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I’m a Liberal, and a Democrat. Even I Know Regulations Won’t Fix Homeschooling

22 December 2009 7 Comments

729161_ouchThis is my response to the Philosophy and Public Policy quarterly piece on homeschooling regulations by Robin West. There are many things to talk about. I chose one - why homeschool regulation using tests, measurement, and visits don’t make logical sense.


I’m a secular homeschooler. I really prefer logic and evidence as proof of things. And I have yet to see the logic or proof that homeschool regulation “works”. There are many examples of regulation that already exist, and it has not yet been shown that regulations reduce abuse or deal with any of the other assertions in the PPP article.

Homeschooling is on the rise. But it’s not because of abusive parents wanting to hide things, or because of an anti-immunization frenzy. The rise is caused by the school system pushing out families who really want to do the best for their kids, but cannot accomplish it. And most of the families who are deserting the schools have been pushed a lot before they finally get pushed over the edge. This has been slowly building up over the past 5 - 10 years and it’s not getting better. Because this is becoming so obvious, parents with very young children consider homeschooling as a tenable education option years before it’s time to make a decision about formal school. (This is also a significant part of why we’re seeing a rise in non-religious based homeschooling, and why 70-80% of the population of our California homeschool how-to seminars are populated by parents with children under 4 and parents who just pulled their child out of school, or are thinking about it.)

I think research into why parents leave school would be very revealing. When I field calls from families wanting to know how to homeschool, they share stories not only of various forms of physical and psychological abuse, but abuse of authority and lack of schools seeing their kids for who they are. Instead, it’s a race to see which kids can fit into the mold of what is expected of them and the parents and the kids can no longer hold out in the rat race.

The increase of regulations, testing, mandates, and benchmarks hasn’t made schools better. These top-down efforts haven’t fixed problems of meeting individual children’s needs. It certainly hasn’t helped many kids in the most need of help. If these fixes don’t help school, how can they ever help homeschoolers? Why insist on a solution that has not shown to consistently work? And that’s just for student achievement. That’s not counting all of the failed attempts to keep abusive teachers out of the system, abusing and molesting children right under the noses of all of the regulations and watchful eyes of everyone in school. It just doesn’t add up. There is a huge missing piece of logic of how the system, which can’t even keep these abusive teachers out of schools, can possibly do a fair and adequate job of finding the bad homeschool apples without an enormous burden on the 99.9% of the other homeschooling parents.

Homeschooling is not perfect. But regulation is not the answer. I have my suspicions of what the answer is, but it’s not government regulation on testing results or benchmarks. If that worked, failing schools would be very easy to identify and fix. And we’d very rarely see problems with teachers not doing their job, or worse, harming students.

It’s my hope that Robin West is on a true search for helping children and our society. If so, then we can move on beyond the tired old conversation of left vs. right and rethink education entirely, and get away from measuring and educating-by-numbers schooling. Instead, we all need to work towards finding a way to educate our children in the true sense of the word, so they can live full lives and make our American society a better place one child at a time.

Related posts:

  1. Homeschooling Regulations Do Not Affect Quality of Education, Study Says
  2. Homeschool Regulations and the Importance of Local Cohesion
  3. A Liberal Education?
  4. Teen Doesn’t Like Homeschooling
  5. Freedom vs. Controlled Dissonance?


  • Larry said:

    I am baffled by this. How can you see so clearly how left wing liberal government regulations (or right wing ones) don’t work in the schools or for homeschoolers and yet still think it can work in every other area of life? It doesn’t work for businesses, and it certainly doesn’t work when it comes to the war on some drugs. Come over to the dark side, join the (small “l”) libertarians and oppose tyranny EVERYWHERE and not just in your small area of interest.

  • Tammy (author) said:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m on the fence about most other regulations on businesses, drugs, etc. mostly because I don’t understand the issues fully. I have my opinions, but without solid evidence or experience, I would be speaking from emotion and what I want to be true rather than what I know to be true. One thing I do know is that things look much different from the trenches, and I’m only in the homeschooling/education trench at the moment.

