Homeschool Alumni Urge GA Lawmakers to Grant Sports Access

For Immediate Release: Everyone wins when homeschooled students are allowed to play on public school sports teams

Canton, Ma., 02/28/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Georgia lawmakers to support House Bill 87, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. “Access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

“Homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools typically gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis,” said Coleman. Critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students; Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools.

Coleman suggests amending HB 87 in one area. “Public school athletes have to meet certain academic standards, but HB 87 as currently written requires only a statement from a homeschooling parent that their child is receiving a passing grade,” she said. The problem, Coleman explained, is that the school district has no way to verify this. “HB 87 bars students from participating in public school athletics for six months after being withdrawn from public school to prevent parents of student athletes from gaming the system,” Coleman said. “Not ensuring that student athletes who are homeschooled are meeting basic academic standards creates other loopholes.” States that allow homeschool participation in public school athletics typically require test scores or other proof of academic proficiency.

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Survey respondents overwhelmingly believed that athletic participation was beneficial to homeschooled students (87%). Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” Four in five respondents (80%) believed that public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students.

Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Georgia in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge Georgia lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by taking action on HB 87.”

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 to NY: Give Homeschoolers Sports Access

For Immediate Release: Everyone wins when homeschooled students are allowed to play on public school sports teams

Canton, Ma., 02/28/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging New York lawmakers to support Assembly Bill 706, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. “Access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

“Homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools typically gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis,” said Coleman. Critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students; Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools.

“Assembly Bill 706 does not give homeschooled students special treatment,” said Coleman. “The bill requires homeschooled students who wish to participate in public school athletics programs to meet high academic standards and abide by public school requirements.” Coleman says that Assembly Bill 706 is about opening new opportunities to a population that is currently underserved in the area of athletics opportunities.

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Survey respondents overwhelmingly believed that athletic participation was beneficial to homeschooled students (87%). Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” Four in five respondents (80%) believed that public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students.

“Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting New York in the minority. “We urge New York lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by supporting Assembly Bill 706.”

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 to Hawaii: Let Homeschoolers Play Sports

For Immediate Release: Everyone wins when homeschooled students are allowed to play on public school sports teams

Canton, Ma., 02/28/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Hawai’i lawmakers to support Senate Bill 593 and House Bill 537, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. “Access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

“Homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools tend to gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis,” said Coleman. Critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students; Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools.

“This is not about giving homeschooled students special treatment,” said Coleman. “It’s about opening new opportunities to a population that is currently underserved in the area of athletics.” Under the proposed legislation, the Hawai’i Department of Education would be authorized develop rules governing students’ participation, including academic standards.

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Survey respondents overwhelmingly believed that athletic participation was beneficial to homeschooled students (87%). Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” Four in five respondents (80%) believed that public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students.

“Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Hawai’i in the minority. “We urge Hawai’i lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by supporting SB 593 and HB 5376.”

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 Iowa Homeschool Reporting Proposal

For Immediate Release: Putting homeschool families in annual contact with district officials benefits homeschooled children and promotes healthy district-family relations

Canton, Ma., 02/27/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, supports Iowa Senate File 224, a bill that would require parents homeschooling under the independent private instruction option to notify the local superintendent of their intent to homeschool by September 1st each school year. “Currently, Iowa does not keep any list of students that are homeschooled,” said Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Knowing who is and is not homeschooling cuts through confusion for parents and truancy officers alike.”

“We also appreciate that this bill would require the annual notice to be delivered in person,” Coleman said. S.F. 224 would require “the child, and the parent, guardian, or legal custodian who intends to place the child under independent private instruction for the school year … to meet in person with the superintendent of the school district in which the child resides in order to provide notice of such intent.” Coleman notes that this provision was likely added to prevent abusive parents from taking advantage of the statute to hide maltreatment.

“When abused child is homeschooled, that child is often severely isolated,” Coleman said. “Getting these children in the presence of mandatory reporters can offer an opportunity for someone to notice that something is wrong when there is no one else to see.”

In recent years, Iowa has been rocked by a series of high-profile teenage child abuse cases. 16-year-old Natalie Finn starved to death in October 2016; 18-year-old Malayia Knapp went public with her own history of abuse in early 2017; and in May 2017 the body of 16-year-old Sabrina Ray was discovered in her parents’ basement. All three were homeschooled. Lawmakers may have been thinking of these cases when drafting S.F. 224.

