COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — More than 50,000 students in Ohio are homeschooled, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Ashtabula) introduced House Bill 127 — legislation that would make home schooling approval easier to obtain — in the Ohio House in March.
Under HB 127, the superintendent of a school would only be required to acknowledge a parent or caretaker’s intent to home school.
“The notice shall provide the parent’s name and address, the child’s name, and an assurance that the child will receive education in the subject areas required under this section. The child’s exemption under this section is effective immediately upon receipt of notice,” the legislative text reads.
This removes the requirement that parents must submit textbooks and subject curricula they plan to use for approval. Amy Buchmeyer, a staff attorney for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, said she believes that becomes “extra paperwork” on the superintendents’ desk.
“It doesn’t do the superintendent a lot of good to get that information when they’re not the ones doing the teaching and they’re not the ones to actually know the child, mold the education to the child,” Buchmeyer said.
But Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro called the bill a “misguided effort.”
“(It) really gets us away from the need to ensure every single student, regardless of where they live, has access to a high-quality education,” DiMauro said.
The bill would still require parents to provide their children with a core education — including in English, math, science and history.
“What this does is it says the burden to educate is on the parent,” Buchmeyer said. “And if they’re doing it in compliance with the law, that’s going to be the education they’re providing for their child.”
But DiMauro said this bill takes the idea of flexibility in education too far. He worries about instances like earlier this year, where neo-Nazi curriculum was being used to home-school in northern Ohio.
“Those kinds of things, I think are problematic,” DiMauro said. “That doesn’t reflect the vast majority of people who choose to homeschool their kids, but taking away the little bit of accountability and oversight that exists is a mistake.”
Buchmeyer argued that under the current system, that problem could occur in public schools and private schools, too.
“It’s not a unique to homeschool problem and I would also say there’s no accurate way to monitor what children are being taught in homes, regardless of where you’re sending your child school,” she said.
The bill would also allow a child to be enrolled in a public school following any period of home education and says they “shall be placed in the appropriate grade level, without discrimination or prejudice, based on the policies of the child’s district of residence.”