News Story

Michigan Democratic Staffer: Homeschooling Lobby 'Scary', Not Rational

Homeschooling parents say there is contempt for families seeking child's best interest

The left-leaning nonprofit ProPublica recently ran an article on home schooling that opened by relating an anecdote from 2003. It tells of a 19-year-old man in New Jersey who weighed just 45 pounds and was found rummaging through a neighbor’s garbage. The explanation for how such a thing could happen is delivered by a state politician who says, “I was told it was because he was homeschooled.”

The story, co-published on the liberal, then quotes Ellen Heinitz, who is the legislative director for a Democratic state representative from Detroit, about her experience with a national homeschooling lobbying group called the Home School Legal Defense Association. Heinitz works for Rep. Stephanie Chang, whose House Bill 4498 would mandate homeschool registration and increase other regulations.

“I’ve never seen a lobby more powerful and scary,” Heinitz was quoted as saying. “They make the anti-vaxxers seem rational.” This is a reference to people who believe vaccines are dangerous.

Karen Braun, a nationally known homeschool education activist from Michigan, said the story is part of a trend to get the public to view homeschooling with suspicion.

“She’s throwing out a caricature,” Braun said. “What she is really exposing is her own contempt for people who act outside of the state and for people who think they know what’s best for their children.”

Braun said some school districts are becoming more accepting of homeschooling. Some districts are partnering with homeschool families. The public school district gets money for the homeschool students who participate in certain elective classes. Lapeer Community Schools is one of the districts involved in the homeschooling partnership.

When asked to estimate how many children are being homeschooled in Michigan, Braun said:

“You can’t. And that’s a good thing. How many parents breast feed? Why would you care? Why is it an important thing? It’s free people acting on their best interests of their family. That’s the beauty of liberty. That’s the beauty of freedom.”

Cathy Keller, a homeschooling parent from Jackson, said the liberals in education and government want to control every aspect of citizens' lives. She said the homeschooling phenomena is growing as are the curriculum options.

“Basically, school is being redesigned by parents because of a failed model that has been hijacked and corrupted,” Keller said. “If they had a successful model, they would be attracting participants, but they won't tolerate our freedom of choice. So I could go on for days and days about why I homeschool and why I don’t want liberal minded bureaucrats deciding what they want for my children. The parents who abuse their children are the problem, not because they say they homeschool. … The majority of homeschooled kids are successful because someone is taking time to give them personal instruction. There are successes and failings in both the public schools and in home schools, but they don't control homeschools and there lies the rub.”

There are no official estimates of how many people homeschool in Michigan. Registration is not required for parents who homeschool, but there is provision for voluntary registration. The law does require parents whose child does not attend public or private school to provide an "organized educational program" in the subjects of reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, literature, writing, and English grammar.


See also:

House Rep. Wants to Force Homeschool Families to Report Attendance to the State

Almost 220,000 Michigan Public School Students Rely on Schools of Choice

Bureaucrats vs. Parents: Who Should Choose Where Children Are Educated?