Nannystate Bill Tries to Invade Homeschooling

A bill that is the essence of nannystatism is trying to interfere with Maryland’s homeschoolers.

House Bill 1798 is titled “County Boards of Education – Home Instruction Program – Observation of Instruction and Reporting of Abuse and Neglect.” The synopsis reads:

Requiring the parent or guardian of a certain student to submit certain information to the county board of education before the student begins a home instruction program; requiring the parent or guardian of a student in a home instruction program to allow a representative of the county board to observe instruction of the home instruction program; requiring a representative of a county board to notify certain agencies if the representative has reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect; etc.

Basically what the bill does is put homeschooling instruction under the auspices of the county Board of Education. It would force you, if you are a homeschooler, to open up your home on demand and be judged by a government official as to how good of a job you are doing in instructing your own child. The bill basically treats every parent that homeschools their child with some sort of suspicion and it relies on parents to prove their own innocence to have the right to homeschool. And it would also provide additional opportunities for the state to interfere with the instruction that homeschooled kids receive, which is often religious-based education that students would never receive in public schools.

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If this sounds to you like it would be something that would be the dream of the Maryland State Education Association, to force homeschoolers to stop homeschooling and to force them to send their kids to public school, you would be right. We’re sure the MSEA would rather Maryland be like other places that ban homeschooling, like Cuba and North Korea.

The Maryland Homeschool Association reached out to the lead sponsor of the bill, Delegate Frank Turner, to discuss this bill and determine why it was introduced. Unsurprisingly it was staff that returned their call and the only explanation they received was “recent news about homeschoolers.”

It won’t surprise you to know that the concerns that Turner’s draconian bill deals with are mostly dealt with in other sections of law. Here are the talking points the Maryland Homeschool Association is sharing with its members regarding the bill:

  1. Mandatory Reporters. As licensed educators, homeschool liaisons are already required to report suspicision of neglect or abuse to the proper authorities, should that occur during a homeschool review conducted at a local library or other mutually agreeable location. If the state is going to begin mandating pre-emptive home visits in an effort to ensure that no child is being abused, then this bill should be amended to include children who attend private schools. Read more about mandatory reporting requirements for child abuse in Maryland.
  2. Duplication of EffortCOMAR 13A.10.01.E already allows county school boards the option to “observe instruction” of homeschool families. One of the key differences between the existing homeschool regulation and the proposed bill is the location of where the observation would take place. COMAR states that the review and/or observation be “at a time and place mutually agreeable to the representative of the local school system and the parent or guardian”. The proposed bill would require the observation to take place at the primary location where the family homeschools.
  3. Cost Prohibitive. Requiring county homeschool liaisons to drive and make home visits to thousands of families, twice a year, will create a significant financial burden for cash-strapped school boards.
  4. No Evidence. No scientific study or statistical evidence exists to demonstrate a link between homeschooling and child abuse. Simply put: Homeschool children are not at greater risk for abuse than children who are educated by other means.
  5. Violation of the 4th AmendmentRead the letter that HSLDA sent to Delegate Turner explaining their opinion of how the current bill would create an unconstitutional mandate when no probable cause exists to enter a person’s home.

This bill is ridiculous and, as the MHA notes, is a costly and unconstitutional mandate on homeschoolers. The bill should be kicked to the ash heap of history. Homeschoolers, who are already taking on the herculean task of being educators and parents at the same time, don’t need more nonsense interfering with their ability to provide meaningful instruction to their children.

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