Proposed Homeschooling Regulations for Michigan Families Could Create a Cascade Effect

Earlier this month, I was horrified to read of a woman in Detroit who murdered two of her children, and had been keeping their bodies in the freezer for well over a year.  It is tragic beyond words, and now, Michigan legislators hope to use the children’s deaths as an opportunity to tighten homeschooling regulations, as the children were said to be homeschooled.   Proponents of the new bill say it would simply require homeschool families to register with the state, and have an inspection by a social worker, police officer, or Physician two times per year.  The grandfather of the victims feels that legislation like this could have prevented the children’s deaths.  If children aren’t in school how can they know for sure that they haven’t been murdered?  (by the way, it was reported that some of the neighbors knew that she had murdered her children, yet remained silent)

But what about children who aren’t old enough to go to school?  should they be subject to twice yearly inspections?  What if there is a disabled adult in the home, or an elderly person who no longer works?  Without state inspections, how can we be assured of their safety?  What about people who have freezers big enough to store two bodies?  Or people who have kids and are taking Anti-psychotic medications (as this woman reportedly was).  It seems odd to limit the inspections to families who homeschool their children.

Michigan State Senator Pavlov, in his open letter to Michigan parents says that “this legislation would not have stopped Ms. Blair from killing her children. Blair was willing to break every law on the books, and routinely and effectively lied for years to hide her crimes.” He also says, “This tragic situation is not, and never was, however, a homeschooling problem.”

If this law is passed, this could quickly become a homeschooling problem.  At first glance it seems fairly innocuous, just register with your local school district, and have social worker pop in occasionally to make sure the kids are still alive.  However, this bill would bring to life policies that currently can’t be enforced, such as what material must be taught, how records should be kept, and the fact that anyone who wishes to teach their own children must have a teaching certificate or bachelors degree.  The many requirements (as well as the states ignorance of how homeschooling works) are outlined in a document from the Michigan Department of Education.  There is hope however.  Senator Pavlov says, “As the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee I wanted to write you today to assure you that this anti-parent legislation will not see the light of day in my Committee.”

I don’t have the words to describe my sorrow for the children, their family and friends, and especially their surviving siblings.  I just don’t want to see their death used as an opportunity for a power grab by politicians.

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