Sometimes it takes a horror story to arouse the public to the shortcomings of educational preferences (“After the Perris nightmare, it’s time to monitor home-schools more closely,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 18). I have reference now to the situation in Perris, Calif., where a husband and wife kept their 13 children chained and malnourished for years under the guise of home schooling them.
All states now allow parents to home school their children. But the rules vary widely. For example, New York State requires that such students take the state’s annual standardized tests. Pennsylvania requires families to register each year with their local school district, outlining lesson plans and certifying that adults in the home do not have a criminal record. Student portfolios are submitted to private evaluators for review, which then go to a school district superintendent to approve. In contrast, California requires only an annual form filed with the state.
Parents have the right to choose home schooling. But they don’t have the right to abuse their children in doing so. That’s why annual inspections are needed. They would be no assurance of a quality education, but at least they would provide a minimal standard. I don’t regard this proposal as intrusive because all states have child-welfare laws.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.