“There is a growing body of research that makes it clear that abusive parents can and do take advantage of lax homeschooling laws like those in Iowa to hide abuse,” Coleman said. 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.

Requiring homeschooling parents to deliver a notice of intent to homeschool in person might have another advantage: it would give parents the opportunity to learn about what resources the district offers homeschoolers. Many school districts in Iowa run “Home School Assistance Programs” that offer parents resources and access to enrichment programming.

“We urge Iowa lawmakers to pass S.F. 224,” said Coleman. “This bill benefits homeschooled students, homeschooling parents, and school districts all at once.”

CRHE has also released statements on H.F. 182 and H.F. 272.  
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 Opposes Watering Down of NY’s Homeschool Law

For Immediate Release: Removing Protections Undermines Homeschooled Children’s Interests

Canton, Ma., 2/27/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is opposing New York Assembly Bill 1769. “This bill would weaken the state’s protections for homeschooled students by allowing parents to administer their children’s standardized tests themselves and making it more difficult for underperforming students to find help,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “New York does more than any other state to protect homeschooled children’s interests and should be commended for its dedication to these children and their education. This legislation would remove a layer of that protection and leave New York’s children at greater risk of educational neglect.”

“A.B. 1769 would allow homeschooling parents to administer their child’s standardized assessments themselves, in their own homes, creating conditions ripe for abuse,” said Coleman. “I have spoken personally with homeschool alumni whose parents gave them help during the test, gave them extra time, or changed their answers.” Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the Commissioner, which currently governs homeschooling in New York State, requires the individual administering students’ yearly norm-referenced achievement tests be approved by the superintendent. A.B. 1769 would eliminate this provision, allowing anyone who meets the test publisher’s criteria to administer the test; most testing services allow parents to administer their students’ tests after watching a short online tutorial.

According to Coleman, requiring assessments to be conducted by an individual other than the parent—ideally a certified teacher, she says—provides another potential benefit for students who are homeschooled: contact with mandatory reporters. “There is a growing body of research on abusive parents’ use of homeschooling to isolate children and conceal maltreatment,” Coleman said. “Allowing parents to administer their children’s assessments works to the advantage of parents who are homeschooling in order to hide something.”  

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.  

Assembly Bill 9091 and Senate Bill 4788 would also lower the threshold for adequate academic performance from the 33rd to the 23rd percentile, which Coleman says would make it harder for underperforming children to receive the remediation they need. Coleman also raises concern about another change: the elimination of a provision that allows the superintendent to conduct home visits when a homeschooling family is on probation and there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the family is “in substantial noncompliance.”

“When a child’s annual assessment shows inadequate progress, the home education program is put on probation and the parent must create a remediation plan to be approved by the school district,” says Coleman. “After that, the school district has only the parent’s word that the provisions of the remediation plan are being carried out. We have spoken with numerous individuals concerned about a younger sibling, nephew, or grandchild who is receiving an inadequate and neglectful homeschool education. If questions arise, the superintendent needs the authority to ascertain whether a child’s remediation plan is being implemented.”  

Coleman raises one final concern: “A.B. 1769 would take the authority to create rules governing homeschooling out of the hands of the New York State Board of Regents, making protections for homeschooled children less responsive,” she says. New York state Education Law § 3204.1-2 allows children to be educated “elsewhere” than a public school provided they receive instruction that is “substantially equivalent” to that provided in the public schools. In 1988, the New York State Board of Regents created Regulations of the Commissioner § 100.10, which has governed homeschooling since then, with revisions over time. “A.B. 1769 would turn Section 100.10 into law, with key omissions and changes, making it harder for the Board of Regents to make changes,” Coleman changes.

“New York state has long had some of the most comprehensive protections for homeschooled children in the country,” said Coleman. “I urge the legislature to maintain this record.” 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 to WA: Foster Kids Should Not Be Homeschooled

For Immediate Release: Foster children need access to mandatory reporters

Canton, Ma., 02/23/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging lawmakers to oppose House Bill 1760, which would overturn a department of social and health services rule preventing foster parents from homeschooling foster children in their care.

