Recently I've been thinking about the state's role in education in general and its role in homeschooling specifically. When I first started to think about homeschooling and looking into various state regulations concerning education, I found that governmental oversight of education varies widely for state to state. For example, Pennsylvania, which is considered to be one of the most difficult states to homeschool in requires portfolios, standardized tests, notarized affidavits to homeschool, etc. Idaho, one of the easiest states, simply requires that you provide a comparable education (presumably to the public school curriculum). There is no notification, testing, any kind of oversight, or even a definition of a comparable education. Most states fall somewhere between these two extremes.
I do believe that there is a compelling interest in making sure that the citizens of a state are educated. I think educational neglect is just as damaging as physical or emotional neglect. The problem comes in defining what a decent education is, and the remedy if a child is not receiving one. Any type of education can be inadequate and one remedy does not fit all situations, but legislation usually ends up with a very limited number of solutions.
I am also very troubled when educational issues are linked to child protection issues. I don't think DFS or CPS should be involved in educational problems since it is an educational issue. I don't think educational neglect warrants removal from a home.
So what can I do about all of this? It is my responsibility to be aware of proposed legislation affecting homeschooling in Idaho. There has been an effort here the last few years to increase homeschooling regulations. Some of the proposals have been downright stupid. One legislator wanted to put parents in jail for allowing children's truancy. There were two major problems with this. First, there is no definition of what a comparable education is in Idaho. How can you decide if someone is truant when there is no way to know what they are supposed to be doing? Second, I cannot see how it would be helpful to a child to have their parent in jail if the sole problem in the home is educational neglect.
I wouldn't be angry about a little more oversight in Idaho, but I defenitely will be involved in the process if more oversight is suggested in the next session. It's always fun when the new legislative session starts.