The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is urging Connecticut lawmakers to require stricter regulations for homeschooling children – a proposal that already is stirring up controversy and opposition.
After all, Connecticut lawmakers proposed a bill last year that would have required mental health assessments for children in public school and those who are homeschooled. But after facing intense opposition from homeschool supporters, the bill died in committee.
The new proposed requirements would apply to homeschool children who have emotional, social or behavioral problems – although determining which children fit those categories “could only be accomplished by mandatory mental health screenings performed on all homeschool students,” said Dee Black of the Home School Legal Defense Association.
“The commission is recommending that homeschool students with emotional or behavioral problems be required to submit an individualized education plan to the local public school district for approval and progress reports thereafter,” Black wrote online. “Parents whose children failed to make ‘adequate progress’ as determined by public school officials would be denied the right to teach their children at home.”
Black believes that the panel doesn’t have any evidence for linking homeschooling to violence.
“There is simply no basis for the assertion that there is a connection between homeschooling and violence in public schools,” Black said. “The proposal by the commission appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to this tragedy without an examination of the educational history of the perpetrator, Adam Lanza.”
Lanza spent most of his school life in public school and was homeschooled for a short period of time upon recommendation of his psychologist, according to the City-Journal. Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s and his problems preceded his homeschooling, the website said.
The Connecticut Post reported last month that the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission wants to make it mandatory for the parents of homeschooled children to submit “individualized education plans approved by the special education director of the local public school district.”
If parents want to continue homeschooling these children, then they would be required to show “adequate progress” documented in mandatory annual reports.
“Continuation of homeschooling should be contingent upon approval of [individualized education plans] and adequate progress as documented” in progress reports, said Susan Schmeiser, a professor of mental health law at the University of Connecticut Law School, according to CT News Junkie.
The Sandy Hook panel sees a potential connection between the homeschooling of special-needs students and mass murder committed by Lanza.
“Given the individuals involved in the tragedy that formed the basis of this commission, I think we have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are home-schooled,” said Harold I. Schwartz, a member of the commission.
Patricia Keavney-Maruca, a member of the Connecticut Board of Education, supported the proposal but told CT News Junkie that there will be much opposition from parents.
“It may be hard to implement because parents may want to get their back up and say ‘You can’t make me do that if I’m homeschooling,” she said.
HSLDA will work to defeat the proposal, Black said.
“Home School Legal Defense Association will vigorously oppose any effort to subject homeschool students to mental health screenings and any attempt to deny parents the constitutional right to choose homeschooling as an educational option for their children,” he said.
Black told World Magazine, “To assert that there is any connection between homeschooling and violence in public schools is simply ludicrous. There is no evidence to support this.”
And if the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission considered the 1999 Columbine shooting and the dozens of other public school shootings, perhaps they would have come to the same conclusion.
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