- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 23, 2002

In 1985, JC Penney sold a T-shirt that displayed a rundown trailer on the front; over the picture in sloppily scrawled writing were the words "home-skooled." That same year, five families from Florida were prosecuted for truancy, and one temporarily lost custody of its children. All of that was because these families decided to educate their children at home.

Today, home schooling has expanded its roots and emerged from a scorned underground culture into a blossoming alternative to traditional methods of education. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that between 1.6 and 2 million students are now home-schooled, and predicts that that number will increase by 15-20 percent a year. Currently, homeschools, along with charter, magnet and specialty schools, are just another manifestation of school choice.

However, despite improvements in society's perception, official recognition of home-schooled students' rights remains minimal. Furthermore, many school administrations criticize the form of adjustable curriculum used by home-schooled students, claiming it is ineffective. In fact, last month five different Florida school districts mandated evaluations for home-schooled students. These mandates were later overturned in court because they were discriminatory and unconstitutional.

In Texas, Baylor University formally accepted six students, only to deny them admission after realizing that they were home-schooled. Students in Maine were told that they could only attend college if they had a diploma that was recognized by the state. This created a large problem. The state lacks a process for home-schoolers to obtain recognition of their diplomas.

New York's Jefferson Community College told home-schooled students that they could not become regular students or receive financial aid. They were informed by a U.S. Department of Education financial aid officer that the school would be disqualified for federal higher education assistance if it gave money to home-schooled students.

This is not the first time that governmental bureaucracy has provided confusing and misleading information about its own laws when it comes to homeschoolers. In 1996, President Clinton signed into law a bill which said that such students who completed the required paperwork would be eligible for state aid, just like public school students. But the administration later printed a financial aid manual that excluded the new information. Students who are homeschooled are constantly faced with such foolish, perverse obstacles.

In the name of "fairness," public education has produced a system which does a good job of providing politically correct indoctrination about subjects such as condom use, homosexual rights, global warming, etc. But it does a poor job of teaching children basic reading, writing and mathematics skills. For a growing number of children, homeschooling provides an alternative to a public-school system that has failed. The government has no business putting roadblocks in the way of responsible parents who understandably want their children to be able to opt out of the government schools.

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