ForumTouchy Subjects ► Homeschooling Regulation
The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled against a German couple whose children were confiscated for three weeks because the couple were homeschooling their children, against the law.
From sauce:
In a unanimous decision, however, the court found that there was “relevant and sufficient reasons for the withdrawal of some parts of the parents’ authority, and the temporary removal of the children from their family home.”
Do parents have the moral right to homeschool their children? How much power should the state have in regulating homeschooling?

Discuss. (∩`-´)⊃━☆゚.*・。゚
  
Personally : I think parents have the right to school their children, so long as their children are mentally kept up to government education standards. (I.E. Quarterly tests administered by government officials to ensure that the children are being taught correctly)

Devil's Advocate : The parents might pamper or slow down their child's learning by avoiding units that they dislike and slowing down for them, rather than barreling on as most school courses may do - this could inevitably lead to a child being unprepared for a college environment (provided they get that far), and disrupts their ability to learn and to pick up knowledge at an acceptable rate.
  
This is such a tiring argument and topic that typically comes up from religious libertarians.

Children here are in school only until lunch. Then they are free for after school activities, additional schooling, or go home where the parents can continue their “home-education”, if religious education is what the parents want.

Parents who want to take their children out of schools are usually religious or political fanatics or possibly cultists here, and fanaticism — religious or political— is very frowned upon here in Germany, especially when children — who are highly protected here — are involved.

This topic is often very blown out of proportion and it bewilders me how people argue for allowing any parent(s) to educate their children and possibly deprive the children of opportunities later in life, or lead them down a very dangerous path.
  
This is an example of an all-too-prevalant argument where rights are asserted without consideration of the corresponding responsibilities. In opting out of the education system the parents have a responsibility to provide a suitable alternative. When they fail to do so, steps are taken to ensure that the children get what they are entitled to.

Children are not their parents property, they are a responsibility, and when the parents fail to discharge that responsibility, the community can and should step in. Denying them adequate education is child abuse.

I can entertain arguments about exactly what is adequate and how that should be assessed, but the basic principle seems clear. Children deserve to know the truth about the world they will be living in.
  
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Homeschooling can be a superior option to public schooling in some cases. Some kids with learning disabilities can really benefit from focused, one-on-one teaching, which schools can't always provide. If the parents can better accommodate their children than the public can, I don't see why they shouldn't be able to (if they can prove their kid is passing the benchmarks).
And then there are children with compromised immune systems or other illnesses that prevent them from regularly interacting with the public. Public school could pose a significant health risk to them.
In an ideal world, we'd be able to provide accommodations for everyone via a publicly funded and directed system. As things are right now, sometimes homeschooling is the best option.

I do agree that a large benefit from public schools is the socialization aspect. Social skills are as much learned as history or math. Homeschooled kids can definitely be held back in life in that regard. It goes beyond not wearing 'cool' clothes or knowing slang. I've worked with kids who really struggle socializing and making personal connections because their social circles have been restricted.
  
I largely agree with Coldfrost, but to reply to some specific points...
It's really a question of whether morality is objective or subjective.
Not to open a can of worms, for those who disbelieve in rights I'll reformulate the original question as "what laws would you want in your society with regard to homeschooling".
This is such a tiring argument and topic that typically comes up from religious libertarians.
Ad hominem.
parents can continue their “home-education”, if religious education is what the parents want.
I'm sympathetic to this argument, but children have a limited amount of time. If a parent believes the state-operated school is providing an inferior education to that which they could provide, it seems like a waste of time to double-up on the child's education.
fanaticism — religious or political— is very frowned upon here in Germany, especially when children — who are highly protected here — are involved.
If you're implying that part of the goal of banning homeschooling is to limit how much parents can indoctrinate their own children, then I think that's a clear violation of parental autonomy and religious liberty. I don't think governments should have priority over the family with regard to values or religious practices.
This topic is often very blown out of proportion
I think that's easy to say if you are against homeschooling in a country where it's illegal, but for parents who want to homeschool and legally cannot, I don't see how they're blowing the issue out of proportion.
and it bewilders me how people argue for allowing any parent(s) to educate their children and possibly deprive the children of opportunities later in life
There is evidence that homeschoolers have better standardized test scores on average vs. public schoolers.
DIAV said:
In opting out of the education system the parents have a responsibility to provide a suitable alternative. When they fail to do so, steps are taken to ensure that the children get what they are entitled to.
In Germany in particular, this is apparently not the case. Not only are parents presumed to be unfit to educate their children, but in fact there is no system in place for parents to demonstrate their competence. It's one thing to argue that homeschooling is a right that comes with responsibilities; it's another to say (as does Germany) that parents should never be allowed to homeschool, under any conditions.
DIAV said:
I can entertain arguments about exactly what is adequate and how that should be assessed
Is state testing sufficient?

