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4/4/2003 2:44:42 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Michigan--New Study Recommends State Regulation of Homeschoolers

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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April 4, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

A recent policy report released by the Education Policy Center at
Michigan State University recommends registration with the Department
of Education for Michigan homeschools. The report, entitled
"Michigan's Role in Monitoring Home Schools" examines the question of
what role the state should play in monitoring homeschool families.

You can read the full report at:
http://www.epc.msu.edu/publications/report/report15.pdf

The report observes that there are an estimated 100,000 "missing"
students in the state of Michigan who are homeschooled by their
parents without any state regulation. The report argues that
Michigan has a constitutional responsibility to educate its children
for the common good and that the current homeschool law does not
allow the state to fulfill this responsibility: "[T]he lack of even
minimal requirements conveys the message that parents are not
accountable to anyone for their child's education. Each state must
decide how to balance the rights of parents, the rights of children,
and the interests of the state."

In order to balance this perceived conflict of interests, the
Education Policy Center recommends that Michigan require parents to
register their homeschool: "At the very least, the State should amend
the current 3(f) exemption to require that home school parents
register with the Michigan Department of Education or their local
ISD. This system...would signal that the State takes seriously its
obligation, and that of parents, to leave no child behind."

In the 1980s and early 1990s, homeschoolers in Michigan were
incredibly harassed by local school districts and the State
Department of Education simply because they chose to homeschool. Many
families were taken to court. During those years, we represented
thousands of homeschool families, whose right to homeschool was
challenged. Fortunately for the homeschoolers in Michigan, in our
case People v. DeJonge, 501 N.W.2d 127, (Mich. 1993), the state
supreme court ruled in favor of the homeschool families. The court
found the requirement that parents be certified teachers in order to
homeschool, an unconstitutional violation of the Free Exercise Clause
of the First Amendment.

A few years later, the legislature saw the importance of protecting
parents' rights in the area of education and enacted MCLA sec.
380.01. "It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal
guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education
of their children." This reaffirmed the basic fundamental right of
all parents, including homeschool parents, to have the right to
choose the form of education they deem best for their children.

Finally, the right to choose homeschooling free from unnecessary
state regulation and supervision was specifically protected in the
homeschool exemption MCLA sec. 380.1561 (3)(f). This law encompasses
all the legal obligations of a home school family in the state of
Michigan. "The child is being educated at the child's home by his or
her parent or legal guardian in an organized educational program in
the subject areas of reading, spelling, mathematics, science,
history, civics, literature, writing, and English grammar."

This law, in addition to all other authority referred to above,
clearly establishes that parents have the right to choose
homeschooling. The burden to prove the family is not home educating
is carried by the school district. The homeschool families are
presumed to be fulfilling this law unless the school district has
probable cause or credible evidence that they are not.

All the studies that have been done in the last 15 years show that
homeschoolers generally score above average on standardized
achievements tests--both in the elementary and the secondary grades.
The two college entrance exams, the ACT and the SAT, have also
tracked homeschooler performance and have discovered that most
homeschoolers score above average on these exams as well. Finally,
after graduation, many homeschoolers enter college. The colleges who
have surveyed their student body have all found that homeschooled
graduates usually have a higher GPA than students coming from other
school backgrounds.

Contrary to the opinion of some, research demonstrates that there is
no positive correlation between state regulation of home schools and
performance of homeschool students. According to Dr. Brian Ray,
president of the National Home Education Research Institute, the
degree of governmental regulation has no significant effect on the
academic performance of homeschoolers. Whether a state imposes a high
degree of regulation, low regulation, or no regulation, homeschool
student test score averages are nearly identical. Such regulations
may be legitimately questioned since there is no apparent benefit to
student learning.

See: Home School Achievement
http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/comp2001/default.asp

Home School Legal Defense Association will be watching the Michigan
Legislature to ensure that no changes are made to the homeschool law.
We have worked with several friends in the state legislature who
assure us that they do not want to regulate homeschoolers. We will
keep you updated on any attempts to change the law.

Freedom is not free. We must protect it with vigilance. We
appreciate your support of HSLDA and will continue to stand by you.

Sincerely,

Chris Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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