WASHINGTON - The Obama Administration has made it clear in their view education is an issue just too crucial to be left entirely in parents' hands.
While the President has supported high-performing publicly-funded charter schools, he and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan successfully worked to remove private school vouchers from Washington D.C. students' options.
The Obama Administration's antagonistic view of parental school choice gained attention again this week when new Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. was asked his thoughts about home schooling at a breakfast for Christian Science Monitor reporters.
The Washington blog Politico reported Secretary King said he is concerned that home taught students aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids.”
Then he went on to say he is aware of home schooling families “doing it incredibly well” and he knew of home schooled students in college who had “very tremendous academic success.”
“Obviously, it’s up to families if they want to take a home school approach,” King said, but he worries that “students who are home schooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school”— unless parents are “very intentional about it.”
Home School Legal Defense Association's co-founder and Chairman Mike Farris said King's skepticism of home schooling could be paving the way for more government oversight.
“While Secretary King had some good things to say about home schooling, I’m disappointed that his comments imply that public schoolers have a wider range of options in education, which is simply not true,” Farris said. “Home schoolers are far outperforming their public schooled peers, largely due to the fact that parents know what works best for their child instead of implementing an outdated, one-size-fits-all approach that Secretary King appears to favor."
"During his time as New York’s Education Commissioner from 2011 to 2014, King repeatedly shut down important political discourse, particularly involving the discussion of whether New York should adopt Common Core," an action item from HSLDA said.
HLSDA asked parents to call their U.S. senators to oppose the nomination because King "canceled town hall meetings, limited comment time for parents and educators, and called concerned protestors 'brainwashed.'"
Congressman Randy Hultgren (IL-14) holds a different view of the "range of options" available to home taught students.
Two students taught at home in the 14th District were selected by a committee of advisors to be included in a special education project Hultgren's office has initiated to interest youngsters in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
Hultgren's yearlong STEM Scholars program offers to those selected to participate presentations, higher-level discussions, and on-site visits to some of the 14th District's premier STEM facilities.
“I am very excited to announce this talented and enthusiastic group of students who are interested in exploring and promoting science, technology, engineering and math,” said Rep. Hultgren. “These ambitious students are our next generation of innovative leaders, and I look forward to joining them at a creative and innovative manufacturer in the 14th District to see the results of STEM education in action."
Hultgren said he plans monthly meetings with the students to encourage them in their studies, expose them to the wide world of STEM fields and propel them to inspire others curious about what opportunities STEM education has to offer.
High schooler Claire Garretson, who is taught at home in Crystal Lake, and Lucas Kulesza, who is taught at home in West Chicago, will be joining 17 other selected public and private school students in Hultgren's program.
News of Hultgren's program is timely in response to Secretary King's cautions about home schoolers' limited "range of options." Home schooling families have led the way tapping into and encouraging creative ways to supplement their children's academics over the past 30 years in which home schooling has been experiencing revival throughout the states.
However, over those same years, there have been federal attempts to stifle home schooling - in forms of Congressional legislation, United Nations resolutions and judicial activism. Each time, the efforts were met by organized grassroots among home schooling networks, leading to one-on-one educational conversations with powers-that-be.
Following that established pattern, Farris and Director of Federal Relations William Estrada said they have reached out to Secretary King’s office with hopes of educating the secretary about the facts and benefits of home schooling.
Estrada said on his Facebook page that "government bureaucracies always seek more power at the expense of individual liberty. Education policy should be left to the states and localities.”
“The success of home schooling shows that freedom works," Estrada wrote. "Secretary King would replace that God-given freedom of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children with more government regulation."
Written by IR Editor and home school veteran Fran Eaton - Tweet her at @FranEaton