My overall stance, similar to others' here, is that parents should be allowed to educate their children however they want as long as they are getting results. I think Germany and other states with a blanket ban on homeschooling are overstepping their regulatory bounds.
  
In Germany in particular, this is apparently not the case. Not only are parents presumed to be unfit to educate their children, but in fact there is no system in place for parents to demonstrate their competence. It's one thing to argue that homeschooling is a right that comes with responsibilities; it's another to say (as does Germany) that parents should never be allowed to homeschool, under any conditions.



Not quite.

It is compulsory for children to attend school. There is no law against parents providing additional education, religious or otherwise.
  
Semantics. Obviously when people say "homeschooling is banned in Germany" they don't mean that additional schooling is banned. (How would you even enforce that without 100% surveillance?)
  
I'm sympathetic to this argument, but children have a limited amount of time. If a parent believes the state-operated school is providing an inferior education to that which they could provide, it seems like a waste of time to double-up on the child's education.

Children only have school until noon here in Germany. If they think state operated schools perform poorly, there are private schools in Germany.

If you're implying that part of the goal of banning homeschooling is to limit how much parents can indoctrinate their own children, then I think that's a clear violation of parental autonomy and religious liberty. I don't think governments should have priority over the family with regard to values or religious practices.

Just as governments regulate what parents can do physically to their children, so should they regulate what parents can do mentally to their children. Indoctrination can be abuse. Children are not property that should be freely handled as seen fit.

I think that's easy to say if you are against homeschooling in a country where it's illegal, but for parents who want to homeschool and legally cannot, I don't see how they're blowing the issue out of proportion.

Because there is no reason to homeschool when the standards and quality are high and alternative options are given.

There is evidence that homeschoolers have better standardized test scores on average vs. public schoolers.

Based on a study on U.S. American children in an underfunded, low quality education system. And what about compared to private schools? You can’t apply a study of a system to another system that is so different. If private schools in Germany provide such a higher quality education as homeschooling does in the U.S., then is homeschooling necessary for the purpose of providing better education? No.

I think your understanding and experience of the German school system is lacking. Maybe homeschooling is better in other places because public education is so poor, but the system here is pretty good on average and focuses on setting up children for the work force by providing opportunities during and after school age that parents would not otherwise be able to provide. And when that is not enough, Nachhilfe (personal additional schooling (remember, kids here only have school until noon)) and other private or state regulated religious institutions are offered.
  
So as an American student, I saw three things happen in the homeschooling system.

First was my own experience. I had to have major surgery in my high school years. This surgery meant that after I was discharged from the hospital, I would have to have constant access to supplies for a few months. So, my parents set me up with a homeschooling program that was already in partnership with public schools. Funny enough, my surgery never happened, but I'd be entered into the program anyways. The program had me going into a classroom every other week to check on my work and assign me new work, but I'd be mainly on my own. The problem was that I was at home and I didn't have very good self-discipline and good study habits. The only ever time I'd do my work was during the weekdays for an hour or two, and I'd only ever focus on the science section with little regards to my other subjects. Otherwise, I'd be off watching TV or out with my friends after they got back from school. I was never disciplined by the school even though I was going in every other week for a couple of hours. Thankfully, this only lasted a semester for me and I was back in school the following spring.

My second experience comes from an ex of mine. Her sister was "homeschooled" after the fifth grade. I use the term "homeschooled" very loosely because she never touched school work again. My ex's parents were very neglectful people and didn't care about their children, they just cared about EverQuest. So, other than a few times she tried going back to school, she didn't advance at all. Nobody punished her parents and nobody did anything to encourage her. With my ex's sister, she had a severe fear of math. She felt like she was not good at math, so she developed anxiety around school and her abilities. Her family did nothing to help these fears (they didn't even notice them) and the school system dropped her like a lead pipe.

My final experience with homeschooling comes from a religious old/ex-friend. She was homeschooled in a religious household. This household was part of what can be easily described as a Christian cult. All she ever learned was the bible and pure misinformation about science, math, history, and so on. Finally wanting to be with her friends outside of the church, she begged her parents to go back into public school. They obliged her request and sent her to high school. She was in my health and biology classes and I watched her struggle massively. It seemed that the only thing that she was good at was proselytizing for her cult (and she did so very well).

As far as things go, my religious ex-friend is a stay at home mother that just lives off of her husband's support and pops off kids left and right (the Christian thing to do, right?). After high school, she never had a real job, only working a few no-skill hand me down jobs from church friends like janitorial work. As for my ex's sister, I don't know what she is doing 9 years later, but at 24 years old she was bouncing from boyfriend to boyfriend to boyfriend and had never worked a single job. And, as a fun little side note for myself, not only did the school lose the grades for the semester I was in the homeschooling program, but they also lost the semester of grades before that. Ahhh, the American school system. God bless it.
  
