In February, the Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) was made aware of an upcoming event to be hosted at Harvard University titled “Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform.” Our Government Affairs Team has spent the past month reviewing the upcoming event and the potential impact. 

This event, to be held at an undisclosed location with participation by invitation only, promises to “convene leaders in education and child welfare policy, legislators and legislative staff, academics and policy advocates…” It will focus “…on problems of education deprivation and child maltreatment that too often occur under the guise of homeschooling, in a legal environment of minimal or no oversite.” 

Yes. You read that correctly. 

This summit is set to discuss “maltreatment” and “educational deprivation.” 

The summit is being organized in part by Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who recently recommended: “a presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.”

Homeschool friends, it is as clear as can be here—homeschooling is under attack; your parental rights and freedoms are under attack! 

While the Harvard Summit gained widespread attention this past week due to a post by our friends at HSLDA, Harvard Summit to Discuss Regulating Homeschooling, the attack on homeschooling is nothing new. We’ve been talking about it for years.

IAHE’s Senior Policy Analyst, Alison Slatter, shared about the threats to homeschooling and the organizations behind them at our 2020 Home School Day at the Capitol in January. Last month we asked her to update her presentation for the 35th Annual IAHE Home Educators’ Convention that was scheduled for this last weekend. As you know, circumstances dictated otherwise. 

Indiana is a GREAT state for homeschool freedom, but that can change at any moment. The organizers of the Harvard Summit have worked across the country for years to push the agenda that homeschooling is dangerous. This Massachusetts-held summit hits closer to home than you might realize as Dr. Rachel Coleman and Professor Robert Kunzman both hail from Indiana University and are on the list of featured speakers. 

The threat to YOUR parental rights and homeschool freedom is real, even in Indiana. At the prompting of our opponents, the mainstream media increasingly promotes the false narrative that homeschooling is a bad educational option, or worse-yet, abusive.

In April of 2019, I spoke with a reporter with Chalkbeat Indiana about the practice of public schools pushing out “problem” students to homeschooling. After months of investigation, Chalkbeat published a report in September of 2019 that garnered widespread attention by exposing the fraud taking place across the state. In October of 2019, I was a part of an NPR radio broadcast that sought to dig deeper into the dropout issues from the Chalkbeat investigation. Instead of focusing on the fraud that had been uncovered and the broken metrics for public school funding, the media’s narrative shifted to a story about a “lack of homeschool regulation.”

In January of this year, homeschool opponents pushed their narrative again under the guise of a “listener’s question” submitted to a national NPR show 1A: How Should We Regulate Homeschooling? The program’s content was as biased as the title suggests. 

Since the first of the year, public schools across the state began reporting families that withdrew their children to home education to CPS. Numerous parents reached out to us, scared and emotional from the trauma of facing unfounded charges of “educational neglect” within days of bringing their children home.

Abuse and neglect should never be tolerated. The lives of all children are precious and should be protected. In an article on IAHE Action’s website, Loving the Vulnerable, published January 25th, our team addressed this topic as we faced a bill that targeted homeschool families. Decades of study and research have identified the risk factors for child abuse, and educational methodology is not one of them. Homeschooling is not abuse.

The threat to YOUR parental rights and homeschool freedom is real and it’s growing.

The IAHE, along with our sister organization IAHE Action, has been talking about these challenges for years. We can not be complacent. 

Right now, in the spring of 2020, with a country stuck at home “doing school”, the entire world thinks they understand homeschooling. While we welcome families to explore our little corner of the world, we know that what is happening at this moment in time is NOT what homeschooling looks like. We are a nation operating under severe restrictions and what our children are experiencing today is crisis-schooling at home. 

Soon, the world will resume its course, and we know that these threats to home education will resurface. The Harvard Summit is only the most current event in years of challenges to homeschooling.

Since 1983, the IAHE has worked to Support, Encourage, and Protect homeschool families in Indiana. Alongside other state organizations and our friends at HSLDA, NHERI, and more, we work all year long to defend your parental rights and homeschooling freedoms. Now, more than ever, the IAHE needs your support.