A new bill proposed by Senator Capri Cafaro (D-Ohio) would require parents who have decided to homeschool their child to undergo an investigation by social services, who would then decide whether or not it would be permitted.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website is reporting that on December 3, 2013, Senate Bill 248 was introduced in Ohio. This bill is the latest attack against families from state legislatures who want to severely restrict choice to homeschool children. The HSLDA summarizes this bill:
It requires all parents who homeschool to undergo a social services investigation which would ultimately determine if homeschooling would be permitted. Social workers would have to interview parents and children separately, conduct background checks and determine whether homeschooling is recommended or not. If it is not recommended, parents would have to submit to an “intervention” before further consideration of their request to homeschool.
The reasoning for this bill stems from one incident in January 2013 where a 14-year-old boy died after being beaten by his mother's boyfriend while being taught at home. The mother had pulled him from public school after school officials reported signs of abuse to authorities. Seemingly, she attempted to cover up the abuse by homeschooling him, keeping him from the watchful eyes of public teachers.
However, that brings up an interesting point to counter the need for such a bill. The abuse was reported by the public school teachers to authorities and nothing was done. There is no reason to conclude that homeschooling the child had anything to do with facilitating a murder. This bill "unfairly targets homeschooling" by taking the focus away from the state - who did not protect the child when it was first reported - and laying it on an often stigmatized educational choice.
The HSLDA is fighting for withdrawal of this bill in the Ohio state legislature. They are on the side of protecting parents who choose this educational path for their children. Here is what they are saying:
SB 248 turns fundamental American values upside down…This law replaces parents with unqualified social workers to make educational decisions for children. Rather than target tens of thousands of decent Ohioans who homeschool, policymakers like Cafaro should try to discover what prevented police and social workers who knew what was going on from taking action and faithfully enforcing Ohio’s already adequate child protection laws. This bill is misguided and a step in the wrong direction.
The state should uphold the parent's right to choose an education that is best for their family, not restrict their choice because of one bad apple. They have the evidence from the thousands of families in Ohio that are successfully homeschooling their children without incident. If SB 248 passes, parents will be viewed as guilty until proven innocent.