@TheDave: The negative outcomes of all three of your anecdotes could have been mitigated by state testing.
Children only have school until noon here in Germany. If they think state operated schools perform poorly, there are private schools in Germany.
Why are private schools okay but homeschools not?
Just as governments regulate what parents can do physically to their children, so should they regulate what parents can do mentally to their children. Indoctrination can be abuse.
If the government is going to impose a restriction on liberty, the onus is on them to demonstrate why that restriction is necessary to prevent harm. I don't believe the German government has sufficient evidence that homeschooling per se amounts to psychological abuse or that it poses an unjustifiably high risk of abuse.
Because there is no reason to homeschool when the standards and quality are high and alternative options are given.
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
Based on a study on U.S. American children in an underfunded, low quality education system.
You seem to be acknowledging that money/resources spent can correlate with the quality of education. Then it should follow that if a parent who is good at teaching is willing to put it more resources towards their child's education than the state is, there's a good chance they will get better outcomes. Even if German schools are well-supported doesn't mean they're optimally supported. And again, I don't see why you'd draw a sharp line between private schools and homeschools.
I think your understanding and experience of the German school system is lacking.
I'm sure it is, but that's immaterial to my argument.
  
Actually, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I live in Washington state and every student here needs to take the WASL, including homeschooled students. My ex's sister never took that test, and like I said previously, her parents were never punished for it. She slipped right through the crack and got out of everything.

I was so envious that she didn't have to take that test since it was a shit-show. Also, this was before the test became a requirement for graduation.
  
If she was never required to take the test and there were no repercussions / she was allowed to continue being homeschooled, then that's not what I'm advocating. Obviously there has to be enforcement.
  
It was illegal for her to not take the WASL. Now, you're going to end up running down to the problem of "who's watching the watchers." Nobody was watching those that would enforce the requirements of the test on her. And who is going to watch those enforcers, and who will watch those enforcer enforcers, and so on.

I have a severe hatred for standardized testing or any student/teacher evaluation testing. Like I said, the WASL became a requirement for graduation. What was once an evaluation on how the teachers and students were doing, and how tax money was being spent, later became a weapon to use against the students themselves. Their whole futures depended on that test. And you know what happened the year the graduation requirement went live? The math portion of the test was far too difficult for even the above average students and most failed it, meaning many sophomore students had to retake the test the following year and pay the $200 fee, and the math requirement was removed for the following years. Lastly, not only did the requirement become a weapon against the students, but it also became a destructive tool in the classroom. Classrooms shifted from being expansive in their subject matter to being that of "teach the test." This is something I saw in my own educative years. I learned less about human development, history, science, and mathematics, to more about what was on the test and having that subject repeated for weeks at a time. I believe this is what greatly stunted my own growth through my teens and mid-twenties until college.

Now, with homeschooling, what I believe could work is the hybrid classroom that I took. Although it did not pan out well for me, it forced me back into the public education system when I did fail it. If the homeschooled student has to show up to a classroom once a week, every other week, or month for a few hours in order to check their progress on assigned subjects by that program, then you will get that oversight along with the fulfilled standards of education while the student and parents do their own independent work. If the student can not keep up with what is required by their district/state, then they obviously need to be introduced back into the public system so that the student can be monitored closer and, hopefully, taught better study habits.
  
You seem to be advocating both against standardized testing and for even more standardized testing at the same time.
  
I am against standardized test. for a test that can determine futures its not a good method of doing so. It grades you on how well you are a talking test, not if you know the information or problem solving. you also have stupid time limits on it that make it so its not only testing you on how well you can take a test, but how well you can do it with only a minute for each problem. Bubbling in a multiple choice test shouldn't have the power to determine your future. Yet in the school system that exactly what it does. In my opinion these test are to cruel to be used and should be abandon. Don't just take my word for it, take Fredrick J Kelly word who invented standardized test who said, "These test are too cruel to be used and should be abandon." There are many many things that I don't like about the school system (The US School System) and this is one of them
  
No I'm not(?)

I'm against standardized testing %1000. I was saying that rather than using a standardized test to monitor the homeschool students, we switch them to a "hybrid" type of homeschooling. They are assigned work to do for the following week(s) and bring it back every week/other week/month to turn it in. The assigned work would be from the same books and resources that the public school children are doing. This gives the student the opportunity for independent studying while also still keeping an eye on their learning and future education goals. If they can not complete their required work for a span of time, then they can be placed back into public education in order to catch back up with everyone.

Hopefully this clears that up.
  
"Keeping an eye on their learning" is just a different (and far more extensive/invasive) form of standardized testing IMO.
  
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Every complaint I have heard about standardized testing amounts to "I'm stupid, and I don't think it's fair that my future is impacted by my stupidity". You know, we don't need a piece of paper to make your life suck if you're stupid, it'll happen automatically. All we're doing is documenting the shit.

