Saturday, September 8, 2012

Home schooling discussion ends before it starts

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

State officials on Friday backed off any examination of the requirements for home schooling.

“I don’t see us pursuing that next year,” said state Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, who is chairman of the House-Senate Legislative Educational Planning Committee.

Huebert noted that several members of the State Board of Education last month said they had heard of children being kept home to baby-sit younger siblings while their parents claimed the children were being home-schooled.

But Huebert said current state law is adequate to investigate such allegations without having to consider changing any laws dealing with home schooling.

During the August meeting of the Education Board, Chairman David Dennis, R-Wichita, said he would like to discuss whether the board should propose legislation to increase state reporting requirements for home-schoolers. The board agreed to discuss the issue further this month.

But officials said Friday that discussion won’t occur. Education Board Member Sue Storm, D-Kansas City, who attended the Legislative Educational Planning Committee meeting, said board members were “hammered” by home-schooling proponents.

Kansas doesn’t specifically authorize home schooling, but it does recognize what are called “nonaccredited private schools.” Nonaccredited schools are not required to employ teachers who are certified by the state, but their courses must be taught by competent instructors, and classes must be held for about the same number of days as public schools.

The only requirement to have a nonaccredited private school is to register the name and address of the school and custodian of school records with the State Board of Education.

State Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, said no one wants to limit home schooling but that maybe there could be a more open dialogue between state education officials and home-schoolers.

“I want all kids in Kansas to get a quality education,” she said.