“Foster children are uniquely vulnerable to abuse. It is in their best interests to have regular access to multiple mandatory reporters as they do at school,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Because homeschooling can limit children’s access to mandatory reporters, it can remove these needed safeguards for foster children.”

CRHE maintains a database of severe and fatal child abuse and neglect cases that involved homeschooling. “We created the database in order to identify common themes,” said Coleman. “These themes in turn point to potential solutions. One of the themes we found is the use of homeschooling by foster and adoptive parents to isolate children and hide abuse.”

“It’s clear from cases we have catalogued, such as the Hart and Schumm cases, that abusive parents of foster children who attend school may begin homeschooling as soon as the adoption is finalized in order to better conceal their abuse,” said Dr. Chelsea McCracken, a research analyst who administers the organization’s database. “This Indicates that school attendance is serving as a protective function for foster children prior to adoption.”

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.

Officials in a number of states have become concerned about the role homeschooling can play in hiding child abuse and neglect. This year alone, officials in four different states—Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, and Louisiana—have proposed measures designed to provide homeschooled students with greater protections against abuse.  

“We urge Washington lawmakers to maintain the status quo and leave the department and social health services rule against homeschooling foster children in place,” said Coleman. “Homeschooling can have many benefits, but not every population is well served by being homeschooled. Foster children need access to mandatory reporters and safe adults.”

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 to TN Lawmakers: Support HB 917

For Immediate Release: Abusive parents should be prevented from using homeschooling to conceal abuse

Canton, Ma., 02/23/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, wholeheartedly supports Tennessee House Bill 917, introduced by Rep. Kelly Keisling on January 30th. HB 917 would make it a Class A misdemeanor to withdraw a child from school “with the intent to hinder an active child abuse or child neglect investigation.” The bill would also require parents under investigation for child abuse or neglect to receive permission from the investigating agency before altering a child’s school enrollment.

“States across the country, including Tennessee, created homeschool statutes to give children access to another form of education,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Unfortunately, some abusive parents have realized that they can use these same laws to isolate their children and conceal maltreatment.”  

In a study published in 2014, researches at the University of Wisconsin found that 47% of the school-age child torture victims they examined 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. Coleman says that many of the listings in her organization’s database of severe and fatal abuse cases in homeschool settings bear similar themes.

In 2017, a Kentucky lawmaker introduced a bill that would have barred parents subject to founded abuse or neglect reports from homeschooling. This bill was prompted by a case in Berea, Kentucky, where a child was removed from school to be homeschooled following a founded abuse report. The girl’s parents denied social workers access to the home, and the case floundered. The girl was later admitted to the hospital, severely abused.

“Requiring parents under investigation for child abuse to get approval before removing a child from school is an important step toward better protecting the state’s children,” said Coleman. CRHE also recommends preventing parents from homeschooling when they have a concerning history of past involvement with the Department of Children’s Services, and when they have been convicted of serious crimes that may pose risks to a child.

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 to Louisiana: Sex Offenders Shouldn’t Homeschool

For Immediate Release: Homeschooled children should have the same protections against abuse as children who attend traditional schools

Canton, Ma., 02/23/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, wholeheartedly supports Louisiana House Bill 5, introduced by Rep. Stephen Dwight on January 28th. HB 5 would prevent a registered sex offender from volunteering for or being employed by a home study program; and from being present in a home or other facility used for a home study program during the time when the home study program is being conducted.

“Children who are being educated at home need protections against sexual abuse,” said Coleman. “We are aware of numerous cases where registered sex offenders have used homeschooling to isolate their children, rendering them especially vulnerable to their abuse,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “In other cases, registered sex offenders have served as homeschool tutors and abused the children in their care.”

Louisiana law already bars registered sex offenders from serving as instructors or being present at a facility where a non-public school is being conducted (see R.S. 14:19.2 and R.S. 17:15). Because Louisiana allows children to be educated at home under either the state’s home study statute or the state’s non-public school law, these provisions apply to some but not all homeschooled children. HB 5 would close this gap. CRHE urges lawmakers to include protections from sexual and other forms of abuse in state homeschool statutes.

“Children who attend school have regular contact with mandatory reporters,” said Coleman. “This is not the case for homeschooled students. A growing body of research points to abusive parents’ use of homeschooling to isolate children and hide 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; 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.

“We applaud Rep. Dwight for introducing HB 5, and urge lawmakers to support it,” said Coleman. “HB 5 is a step forward for Louisiana’s homeschooled children.”

