On November 2, 2015, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a home school family’s case, McIntyre v. El Paso ISD (EPISD). Groups pushing for state regulation of all home schoolers characterize this case as one in which the state is challenging whether the McIntyres were actually teaching their children at all. However, the fact is that the McIntyres sued El Paso ISD (EPISD) in a civil suit claiming that the school district was harassing them with threats of truancy.
EPISD was a named defendant in the Leeper case in the 1980s because it was one of the most aggressive districts in prosecuting home schoolers before that decision. It is clear from the record in the McIntyre case that the district continued its heavy-handed policy toward home schoolers even decades after the Leeper decision. Now EPISD argues that it shouldn’t be subject to sanctions because it has changed, and those policies are no longer in place.
What’s the agenda?
The left wing groups pushing the narrative that the McIntyre children were not being taught at all conveniently ignore key elements of the case to push their agenda that home school children must be “protected” by state regulation. I participated with one of the leaders of these groups in an online panel discussion, and she clearly communicated her viewpoint of home schoolers needing more regulations.
Who Directs a Child’s Education?
When asked by the liberals on the Huffington Post why I would oppose state regulation of home school students, I explained that parents should be the ones making decisions for their children’s education, not the government. In the not-so-recent past, public school officials in Texas had abused similar authority to limit or prevent parents from choosing to teach their children at home through an approval process, but we are not willing to give that authority to anyone but parents. I also pointed out that numerous studies have conclusively shown that home schoolers score well above their public school counterparts.
What’s the Actual Problem?
In response to anecdotal stories of home school families who do not teach their children, I explained that every state has compulsory attendance laws and, if there is evidence that education is not taking place, then prosecution for truancy is in order. The law requires that children be educated. The problem is not home schooling, but truancy.
Do Regulations Help Students?
Home school families do not need regulations to do a better job. As evidence, I offered the studies showing there is no correlation between high regulation and better test scores. The most regulated education system is the public school system and it cannot guarantee that every child gets an adequate education. Students need to be educated; parents do not need to be regulated.
How do We Keep Our Freedom?
However, it seems that those who believe that government regulation is the solution to every problem are predisposed to support efforts to limit the fundamental constitutional right of parents to direct the care, control, and education of their children. Focus should be placed on the failing public schools and not the successful home school community. THSC will continue to push back against these attempts to limit parental rights and Keep Texas Families Free!
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