If Homeschoolers Want Tax Credits, They Need to be Regulated

At the New York Times' Room for Debate, one of my Spencer Fellowship advisors, Luis Huerta of Teachers College, has a smart analysis of how the GOP/Tea Party's focus on "parental rights" and homeschooling threatens President Obama's education agenda. In short–as I reported in The Daily Beast last month–focusing on the tiny population of homeschoolers draws the focus away from where it needs to be: tackling the inequalities and shortcomings of our public school system. Luis is right to call it a "culture war":

…the administration will need to confront efforts to co-opt its critically important national education agenda with a fabricated call to preserve parental rights. The culture war incited by a group acting to protect its private interest must be diffused by the preservation of a common good advanced by a democratic schooling system that serves nearly 90 percent of school-age children, and promotes the diverse perspectives and beliefs of a pluralistic democracy.

As Stanford political scientist Rob Reich notes, it's not that tax credits for homeschooling are necessarily bad policy–the problem is that the folks advocating so hard for the credits also resist any and all attempts to regulate the growing homeschooling sector. (It's kind of like how conservatives want corporate interests to benefit from federal tax breaks without any federal oversight.) But there's no doubt that more data-collection and regulation are exactly what homeschooling needs:

The sad and hidden truth about home schooling is that no one knows whether home schooled students are performing well or poorly. We have no shortage of anecdotes – home schoolers who end up at Stanford or who win spelling bees. Astonishingly, however, we know practically nothing about the academic performance of the average home schooler. The studies that grab headlines use a biased and unrepresentative sample of home schoolers.

Want a tax credit to home school? Accept a requirement to register your child as being home schooled and that the child take the same state tests as other public school students. Federal dollars come with strings attached, and these particular strings are in the best interests of children, anyway.

One thought on “If Homeschoolers Want Tax Credits, They Need to be Regulated

  1. Kristi Walker

    “But there’s no doubt that more data-collection and regulation are exactly what homeschooling needs:”

    No doubt? Really? And what data do you have to back up that statement? It can’t possibly be the spanking we give public/private schoolers on the testing that most homeschoolers already take. Facts cannot be altered, no matter your idea of “truth”. We can’t get in most Universities without the SAT/ACT, either, so yes, we’re ALREADY taking them. That isn’t too hard to assimilate, right? Feel free to actually do some research for yourself and see the facts.

    You’ll also find that most Universities and colleges are chasing us down to get us in the door. We make them look good. Our students are actually capable of doing the work without someone holding their hand.

    Using Reich as your “expert” is akin to Conservatives using Fox as their “news”. You should try a truly neutral source if you want your posts to be credible.

    “The sad and hidden truth about home schooling is that no one knows whether home schooled students are performing well or poorly.”

    The sad and not so hidden truth is that everyone knows how institutionlized children are performing. They know how many do not graduate and how many are illiterate. They know exactly how many are pushed through because no child should be left behind (insert sarcasm there at your whim) and they know exactly enough to pass the test…well, sort of. You guys aren’t really doing that great a job with that, either. The NEA is furious over that little tidbit. One of the reasons why homeschoolers infuriate them is because our goal is to actually encourage our children to learn and think for themselves. Not JUST play academic olympics for the money! (insert dramatic music there)

    Do some more research, and you’ll find that homeschoolers actually don’t want this money at all. The lawmakers do. They want to regulate. After all, we’re making the NEA and Dept. of Education look useless…oh, wait…they actually ARE useless (we won’t even get into the Constitutional issues of it). We’re just proving it.

    “The studies that grab headlines use a biased and unrepresentative sample of home schoolers.”

    Really? Well, it can’t be both. Since you say you don’t know the academic performance of homeschoolers, how do you know this? Either you know and are aware that almost all homeschoolers graduate from high school AND go on to higher education and therefore are doing extrememly well academically and the “headlines” aren’t biased at all, or you don’t know and shouldn’t be accepting random statements simply because they line up with your worldview. Again, SAT/ACT tests that ALL college applicants must take seems to suggest you have a straw man argument here. Circular reasoning at it’s finest.

    Reply

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