TEACH CT - The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers

Q & A Homeschooling in Connecticut

Why do people homeschool? How do they homeschool? Are they socialized?

Homeschoolers are a diverse group of people committed to offering the most effective method of instruction: one-to-one interaction. This was the primary method of instruction in Connecticut since its founding, and was recognized in the Connecticut Code of 1650. Parents choose to homeschool today for a variety of reasons, including imparting a world-view, offering individualized instruction that is best suited to their student(s), and protecting students from the turmoil and dangers in the public schools. Methods of instruction are as varied as the families who homeschool. They include packaged curriculum, eclectic style and interest driven learning. Connecticut’s homeschool community offers a wide variety of opportunities for socialization, including co-ops, meet-ups, playgroups, scouting, and field trips.

How do we know that children are safe from abuse and neglect?

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that abuse and neglect happen everywhere. It’s also an unfortunate fact of life that if a parent wants to hide a child away, he or she will find a way to do so regardless of any regulations put in place. There are laws in place to punish those who harm children, but no law can prevent abuse before it happens while still protecting the individual liberties granted by our constitution. The majority of homeschool students are seen in the community by people such as pediatricians, child care providers and church workers. There are many homeschool parents who are mandatory reporters. They are also seen by neighbors, friends and extended family. Anyone can make a phone call to report suspected abuse and neglect.

Research shows no relationship between the degree of regulation of homeschooling and the frequency of homeschool abuse. [1] In fact, homeschool students are 40% less likely to die by child abuse and neglect than the average student nationally. [2] Pennsylvania has discovered that increasing paperwork hampered the ability of child protective services to do their job. [3] Abuse is not a homeschooling issue. Strict adherence to the current child protective services guidelines are the best way to safeguard children against abuse and neglect, and those guidelines and laws apply to all families in our state. [4]

How do we know that homeschoolers are being properly educated?

The vast majority of homeschooling parents work daily to ensure their children’s educational needs are met. Resources to help in this journey are abundant and accessible. Studies show homeschooled students outperform publicly schooled children in nearly every measurable respect. [5] Even the best teacher will not love or support a child more than his or her own parent will.

Furthermore, we live in a nation that presumes the innocence of people. That includes all people. If there is suspicion that someone is not innocent, laws are in place that enable authorities to appropriately respond to any and all allegations - regardless of where and how a child is being educated. Again, this is not a homeschooling issue. How do we know children in public and private schools are being educated properly? It is well known that many of them are failing or are functionally illiterate, despite IEP’s, testing and a myriad of interventions. [6]

 

Don’t other states require more oversight of homeschool children? Isn’t Connecticut an outlier as a low regulation state? Nearby states such as Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts spend more money on regulating homeschooling, but that regulation has not increased performance. [7] Since 1984, as homeschoolers have proven themselves academically and civically, the trend has been towards deregulation. In 1984, there were 23 states with high regulation, and one state did not allow homeschooling. In 2018, there are 5 states remaining with high regulation. Those states that still cling to high regulation are the outliers. [8]

How does the state know that homeschooled children are not being abused or educationally neglected when they have no oversight? No one sees all children all the time. Abuse and neglect is not a homeschool issue. Homeschool parents tell us about years of abuse they experienced while in the public school setting that went undetected, unreported or unaddressed. Additional oversight has not protected public school students from abuse. The highest incidence of child fatalities occurs before school age, from birth to three years of age[9]… but no one is suggesting that every parent be required to report to the state or open their home to inspection in order to protect those children.

In the case of Matthew Tirado, DCF was aware of abuse and neglect in the home for years, but failed to follow through. It asked the court to close the neglect petition on Matthew two months before his death, complaining that the mother would not “allow” them to see Matthew. In fact, DCF could have asked for a welfare check, and the court could have issued a criminal charge of contempt for his mother and had her arrested after five failures to appear, but it did not. These are only two of a long list of actions that could have been taken to prevent Matthew’s death. The withdrawal of Matthew’s sister to homeschool, given the mother’s history was a red flag that should have been noted by Hartford Public Schools to DCF, and noticed by the case worker if that person had been doing due diligence. EXISTING LAW AND GUIDELINES provide the authority that was necessary to follow through on Tirado. The withdrawal of Matthew’s sister and a filing of a Notice of Intent to homeschool did not stop the clock or tie the hands of agencies charged with protecting her from abuse. Why give a failed system more power over a group of people like homeschoolers? The problems in DCF, the public schools and the juvenile justice system are ongoing and must be addressed. No amount of regulations on homeschooling families will correct these systemic failures, despite costing thousands or possibly millions of taxpayer dollars to implement.


[1] https://www.nheri.org/degree-of-homeschool-regulation-no-relationship-to-homeschool-child-abuse/

[2] http://thehomeschooleffect.com/child-fatalities-regulation.html

[3] http://www.paauditor.gov/press-releases/auditor-general-depasquale-says-state-of-the-child-special-report-shows-broken-child-welfare-system-broken-puts-children-at-risk

[4] https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cecanf-final-report

[5] See, e.g., https://www.nheri.org/homeschool-sat-scores-for-2014-higher-than-national-average/. See also https://www.nheri.org/academic-achievement-and-demographic-traits-of-homeschool-students-a-nationwide-study-2010/

[6] https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/. Fifty percent of seniors at proficiency level in reading. Thirty two per cent of seniors at proficiency level in math.

[7] https://www.nheri.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Ray-2010-Academic-Achievement-and-Demographic-Traits-of-Homeschool-Students.pdf

[8] https://hslda.org/content/laws/

[9] http://thehomeschooleffect.com/