Apr 4, 2024 - News

Home-schoolers push back

Illustration of a welcome mat with the word "school" written on the front

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Home-schooling parents are speaking out against the possibility that Michigan may one day require them to register with the state.

Why it matters: The debate over a potential state registry of home-schooled families has inflamed fears among home-schooling parents that their freedom to educate their kids at home might eventually be taken away, Chalkbeat Detroit reports.

Case in point: A group of home-schooling parents and community members began shouting at lawmakers as a House Education Committee meeting in Sterling Heights ended last month.

  • "Coward," they yelled repeatedly at committee members.

The big picture: No one knows the number of children being home-schooled in Michigan, as families are not required to notify the state or their school district.

  • "After the pandemic, we lost a lot of students. We don't know where they ended up. Did they go to private school, parochial school? Did they begin home schooling? It's important for us to know that children are in fact being educated," said State Rep. Matt Koleszar, a Democrat from Plymouth and chair of the education committee.

State of play: A few high-profile cases of home-schooled children who were abused or killed by their parents, and whose parents were not educating them even though they claimed to be, have spurred conversations about mandatory notification.

By the numbers: Michigan has a voluntary home-schooling registration system. The state Department of Education says 555 home schools registered for the 2023-24 school year, including 821 students.

  • The count is likely a small fraction of the actual number of home-schooled students, which is around 50,000 by some estimates.

Flashback: The number of home-schooled children has grown dramatically since a state rule change in the 1990s that allowed parents to educate their kids even if they're not teachers. Then the pandemic drove even more interest.

  • Michigan's rules — considered friendly to home schooling — address subjects that need to be studied. But they don't require standardized testing or record-keeping.

What they're saying: "Thousands of families have actually moved to Michigan for the purpose of home schooling, and we're seeing many of those families now say that if laws are passed to provide needless regulations to their families, that they will move to other states that do not have those requirements," says Israel Wayne, vice president of the Michigan Christian Homeschool Network.

Read the full Chalkbeat story: Michigan home-schooling families push back against talk of a required registry

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