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  • LAST AND LEAST

    Filed at 9:06 am under by dcobranchi

    The family of frequent H&OES commenter Maryalice Newborn is mentioned in the concluding segment of the Daily Local series, which brings up but never really gets to the heart of the freedom of religion and freedom of conscience issues at the center of the Pennsylvania lawsuits.

    In the course of the piece, there’s an interesting stat about the results of Pennsylvania’s annual evaluation process:

    For the school year 2002-03, there were 107 cases where a student’s program was deemed inappropriate by an evaluator and 294 cases where a superintendent deemed it inappropriate, according to the state Department of Education. Of those cases, only 16 made it to the hearing level.

    So, of the 24,415 registered homeschooled children in Pennsy in 2002-03, only .0006 had programs deemed bad enough to require an administrative hearing. And how much money and time is spent, by parents and districts alike, to isolate these 16 children? (I checked the state report from which these numbers were drawn, and it’s silent on whether any of those hearings resulted in a child being placed back in school.)

    And as someone who is fighting hard to keep New Jersey’s law from getting worse, I find quotes like these quite dispiriting:

    Liz Highley, 40, of West Vincent, has four children whom she is already home schooling or is planning to home school, and agrees with the challengers that her children’s education is a religious right.

    “We believe that their education is a responsibility given to us by God,” said Highley. She said she can identify with the religious beliefs of the Newborns and the Hankins to have complete jurisdiction over their children’s education. However, she herself does not feel overburdened with the state requirements.

    “I don’t feel threatened by the regulation in our state. But I also recognize that other states don’t have as much regulation as ours has,” said Highley. “It begs the question, ‘Why do we have to have the regulation in our state?’”

    Kathleen McKnight, 47, of Phoenixville, is a home schooling mom who lived in Oklahoma for 11 years before moving to the county in 1991. She has found a different environment here, she says.

    “The laws here are pretty restrictive,” said McKnight.

    She is required to keep a log of her activities and submit a portfolio each year, but she said she does not find it particularly difficult to complete. “It’s unnecessary paperwork, I think, on both ends,” she said. “You can do it. It’s just more of why should I have to?”

    Welmod Freeman, 47, of Franklin, is a born again Christian who said she understands both sides of the argument.

    Most home schooling families choose home schooling because they want to do the right thing for their children, she said. She worries that a few people who take advantage of a lack of rules could make it difficult for everyone else.

    “I certainly understand where they are coming from,” said Freeman. But on the other hand, “it doesn’t take much to comply with certain laws.”

    3 Responses to “LAST AND LEAST”


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 14th, 2004
    at 7:38 pm

    I don’t understand PA homeschoolers. A year or so ago there was a proposal to dramatically reduce the amount of regulation; several home educators actually testified against it in favor of keeping the existing law. Personally, I think they’ve been conned by “Pennsylvania Homeschoolers” (the organization) into thinking their stupid laws somehow give there homeschooling programs more status than those in other states.


    Comment by
    Dave
    December 14th, 2004
    at 7:55 pm

    Yes- I think PA Homeschoolers is still stuck in the paradigm back when homeschooling was illegal. In my opinion, they feel that the current laws are a necessary compromise to avoid even stricter regulation that could come after years of more relaxed policies. I have tremendous respect for the Richmonds and what they have done in Pa, but its probably time for homeschoolers in Pa to acknowledge that the current situation is not healthy.


    Comment by
    maryalice from PA
    December 15th, 2004
    at 9:10 am

    Gee, I don’t know where to start. 😉 I look at these types of articles as just more people with opinions; not based upon the law, our case, the facts or logic.
    -When I testified in 2002, I brought up the data, at that time, 0.09% of the homeschoolers were questioned for inappropriate education by the superintendents (This is not a sampling, but reporting in from 501 Superintendents.) We did not find 1 that had actually gone to due process hearing, but they were resolved by the parents and the school district. The cost of micromanaging the homeschoolers to find (worst case scenario) was about $250,000/student. Fiscal responsibility? I think not, but the legislators did not care. They want control. You can read my full testimony at:
    member...13.htm
    -Most of the media, when discussing the law suits, seem to focus on “the paperwork”. Let me scream it again. IT IS NOT ABOUT THE PAPERWORK. 🙂 It is about the authority. The public school superintendent has ultimate authority over the PA home education programs. They *approve* the education as “appropriate,” which has a totally subjective definition.
    -The 501 superintendents make up their own policies. We have one law that is unconstitutionally vague. Some School Districts demand FBI clearances of the parents; personal inf0rmation about parents religion, jobs, social security nos., sibling inf0rmation; some SD demand to interview the parents and “approve them” in order to homeschool children; one SD even put a limit on the number of “applicants” in a family (I didn’t know that g-schools were also into population control.) All of this is illegal. This is Count 2 of our law suits.
    – Lots more I can say about the activities in PA, but I won’t bore you.
    – But one last clarification. PA Homeschoolers ™ is a FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS of the Richman family. They have their hands into every aspect of making profit in the current PA Home ed law. They do not represent PA homeschoolers. They have personally fought against reducing regulations in PA. Mr. Richman has used ever deceptive tactic known in the political arena to give legislators reasons to keep the status quo (and even try to make things worse). He has recently used the ABJ articles to try to make things worse. With a homeschooler like him, who needs the NEA or Rob Reich.
    -There are many of us who have been fighting *for years* for freedom for PA home educators.