If you are not familiar with how things are done in Jefferson City, with regard as to how legislation is formed, it is important to understand that even though January marks the beginning of the legislative session, work has been going on behind the scenes for months, even years, in formulating plans for lawmaking. This year seems to be the year of culmination for education reform in Missouri. It is also very important for you to understand why this may be a grave threat to your ability to maintain your homeschooling freedoms.
With the unilateral implementation of Common Core Standards across Missouri and Race to the Top being redressed and repurposed in order to camouflage and re sell its philosophy of nanny state eduction to the taxpayers, the next focus will be the switch from traditional public education to a massive infusion of Charter Schools across the state and maybe even vouchers and/or tax credits. Disastrous for homeschoolers? Yes, and here is why.
The legislature, Republican and Democrat, is deeply rooted in the idea that it is government’s job to monitor, regulate, supervise, oversee, the education of the children under their representation. We continue to see, year after year, more and more legislation designed to put more educational bureaucracy into government. With that ever growing bureaucracy, more authority to define and choose standards also shifts from parents to the bureaucrats and legislators. It is this mindset that defies the homeschooler’s freedom to make the best educational choices for their own children. Read these comments from Senator, Jane Cunningham:
“There are many times that government uses the private sector to achieve their goals,” Cunningham said. “I think maybe this is the time, because we are slipping behind so dramatically in global rankings, to ask what is the best way to deliver education to the public. …
… We so desperately need education reform and quality schools. The Legislature has to look at what we feel are appropriate measures.”
With the introduction of Charter Schools added to the mix of educational reform, there will be, as there has been in the past, discussion of vouchers and tax credits. There has always been a debate about the amount of taxation that homeschoolers pay to support public education, but it is extremely important to understand that no tax relief would ever come without serious strings attached.
This year, Scott Dieckhaus, (R) District 109 – Franklin and St. Charles Counties, is the Chairman of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. He will be spearheading, for the House of Representatives, all legislation related to education. Here is the problem. Representative Dieckhaus has repeatedly voiced opinions which may be adverse to educational freedoms.
The St. Louis Beacon published and article
in which Dieckhaus said that he is willing to go as far as changing the Missouri Constitution and putting all options on the table as it relates educational reform. Does Dieckhaus believe that private schools should be pulled under the umbrella of public education oversight if they accept vouchers? Will he also expect the same from homeschoolers who receive tax credits?
He also realizes that if public money is going to go to non-public schools, taxpayers are going to want some sort of say over how it will be spent.
“There should be some form of oversight or accountability,” he said. “I’ve talked to quite a few private and parochial schools, and they seem to be at least willing to look at it.”
On November 29th-30th, Dieckhaus attended a conference on Education and had this to say, on Twitter, about the experience:
Ready to spend three days with some of the greatest education reformers in the world. Better education is coming to Missouri soon!
and excited to hear from Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Eva Moskowitz, Arne Duncan among others.
Why would Republican, Dieckhaus, choose a Democrat who is about as far removed from the republican platform, as a mentor? Let’s talk about Arne Duncan as a mentor
. Arne Duncan is President Obama’s Secretary of Education. He is the steam engine behind Race To The Top, the most restrictive educational philosophy this country has ever seen. RTTT would take all local control from schools and parents across the country and impose national curriculum standards in all schools. As Chief Executive Officer for Chicago Public schools he declared his animosity toward homeschoolers in an amended board report
in November of 2005.
… Parents/Legal guardians who choose to educate their children at home are subject to the provisions of the Illinois School Code. Those provisions include the Compulsory School Attendance Law, … parents/legal guardians who choose to educate their children at home must provide an education “at least commensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools.” … there must be an organized, coherent plan for educating the children in a home school using appropriate materials and teaching methods.” … Parents/Legal Guardians who choose to educate their children at home should notify their local school of their intention to homeschool. …
Once notified of the presence of particular home school or of particular home-schooled students within the boundaries of District 299, appropriate offices within the CPS will, with the cooperation of the parents/legal guardians, determine whether the home school provided an education at least commensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools. Such determination will thereafter be made on an annual basis.
CPS may employ any appropriate means, including site visits, to determine whether home schools are providing an education at least commensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools in the aforementioned subjects. CPS may also employ any appropriate standards and assessments in making that determination.
Remember that Race To The Top Standards, SB 21
, vouchers/tax credits, all have common threads of regulation and control that could reach into the homeschooling community. It is important to remind representatives that homeschoolers do not want to be included in any educational reform they have in mind for the coming year or in the future. We are following all state regulations concerning homeschooling and doing an excellent job of making educational choices for our own children and do not need or want the interference of government, state or federal.
Please contact Representative Dieckhaus and tell him you are watching the activity in the legislature and do not want any of the educational reform they have planned for public schools to reach into the homeschooling community and restrict your educational choices and freedoms.
Honorable Scott Dieckhaus
Missouri House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, Missouri 65101