    As for school regulations, I actually think that the regulations that schools have should not be completely removed. In fact, any large company, such as schools, needs to have a check and balance to make sure that our tax dollars aren’t being spent willy nilly, and to make sure that the authorities don’t abuse their power over large numbers of people, especially children. However, the regulations we do have obviously don’t work well. We’re clearly doing something wrong, but I don’t believe that total deregulation is the answer. The answer lies somewhere else entirely.

    And as for small business, such as homeschools, I don’t see the point in regulation. It’s trying to apply rules and procedures of big business to the small guy, and that doesn’t make sense. Even if schools were perfect in every way, I’d question the validity of taking that same approach with small schools/homeschools. But since it doesn’t work, it’s even more obvious to me that it won’t work for small schools either.

    I for the record, I’m a liberal, but a very moderate one (I took a couple of those online tests and my dot landed just slightly left of the middle line) and I’m a registered Democrat but I am not a party-line Dem. I’ve looked into libertarianism, but it’s too extreme for me at this point. I’m a fairly staunch moderate and the only currently established political group that allows in moderates is the Dems. :)

    But, the dark side has its alluring aspects :) Your views and perspectives are very welcome here. Who knows, we might learn a thing or two from each other.

  • Beverly said:


    Thank you for a reasoned counter to the policy piece by Robin West. One thing that you said intrigued me: “Homeschooling is not perfect. But regulation is not the answer. I have my suspicions of what the answer is, but it’s not government regulation or testing results or benchmarks.”

    Could you elaborate on what your suspicions are? Is there anything that could (or even should) be done to ensure abusive parents don’t homeschool that wouldn’t impact the other 99.9% of us? I see this policy (if it is implemented) as a serious incursion into parental rights but as some laws are now it is possible for overcontrolling/abusive/exclusionary/wierd parents to keep their children out of the public eye under the guise of homeschooling.

    So I was wondering what your thoughts were. It’s not enough for homeschoolers to decry that more regulation will impact our freedoms to educate our children. We need to come up with an argument that will make secular John and Jane Q. Public realize that homeschooling is a viable educational alternative that works best when unregulated.

  • Luke Holzmann said:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I enjoyed reading it.

    Luke Holzmann´s last blog ..Lonely and Cold My ComLuv Profile

  • Chris Wysocki said:

    @Larry is of course onto something, less pervasive government regulation is what this nation desperately needs.

    I see the state trying to regulate homeschoolers to the point where you’ll give up and put your kids back in the public schools. That’s their goal, to keep kids in the public schools. Why? Because the public schools main goal isn’t to educate your children; that is the children are not the “customers” of the schools. The “customers” are the teachers, administrators, and other hangers-on to the education bureaucracy. Homeschooling threatens their hegemony over the educational process (as do vouchers). School boards exist to transfer money to teachers and administrators, and they then transfer money to educational service companies who provide specialized services such as schooling for “classified” children. The children are the pawns in this game.

    Remember, everything you need to know about the public school mentality can be summed in one quote from Albert Shanker (former head of the NYC teachers union) - “I’ll care about the children when the children start paying union dues.”
    Chris Wysocki´s last blog ..Admin note - comments are changing to "Echo" My ComLuv Profile

  • Architect said:

    I’m not willing to compromise with West. All she has to do is to convince someone in Congress to require states to enact homeschool regulations to get federal funding for public schools. This has already been discussed among policy advocates, so I’m not giving away ideas.

    Since the states have manipulated tests (NCLB) each year to produce the appropriate pass rates needed for federal funding of public schools, what’s to stop them from manipulating tests for homeschoolers? They can devise a more difficult test just for homeschoolers so they can fine those who fail. It’s like having the fox guard the hen house. Of course, they’ll also charge all the homeschoolers a fee for the privilege of taking the test. They’ll generate revenue at our expense meanwhile using the ruse that they care about the academic progress of our children. No thanks! Homeschool regulation is a risky scheme that we cannot afford.
    Architect´s last blog ..MRSA Outbreak Threatens U.S. Schools My ComLuv Profile

  • The Philosophy and Public Policy of Homeschooling « Red Sea School said:

    [...] other responses, see Tammy Takashi at Just Enough and Nothing More, Crunchy Mama at The Diosa Dotada Endeavor, Razzed, and Milton Gaither at Homeschooling Research [...]

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