I guess the teacher's complaints are a bit more complicated, but once again, it boils down to "I'm stupid" - for instance "I suck as a teacher, and it's not fair that my pay is linked to my performance as a teacher!" Yes. Yes it is fair. You signed the damn contract.

Everyone here seems to think there's some natural right that humans have to things. Nope. You have no natural rights. Now you've got some rights that societies have *called* natural, but calling something a word doesn't make it so. Shakespeare's got my back on this one, lol.

You have the rights afforded to you by the powers that afford them, because the powers have afforded them to you. Don't like it? Well, you better have more power than the power that is affording you liberties - because guess what, if a group of people have guns to your head, they are in charge. They set the rules.

Now along the way we realized that we can put guns to their head too, but I mean, it's still a matter of a group holding guns to the heads of another group. That's the crux of our justice - it's 'fucking do it or i'll spank you'. That's pretty much it.

So, I mean, yeah, if a bunch of people with guns are saying "do this with your kids or we spank you", well, do that shit with your kids or get spanked man, but don't try acting like the slap you got was somehow a fucking conspiracy against mankind. I swear to god, too many people get their ideas about morality and governance from movies and TV.


But thats not the case for standardized test. In my book that I bought to study for the ACT it says "Your goal is to get as many points as possible, not to demonstrate how great you are at any particular math area, or show all your work, or get all the "hard" questions - Just to get points, plain and simple." This is a book I bought directly from the people doing the ACT. They literally say its not about knowing how to do it but getting the points. That should not be how it works. Just taking in as much information as you can only to throw it all up on the test isn't learning, its bolimea. That should not be how we take test that can determine out future.

Country like Sweden got rid of standardized test, made school day shorter and give teachers a decent wage. There school system after they did that out preforms every other country. I have heard teachers, I have even heard principles say that testing doesn't test on learning. If that is the case then why to we put so much pressure on students to do well on the test if they only work for some students. We shouldn't treat every kid the same in the school system. If a doctor was to prescribe the same medicine to all his patents the results would be tragic, so many would get sick and yet in the school system thats exactly what we do, this educational malpractice
  
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I have to say one valid claim against state testing and standardized testing is that they clash sometimes.
I mean, we have the ACT, we have the SAT, we have the SAT subject tests and the AP tests, and we have the PACT and PSAT. Add on whatever state testing you have going on, and that's a lot of time spent studying or in some testing center that could be spent doing other stuff, like (gasp) learning.
Not that standardized tests aren't essential, but why can't they be better managed? For example, my school uses the SBAC to ensure students are ready to graduate. If you don't meet the SBAC requirement, they'll accept certain ACT scores as well. It would save everyone time if we just used the ACT, and it's a lot simpler to administer or retake than the SBAC. And it definitely costs less than $200 to retake.
It just seems like state testing isn't necessary when we have these college readiness tests students are taking anyway.
  
All of this has been about testing, religious rights, and the quality of education. Why has no one pointed out that homeschooling hinders people’s ability to interact with people outside their own demographic or have similarities? You can be one of those asshole kids in a public school who only looks at a computer or a book and never talks to anyone, but at least you’re around other kids who say can’t afford a computer or just don’t enjoy reading. That way you’re free to make mistakes without parental supervision too - you know, big mistakes that won’t actually affect the rest of your adult life. Go get called a bitch or a fag, it builds character. For real. I now have ways to react to people calling me a fag that doesn’t involve me becoming sad at all and doesn’t involve any hostility. Sure I hated getting called a fag as a kid, but I’m better equipt to handle people being assholes than someone whose parents put a bubble around them. I’m not convinced that people in the US who choose to homeschool their children (and I’d put people who send their kids to private school) aren’t just afraid of black people or poor people. If it’s the big bad American government getting into your rights that you’re afraid of, fuck it, your kid’s fucked from birth because of you.

I’m just very surprised that no one has thought to bring anything like this up. There’s more to going to school than making grades and doing well on standardized tests and getting into college. I know the point of this thread is about how much power the government should have in regulating homeschooling, but really? No one has stopped to point out problems with homeschooling as a whole? The religious stuff; people get forced to do stuff outside of their religions all the time, what makes you so important that you can’t stand your kids hearing things that you don’t agree with? Your kids are going to eat and say things you don’t like. Your kids are going to hear things you think are innapropriate. Your kid may end up going to school that has bad educators, sucks, but it happens. People who homeschool their kids... they’d rather shield their child from all of that then throw them into real life without any ability to defend themselves emotionally?
  
I'll start considering public education as an option again when I stop hearing every week how shit all the schools are because no budget, teachers having to buy classroom supplies themselves, every other country making fun of U.S. schools, etc.
  
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