In the United States, homeschooling is an uncontrollable atmosphere

“The homeschooling lobby may be more powerful than the gun lobby today, because at least the gun lobby is meeting strong resistance”said bitterly lawyer Elizabeth Bartholet in the Harvard Gazette in 2020. It may seem strange to compare the upbringing of American children by their families to the devastation wrought by the National Rifle Association (NRA). However, more and more former pupils warn against the excesses of home schooling.

The latter are in large part due to the lack of oversight of homeschooling in many states. Only twenty-four out of fifty across the country require parents to complete assessments to ensure children are making satisfactory progress. Two of them allow parents to negate this obligation by establishing themselves as a private school, and six do not require them to disclose the results, nor do they set a minimum grade to be achieved.

In 11 states, such as Texas or Alaska, parents aren’t even required to report their decision and can just pick their child up from school without notifying anyone. As far as some high schools report that truant students have chosen to homeschool, to improve the institution’s pass rate in the respective degree. By way of comparison, in France a family wishing to home-school must obtain prior approval and progress is checked annually by the rectorate.

Sometimes dramatic deviations

In the absence of control, it is impossible to intervene if a child does not receive an appropriate education. System reform activists point out that this gives rise to many instances of educational neglect. “Some parents decide that their child does not need an education. This often happens, especially in children assigned to girls. If their parents decide that they will mainly be wives and mothers who do not need to be able to count, they will not teach them this trade.To explain Chelsea McCracken, PhD in Humanities and Research Director at the Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling (CRHE).

This association collects testimonials from former students who have been homeschooled and campaigns for better regulation of this practice. The case of girls’ educational neglect is particularly striking among the many evangelical Christians who turn to home schooling to protect their children from the supposedly harmful influences of public school.

“Sometimes it takes on less conscious forms. When parents have many children, they raise as a family and do not have time to care for each individually. Sometimes they give the child a manual and just say, “Learn this.” It may work for some, but not for everyone., says Chelsea McCracken. Another case, that of parents forcing the eldest to assume the role of teacher for his younger brothers, “which harms both their education and his”. “And if there’s a disability that the parent doesn’t see or doesn’t want to see, it’s even harder.”

In the long run, educational neglect can become a real problem in adulthood.

The researcher also points out that it is impossible to have a clear idea of ​​the magnitude of the problem, because in many states parents are not required to report, there are no statistics on the matter. . However, she estimates that homeschooling affects between 4% and 6% of children in the United States.

Sometimes the isolation of these children and the fact that they pass under the radar of the administration can camouflage very serious situations of abuse. “We’re seeing cases of extreme abuse in homeschooling, and they seem to have different characteristics than those seen in school-aged children. We don’t know exactly how common this condition is, but we suspect it’s more common than in the general population.”regrets Chelsea McCracken.

In the long run, educational neglect can become a real problem in adulthood. As the researcher explains, this can seriously hamper access to work. “Parents who neglect their child are less likely to give them report cards and diplomas [ce qui serait le processus normal dans l’instruction en famille, mais que certaines familles ne font pas, ndlr], making it difficult to find a job. You can’t go to college so you live in your car and it’s very hard to get by. You have to start your primary education all over again as an adult, but what do you do to survive during that time?” As for those who have degrees and manage to enroll in university, they often fail for lack of solid foundation.

Effective lobbying

If the situation doesn’t change despite the scandals, it’s because of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)’s opposition to all reform attempts. The CRHSE has seen this several times: “They are using their usual, highly effective method of activating a large network of parents to ask them to drown lawmakers in angry calls. They often flock to their office, screaming in anger. Most politicians don’t expect that when they propose a law that they think is reasonable, requiring you to fill out a form once a year to report that your child is homeschooling.

“Children are not property that parents can do with whatever they want.”

Chelsea McCracken, PhD in Humanities

Current legislation, created in the 1980s and 1990s, partly under the influence of evangelical movements, constitutionally guarantees the right of parents to raise their children the way they want. But as Elizabeth Bartholet points out, she… “in return does not guarantee that children have the right to appropriate parenting and school education”. The lawyer even goes so far as to speak “absolutism of parental rights”.

In spite of everything, the CRHE continues to fight to make the voices of ex-“homeschoolers” heard. According to them, homeschooling can be an opportunity for children if practiced responsibly, but must be supervised to prevent abuse.

“We are campaigning for legal oversight that would prevent children in need from falling through the cracks, but that would not go beyond what responsible parents are already doing”a mandatory state report and assessment of the child’s academic progress and well-being each year, explains Chelsea McCracken. “It’s the minimum, even if we could go further. Children are not property that parents can do as they please, children are people.”

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