Do homeschooling parents need government minders?
Though the homeschool community in Maryland has continued to flourish for decades without the government’s help, Maryland Delegate Sheila Ruth recently proposed an “advisory council” that would watch over and collect data on homeschool families.
While presented as a committee to “gather information on the needs of homeschool parents and homeschool umbrella schools,” parents seeking to maintain independence see the council as another shrouded attempt to control parental choice.
Ruth, a Baltimore County Democrat, officially proposed the legislation in the form of HB832. The legislation would create a 16-member council composed of four political appointees, four government officials and eight members of the homeschool community.
The proposal would essentially place homeschool parents under the watchful eye of a government agency, a situation most homeschool parents chose to avoid in the first place.
Bethany S. Mandel, a homeschool mom and writer in Maryland, exposed the bill’s contents on Twitter, calling on Ruth to withdraw it from consideration. Mandel suggests that the council could easily be leveraged to bully homeschool families, regardless of their stated purpose. In a message to the Daily Signal, Mandel wrote, “They’ll pass more restrictive rules on us and say, ‘It was suggested by homeschooling families themselves! We have a council!’ (That they chose.)”
The Home School Legal Defense Association shared a similar sentiment. The Virginia-based firm warned that the council’s formation was rife with opportunities for abuse and overreach. HSLDA said in an official statement:
“Homeschooling has thrived for decades without government assistance. Instead of creating a new bureaucratic entity to gather information on the needs of homeschool programs, HSLDA encourages government entities and actors to respect homeschooling programs by preserving liberty and avoiding unnecessary regulation.”
Resistance to the bill has picked up enough steam that a group of members from the Maryland General Assembly signed on to a letter asking the state legislature to withdraw HB832 from consideration. The letter suggests the bill would put too much power in the hands of partisan appointees, and that a 16-member council could not adequately represent the diverse opinions of Maryland’s homeschool families.
A Change.org petition calling on Ruth to withdraw the bill has already garnered nearly 2,200 signatures out of the desired 2,500. The petition states:
We teach our children in accordance with the law at our own expense. Most homeschool graduates go on to college and career success. …The huge majority of the thousands in the Maryland homeschool community are bi-partisan moms and dads who just want a quality education for their children without oppressive state interference. HB0832 will entangle the state, in partnership with competitive actors, to interfere with and “gather information on” families and programs, and “report” to the State. … If this bill makes it to the full Committee thousands of active and successful homeschool families will become involved in opposition.
While evidence of collusion between government entities and teachers’ unions to enforce specific ideologies surfaces, parents all around the nation are waking up to just how entrenched these radical ideas have become. Introduced in January, Maryland House Bill 352 seeks to reframe history taught in classes to be centered around race and ethnicity. It would essentially create a list of diversity, equity and inclusion requirements for public schools. Though one sponsor of the bill says it’s not “critical race theory,” the bill’s language appears to be an amalgamation of CRT jargon.
Montgomery County, Maryland’s largest school district, is currently entrenched in an “Antiracist System Audit.” Interim superintendent Monifa McKnight says all curricula will now be put through an “antiracist lens” that “helps students understand and resist systems of oppression.”
These kinds of actions, which embed CRT language into law and curricula, only add to homeschool parents’ concerns about HB832 – and what government intrusions on homeschooling will come of it.