(The Center Square) – One Michigan lawmaker wants to require the registration of home-schooled children.
Rep. Matt Koleszar, a Plymouth Democrat on the Michigan House Education Committee, wrote on social media: “Michigan is one of only 11 states that doesn’t count or register homeschooled children, and abusive parents are taking advantage of that to avoid being found out.”
“It’s time to support all Michigan students and change that. Michigan cannot allow this loophole to continue,” he wrote.
The proposal follows Attorney General Dana Nessel’s charging of four adoptive parents with 35 child abuse crimes allegedly hidden by a homeschool family near the Flint area who was accused of profiting from adopting children.
“Children who end up in our foster care or adoption systems are often already coming from unbelievably vulnerable situations and deserve our utmost care,” Nessel said in a statement.
Nessel said the two families fostered at least 30 children for financial gain.
“These egregious allegations highlight not only a moral and legal failure of those entrusted with the children’s care, but a failure in our systems to ensure children placed in custody are properly taken care of,” Nessel said.
Israel Wayne, the Michigan Information Network for Christian Homes network’s vice president, said in a phone interview they oppose the registration of homeschooling families because it won’t protect children and it doesn’t improve academics.
“We believe the reasons they are suggesting for why homeschooling needs to be registered are fallacious,” Wayne said in a phone interview. “They are claiming that registering homeschoolers in a government database will protect children from physical harm and also that it might help improve their academics.”
Michigan State Superintendent Michael F. Rice asked lawmakers to enact the state registration in a Jan. 10 letter.
“Knowing where all children are enrolled in an educational setting is an issue of student safety, neither more nor less,” Rice wrote.
Rice encouraged counting students in public, private, and parochial schools to identify children enrolled in no education.
Rep. Jaime Green, a Richland Republican homeschool mother, opposed the homeschool registration idea.
“It’s crucial to avoid a blanket assumption that all homeschooling families are abusing children,” Green posted on social media. “Open dialogue and understanding leads to more effective solutions without unfairly stigmatizing a group of dedicated and responsible parents.”
The disagreement follows as Democrats hold the Senate and the governor’s seat but face a 54-54 deadlock in the House, meaning they can’t pass bills without a Republican vote until two vacant seats are filled.