negligent parents using homeschooling to isolate children and hide child abuse. In 2014, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin found that 47% of the school-age child torture victims she studied were removed from school to be homeschooled. “We recommend creating a screening system for new homeschooling parents that flags cases where there are signs for concern,” said Coleman. “Such a process may be introduced in the future, but is not currently included in any Connecticut legislation.”  

“Homeschooling parents have nothing to fear from a notice requirement, and a lot to gain,” said Coleman. “We urge Connecticut lawmakers to support the homeschool notice provisions included in SB 874.”

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.