By most measures, Mississippi has parent friendly homeschool regulations, only requiring parents to fill out an attendance form with their local school district. But the government doesn’t regulate curriculum, testing, or schedules.
Bills occasionally pop up in the legislature to mandate curriculum, as a bill from Rep. John Hines did this year, or to restrict various freedoms. There are also annual bills to lower the age of compulsory education. But for the most part there is a truce if you will. Tim Tebow bills to allow homeschoolers to participate in athletics or extracurricular activities of their local school districts (where you still pay taxes) never see the light of day, but fortunately, neither do the government mandates.
Today, about 15,000-20,000 students in Mississippi are homeschooled.
But we are seeing national movement from academic elites to rein in homeschooling freedom. Why? Because every child is currently being homeschooled as government schools throughout the country shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
What if just 10 percent of these families decided to continue homeschooling next year? It would represent a massive shift in the education landscape and result in fewer tax dollars going to the government schools that would be serving fewer students.
Though it was recently scrapped, Harvard University – where the attacks on homeschooling are originating – planned an anti-homeschooling conference for June that would focus on the “problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment” of homeschooling.
They claim child abuse or lack of a proper education as their concern and thesis, but the greater push is twofold: the belief that government controls every child and a bigotry toward people who are religious, the original reason many chose to homeschool.
Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet has called for a “presumptive ban on homeschooling” saying it violates a children’s right to “meaningful education.” That’s certainly debatable considering the percentage of American students in government schools who are proficient in reading and math (hint: it’s not many).
But she also argues that parents should get permission from the government to homeschool. Meaning, the burden of proof shifts to the parents and they have to make their case with the government on why they should be allowed to remove their children from government school. Essentially, you must beg the crown for this right. Your child is basically a product of the state in Bartholet’s view, and the view of many other elites. You are only allowed to do certain things. Everything else comes from the state.
That obviously isn’t true. And the Supreme Court even struck that argument a century ago.
The other part of the disdain from parents who want freedom for their children is because many of those parents do so for religious reasons. Many homeschooling families “are driven by conservative Christian beliefs” and “some of these parents are extreme religious ideologues.” One could argue that anyone who believes in God is an “extreme religious ideologue” in the mind of Bartholet. Or at least believes in God…and tries to follow His word.
The truth is for many, the ability to teach your children about the Bible isn’t the reason you homeschool, just another in a long line of reasons.
A child isn’t a creature of the state. Parents have the right to raise and educate their children as they seem fit. Homeschooling has long been, and will continue to be, looked at with disdain from elites. Fortunately, neither they, nor the government, control your child.
Mississippi Center for Public Policy will be hosting a livestream on the recent attacks on homeschooling on May 21 with Corey DeAngelis from Reason Foundation. Sign up today as space is limited.