Just in time for Mother’s Day, Alaska Dispatch published an article about Alaska’s home school law. Correspondent Tegan Hanlon entitled it: Alaska has one of the county’s loosest home-schooling laws. Possibly meant as an attack on independent homeschoolers across the state, as well as our law, she began her article with referencing how the law does not require any notification or registration and led that into an abuse/neglect case that has been playing out in the Anchorage area since December 2015. While she touched on the case, the remainder of the article consists of a brief history of the law and touting the correspondence and charter school enrollment.
As independently homeschooling parents, we need not cringe at articles such as this. As the author quoted Dan Beasley, (paragraph 16)
“vast majority of parents do an outstanding job teaching their children.”
And we do! The neglect case referenced in the article really has nothing to do with homeschooling. The parents weren’t schooling at all. Considering that the children didn’t even have Social Security Numbers, the chances of the parents ever registering or filing a notice of intent to homeschool are likely just as absent. You can read more about the case here and decide for yourself about the strange circumstances and how it really is not a home education case at all.
How can independently homeschooling families utilize this article that seems so bias? We can point out the one error, or misrepresentation, that wasn’t addressed. The author failed to point out that enrollment in a correspondence or charter school automatically equates a child to a public school student, even though the education may be happening at home and must adhere to state requirements. We can also use the author’s history of the law to illustrate why regulation is a bad thing. Under “Law beginnings” in paragraph 9, Ms. Hanlon quotes then-Senator Jerry Ward:
In minutes recorded during a committee hearing, then-Sen. Jerry Ward, an Anchorage Republican, said he agreed with the “elimination of the language that could allow the bureaucrats to become involved in homeschooling.”
How right he was! The correspondence programs have seen numerous changes, additions, and deletions of regulations over the years. The state bureaucrats are heavily involved in regulating the correspondence programs and state-funded home education! From dictating how much of an allotment can be used in what areas to allowing roll-over of allotments to requiring early-literacy testing for K through 2, they are actively involved in regulating their forms of “home”schooling and complying with federal education mandates as well.
Kudos to you, Ms. Tegan Hanlon, for publishing an article that shows just how great our state’s home school law is! Indepenedently homeschooling families aren’t trying to hide or live under the radar of authorities. We’re simply educating our children without adding undue stress to our already stressed out public education system. We’re working with each other, and often on our own, to provide our children with the best possible personalized education. We are what home schoolers “look like” in the rest of the United States.