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 to AR: Address Homeschool Educational Neglect

For Immediate Release: Revisions to Arkansas’ educational neglect statute should include protections for homeschooled students

Canton, Ma., 02/21/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is expressing concern about Senate Bill 250, which would more narrowly define the circumstances under which educational neglect may be reported. A House Judiciary Committee hearing on SB 250 is scheduled for today at 10am. SB 250 would limit the Child Abuse Hotline to accepting only reports that include allegations that a parent failed to enroll the child in school or “lawfully home-school the child.”

“Arkansas’ homeschool statute has no subject requirements, no instruction time requirements, and no assessment requirements,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “As a result, under the current law a parent can educationally neglect a child while ‘lawfully’ homeschooling. Homeschooling parents are not legally required to educate their children.” Coleman worries that SB 250 would further hinder the Division of Children and Family Services’ ability to intervene in such cases. “Lawmakers should bring the state’s homeschool law more in line with that of other states by creating subject requirements,” says Coleman.

While many home educated students receive an excellent education, this is not always the case. “We have spoken with homeschool alumni across the country who were educationally neglected as children” said Coleman. “The effects of educational neglect can last well into adulthood.” According to research by CRHE, there is reason to believe that homeschooled children under-attend college relative to other children. Coleman also raises concern about parents who take advantage of lax homeschool laws to hide other forms of maltreatment.

“A growing body of research has shed light on the extent to which abusive parents are using the homeschool law to isolate and mistreat their children without detection,” said Coleman. 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. In many cases, parents who homeschool to conceal abuse also do not educate their children.

“This is not the time to curtail the Division of Children and Family Services’ ability to reach homeschooled children who are being educationally neglected,” said Coleman. “In the absence of any requirements outlining what it means to ‘lawfully’ homeschool a child, we worry that SB 250 would do more harm than good.”

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 Urge SC to Support Homeschoolers

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

Canton, Ma., 2/14/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging South Carolina lawmakers to view select homeschool support programs in other states as models for state support for homeschooled students. South Carolina lawmakers are considering S. 131 and H. 3202, which would provide curriculum grants funded by tax credits. “We recommend programs that offer students and parents more holistic support while also ensuring autonomy,” said Coleman. “Alaska’s district-run homeschool programs and Iowa’s Home School Assistance Programs are excellent examples of such support, and should be emulated.”

In Alaska, school districts run programs that enroll homeschooled children. Districts receive 90% of the students’ per-pupil allowance from the state; parents receive $2,000 per child in reimbursements for education expenses, and are assigned a teacher who helps answer questions and support students’ progress. Many of these programs also offer homeschool resource centers, where students can take enrichment classes. Iowa’s district-run programs operate similarly—they receive state funding, offer homeschooling parents access to homeschool resource centers, and grant homeschooled children access to public school programs, classes, and support services. Homeschooled students with disabilities have access to district resources; districts receive funding for the services they provide.

“When monetary support is provided directly to homeschooling families, it is imperative that expenditures be accounted for,” Coleman added. “We urge lawmakers to ensure that the scholarship program created by S. 131 and H. 3202 include steps to ensure funds are spent on appropriate expenses.” In Alaska, there are strict guidelines surrounding what expenses can and cannot be reimbursed. Lawmakers in some states have become concerned about abuse of other forms of direct-aid, such as adoption subsidies, which can incentivize parents to adopt older children or children with disabilities in order to receive the money.

“Unfortunately, not all parents have their children’s best interests at heart. Some parents use homeschooling to cover up parental neglect or avoid mandatory reporters,” said Coleman. “Monetary support provided directly to homeschoolers should be offered as reimbursement for approved educational expenses only.” According to CRHE, direct monetary support works best when it is part of a more comprehensive program, like those in Alaska, which maintain relationships with homeschooling families and provide long term accountability.

“Funding for homeschooling should come with basic academic accountability,” said Coleman. Most homeschooling families in South Carolina choose to homeschool through a homeschool association, which allows them to opt out of testing and other forms of accountability. In states like Alaska and Iowa, parents voluntarily opt in to programs that offer basic accountability while also providing parents with financial support and other resources. “Lawmakers should strive to create policies that provide homeschooled students with holistic forms of support.”

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.