The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XXI, NUMBER 1
- disclaimer -
January / February 2005


FEATURES
State Legislation Summary—2004
2004 art contest

Our Judges

Winners of the three categories
PHC beats Oxford in debate
GenJ: Into the land

What are Generation Joshua & HSLDA PAC?

Sodrel: One very tight race . . .

Davis: In a dead heat

DEPARTMENTS
From the heart

2004 in review

From the director

Impact of the fund

Mission statement of HSF
Across the states
Active cases
Members only
About campus
President's page

ET AL.

On the other hand: a Contrario Sensu

HSLDA social services contact policy/A plethora of forms

HSLDA legal inquiries

Prayer & Praise


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  LEGAL/LEGISLATIVE UPDATES  

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ACROSS THE STATES

AL · CA · CO · FL · GA · IA · KY · MI · MS · MO · NV · NJ · NM · NY · ND · OH · OK · OR · PA · RI · TX · UT · VT · VA · WA · WI

NEW JERSEY

Homeschooling forbidden for these children?

A bill introduced in the New Jersey Legislature, A3185, would outlaw homeschooling any child who is in the care, custody, or supervision of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).

The task force of homeschool organizations that came together to defeat Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg's A1918 last year is now taking steps to oppose A3185, for a number of reasons. (For more on A1918, see "Battleground New Jersey" in the March/April 2004 Court Report .)

Many children in the care of DYFS have never received stable, loving parental care or consistent support from a responsible adult. They may have suffered unspeakable maltreatment. For some of these children, the best possible therapy may be to allow a foster family with an excellent track record to homeschool them. Healing may come while spending time with a loving adult, rather than being placed in crowded classrooms and bounced from teacher to teacher.

Under current law, a judge can permit a child who is under the care of DYFS to be homeschooled, if that would be best for the child. Prohibiting all DYFS children from being homeschooled violates the principle that what is best for one child may not be best for another. A judge's hands should not be tied. If a judge has fewer options, it is harder for him to do what is truly best for each child.

In addition, this bill could traumatize some children by abruptly yanking them from the educational setting to which they are accustomed. In some cases, DYFS has control of a child for three days before a judge even looks at the case. During this three-day period, it may be best for the child to remain in his customary homeschool setting. In districts where the local public school environment is volatile, a child who is safe in a homeschool may suddenly be placed at risk of attack and injury at the hands of fellow students.

A3185 ignores reality. Millions of children across the country are being safely homeschooled with superb results—including many foster children. Study after study has shown homeschooling is successful, including one just published by David Frances, a public school psychologist, and Timothy Keefe, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas–Austin. Homeschooled children are no more likely than others to be victims of abuse or neglect. By forbidding homeschooling for every child in DYFS custody, A3185 implies that homeschooling is always the worst choice. This is simply wrong and may actually cut off a child from the best educational path for him.

— by Scott A. Woodruff