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Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Home schools

October 18, 2000

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To the editor:

Two weeks ago, the Journal-World had a series of articles on homeschooling including an interview with our family. While it is apparent that a lot of work went into the articles, many of us in the homeschool community where quite unhappy with a pervasive "angle" in the articles which questions the legality of homeschooling and subtly puts forward the notion that homeschooling requires further regulation.

Most objectionable was the highlighting the extreme views of the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB). As we told the reporter, the KASB's views that homeschooling is illegal in Kansas, that it is bad public policy for the state to allow homeschooling to occur, and that homeschoolers should be routinely reported to SRS and county attorneys as truant, are not shared by the State Department of Education, the attorney general's office, or the SRS. As noted in the articles, the KASB's lack of credibility is evidenced by the fact that no school district in the state follows their advice to report homeschooled students as truant.

This "angle" is expressed in other ways: the opening line that our children don't look like outlaws (implying they are); the discussion of "simmering legislative gridlock" concerning homeschooling when there has been no effort to regulate homeschooling in many years; and the manufacturing of a "legal controversy" regarding homeschooling that has not existing in Kansas since thelate 1980s.

In the view of a few at the helm of the KASB, children are wards of the state cared for by families. They believe that only state-certified teachers using state-approved curriculum should teach children of the state. Fortunately, this is not the law in our state and nation. In all 50 states, parents are allowed to take the responsibility to direct the education of their children. In our state, unaccredited private schools, including homeschools are not heavily regulated.

This public policy is based on the principle that parents who take responsibility for the education of their children without state assistance, will take this responsibility seriously and do it adequately. History has demonstrated that this policy works. Government's limited funds for education should not be used to create new bureaucracies to track and manage these students.

David and Cathy Barfield,

Lawrence.

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