HARTFORD, Conn. – A national homeschooling advocacy group is decrying a measure proposed by a Connecticut government task force that would allegedly require homeschoolers to undergo screenings to identify those considered to be “troubled.”
As previously reported, lawmakers in Connecticut proposed a bill last year that would have mandated mental health assessments for both public school and homeschooled children. The bill, which was likely in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, faced opposition from homeschool supporters and ultimately died in committee.
Now, homeschool advocates are raising red flags over a new proposal that calls for tighter scrutiny of Connecticut homeschoolers. The proposal, released by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, recommends that homeschool students with emotional or behavioral problems be forced to follow individualized education plans approved by state officials. Under the proposed standards, parents whose students fail to abide by the education plans could be stripped of their right to homeschool their children.
Supporters of this latest proposal say the new regulations would effectively address the emotional needs of homeschooled children.
“We have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are homeschooled,” said Dr. Harold I. Schwartz, a member of the advisory commission, according to the Connecticut Post.
One of the proposal’s authors, Susan Shmeiser, says the new regulations would allow the government to monitor students’ education “from birth to adulthood.”
“We need a holistic approach that will follow children from birth to adulthood,” Schmeiser stated, according to reports. “[Homeschooling] may not adequately address those children’s needs or help them develop the skills they will need to function in society.”
Dee Black of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) wholeheartedly disagrees, opining that the proposal is both alarming and inappropriate.
“The initial identification of troubled students could only be accomplished by mandatory mental health screenings performed on all homeschool students,” Black stated in a recent press release.
“There is simply no basis for the assertion that there is a connection between homeschooling and violence in public schools,” he contended. “The proposal by the commission appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to this tragedy without an examination of the educational history of the perpetrator, Adam Lanza.”
“To assert that there is any connection between homeschooling and violence in public schools is simply ludicrous,” Black also told WORLD Magazine. “There is no evidence to support this.”
In the release, HSLDA vowed to “vigorously oppose” the Connecticut task force’s proposal, which—if finalized—would be sent to the Connecticut legislature. According to the group, the task force’s recommendations are altogether uncalled for and would severely limit the freedoms of Connecticut homeschoolers.
“Home School Legal Defense Association will vigorously oppose any effort to subject homeschool students to mental health screenings and any attempt to deny parents the constitutional right to choose homeschooling as an educational option for their children,” Black wrote.