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Home- Schoolers Warn of DCF Monitoring After Rep. Email, Descend on Capitol

Hundreds of home-schooling families wearing red packed overflow rooms to watch and testify at a public hearing before the Education Committee over fears that a provision in Gov. Ned Lamont’s school regionalization bill will force them to register with their school district and that the information will be monitored by the Department of Children and Families.

Their fears stem from an email sent by Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, to a concerned home-school parent which reads “By registering, if DCF crosschecks families with neglect investigations, they can better serve these kids who actually are being neglected and abused. Does that help to understand why this may be helpful to DCF and the kids who need intervention?”

The homeschool registration provision was buried in two sections of Lamont’s bill to create a school regionalization commission – an idea that already faces significant push back – and comes following last year’s report by the Office of the Child Advocate that some abusive parents used the guise of homeschool in order to hide their abused children from the public eye.

The governor’s regionalization bill requires home-schooling parents to register annually in person at their local school district and allows the district to make curriculum recommendations to those parents.

The provision, however, does not mention anything about DCF obtaining homeschool registration information, but the government interference combined with Linehan’s comments may have kicked a hornet’s nest.

Megan Morgan and Crystal Heft of the Connecticut Homeschool Network, which has 4,000 members, say they firmly believe they have a state Constitutional right to home-school their children without interference by the government.

Crystal Heft (center) and Megan Morgan (right) of CT Homeschool Network

“With the language that is currently there, what this would do is force home-schoolers to register annually in person with their district,” Morgan said. “We know this is related to the report by the Office of the Child Advocate, because one of the representatives let a constituent know they’re going to take the registration list and send it to DCF.”

The CT Homeschool Network distributed handouts with a list of publicized arrests of public school teachers and officials for abuse of children to make their point that abuse is not limited to home-schoolers.

Becky Crane, a home-schooling parent of three and administrator of a homeschool co-op with 100 members, says forcing home-schoolers to register so they can be monitored by the state is “discriminatory.”

“If they already have reports of families who are abusive, they should just follow up on those reports,” Crane said. “Regulation of an entire group is discriminatory against that group. That leads to taking away freedoms.”

Robin Matterfiss of Madison who home-schools her daughter says she opposes regulation of home-school. “I don’t think the government needs to interfere in what we’re doing. We’re better than the public schools and it’s been shown statistically that homeschoolers do better in college and forward.”

Amy Schwartz, a mother of four who home-schools her children with her husband says, thus far, Connecticut has been very friendly to homeschoolers and that any regulation may drive homeschool families away. 

“I think if you regulate, you’re going to turn a lot of people away,” Schwartz said standing with her thirteen-year old daughter clutching a Lord of the Rings novel. “It’s one of the things that attracts home-schoolers to Connecticut.”

The public hearing required overflow rooms which were packed with homeschool families and a number of other families opposing the idea of forced regionalization of Connecticut’s school districts.

Overflow room at the Legislative Office Building

Two bills being heard before the Education Committee would force smaller school districts to merge with larger districts, however those bills have not yet been drafted. Rather, it is the governor’s bill which is drawing the most concern from home-school families.

Sen. Will Haskell, D-Wilton, has come out against the forced regionalization bills and says “I have some real concerns about the homeschool aspects of this bill. I plan to take the governor up on his offer to talk about these issues.”

The mass showing before the Education Committee mirrors a 2018 public hearing in which hundreds of Asian-American families turned out to support a bill which would ban further disaggregation of student ethnic data beyond federal requirements.

Home-school groups believe the addition of the home-school provision in the governor’s regionalization bill was an attempt to sneak a new regulation past them by burying it in a bill which would otherwise not affect them.

“This is very concerning,” Becky Crane said. “The current law has been working. There’s no reason to add a law requiring all the home-schoolers to register with the state.” 

Linehan wrote in her email that she welcomes the opinion of her constituents. “If, after knowing this reasoning, you still believe this is an infringement on your rights, might you have any suggestions on how to achieve the same outcome, but without an objectionable mandate? Sometimes the best ideas come from constituents, so your input is valuable.”

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Marc E. Fitch

(5) Comments

  1. Bobo Smitshon

    March 6, 2019 1:02 am

    Statists, socialists, neo-Marxists, and all versions of controllers and do-gooders seem to hate the freedom of private homeschooling. It is hard for government-school folks to admit some of the obvious. It is no wonder that parent-led home-based education (homeschooling) is growing amongst a diversity of people – dark- and light-skinned, rich and poor, urban and rural, high- and low-income, Jew or pagan or Christian – all around the world. The home educated perform better (on average) academically, socially, and into adulthood than those who attend public/government schools. Further, their minds are free of the propaganda of state/government/public schools. Elitists cannot stand parent-led education because it keeps the children out of the elitists’ hands and control. Whether the propaganda in State-run schools is leftist, centrist, or rightist; heterosex-only or LGBTQIAXYZ; socialism, neo-Marxism, or hard-handed capitalism, freedom-loving parents do not want their children indoctrinated by the State. However, the statists and elitists will not rest, and are hard at work across the USA and in other nations to further control home-based education or co-opt it with tax-funded school-at-home programs. See research at http://www.nheri.org/homeschooling-research-studies-and-scholarship/

  2. C clark

    March 4, 2019 10:12 pm

    I am familiar with many home schoolers in Conn. Because of my daughter and her 8 home schooled children. In my varied relationships with them, I have found home schooled parents more involved and more caring of their children. What could be better than having a parent full time. They are taking their responsibility seriously. They have chosen not to leave child rearing to the state.

  3. June E Vendetti

    March 2, 2019 8:36 pm

    I don’t see the need to register with the school district, so long as the parents can handle teaching their children, and as long as they are meeting the guidelines set forth for that child. If, on the other hand, DCF knows that there is a problem of abuse or even suspects that a child is being abused, then yes, a certain degree of monitoring needs to take place. In any case, I’m guessing that this is just another way for the government to find out more info on the family.

  4. Traci

    March 2, 2019 1:24 pm

    The suggested changes in statute were instigated by DCF and the Office of the Child Advocate in a desperate effort to deflect their OWN failures in the death of Matthew Tirado who WAS NOT HOMESCHOOLED. Over 84% of abuse deaths are of children below school age – should every American parent have to “register” because they MIGHT be an abuser? It is estimated that AT LEAST 10% of American public school children are the victims of physical or sexual abuse AT SCHOOL by school personnel or other students. Our kids are safer that yours and (using YOUR standardized testing) better educated than yours. Leave us alone.

  5. Mary Artemis

    March 2, 2019 6:23 am

    The government should continue their present relationship with homeschoolers. If it ain’t broke ….

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