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OP-ED | Sandy Hook Commission Homeschool Proposal: Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken

by | Nov 14, 2014 3:16pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Education, Opinion, Public Safety, State Budget, Youth Journalism, Newtown, Mental Health Care

EDITOR’S NOTE: Introducing Camden Archambeau, a 13-year-old student writer and thinker in Sarah Darer Littman’s essay class at the Writopia Lab.

shutterstock In the wake of the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 people were killed by Adam Lanza, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy formed a commission to review and reform policy regarding public safety, especially on school safety, gun violence, and mental health.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s recent draft proposal on mental health includes the evaluation of homeschooled children with “significant emotional, social or behavioral problems,” and the creation of Individual Education Plans (IEP) for homeschooled students that fall under this category.

When parents remove their kids from the school system, people often think it is because their kids are “different” or socially challenged. This stereotype was exacerbated by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Adam Lanza was indeed homeschooled and clearly had significant emotional problems, but does this one instance call for additional regulation?

Families might take their kids out of the system because the student wants to go at different pace than the rest of the class, because the parent isn’t satisfied with the student’s education, or for any number of other reasons.

Parents with special needs students often remove their child from the school system because the special education system has failed them. They shouldn’t have to be brought back into the very system that has let them down with the creation of an IEP. They chose homeschooling in order to have complete control over their child’s education.

Adam Lanza was homeschooled during his last two years of high school, meaning that most of his education occurred in a classroom environment. With this in mind, is it even reasonable to classify him as a homeschooler?

Lanza was only one of a number of young people in the past decade to perpetrate a mass shooting. None of the shooters in the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting, at Virginia Tech, in Isla Vista, or more recently in a public high school in Marysville, Washington were homeschooled. Yet one homeschooler gruesomely kills 26 people and and Connecticut is racing to install new legislation? These proposed policies are a knee-jerk reaction to the atrocities committed by one person due to public pressure. Additional costly bureaucracy to regulate a small population doesn’t make sense.

We have a responsibility to maintain public safety and additional resources for mental health and mental health patients is a step in the right direction. But besides the roughly 5,000 homeschooled kids in Connecticut, there are 784,000 kids under the age of 18 in Connecticut, a far more significant population. Before we start creating costly new programs to regulate kids who aren’t part of the public school system we should focus on children whose education is controlled and funded by the state.

The state of Connecticut currently owes $687.6 million to public schools and now it’s thinking about shelling out money it doesn’t have? Connecticut should focus its resources on fully funding school systems such as Bridgeport, Hartford, West Hartford, and Waterbury, which are are underfunded by an overwhelming $252.6 million. With this kind of debt to the schools, Connecticut should work on its own students, its own schools, its own resources, before trying to fix what isn’t broken.

Camden Archambeau is 13 and has been homeschooled for two years. He is an avid debater, an accomplished cellist, chorister and competitive swimmer. Camden also enjoys rock collecting, and learning about history.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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(4) Archived Comments

posted by: Stingy Blue | November 14, 2014  3:54pm

The primary societal cost of homeschooling, in my view, is that it deprives public school students of the benefit of sharing a classroom with the students that are privately educated.  Educational reform-speak calls this the “peer effect” - that if a student attends a school with high-achieving peers, they are more likely to have high achievement themselves.  (I subscribe more the philosophy that each additional student and family adds to the diversity and richness of the school experience.)  Students that are homeschooled tend to have parents that are (obviously) intimately involved in their children’s education.  Generally speaking, as parental participation increases, a virtuous cycle is created where families that are particularly committed to robust education for their children choose public school, which in turn further increases the strength of the public school system.  Homeschooling breaks this cycle. Or, put another way, it seems a great shame to me that the other students in Camden’s school district are deprived of his company.

posted by: dano860 | November 15, 2014  5:33pm

It only takes “one” to rock the knee jerk boat. In another State one member of a non Christian religion wanted their holiday on the school calendar for a day off. What did the school board do? Removed ALL of the mentions of specific holidays…they will still close the schools but not for a specific holiday.
One person complains about a display on public property at Christmas and everyone is banned from displaying anything.
Knee jerk reaction. Did they means test it? Did they consider any un intended consequences?
The same lack of caring for the many was the result of our legislatures reaction for the few. Many of whom didn’t want the actions taken but that didn’t stop them.

posted by: GBear423 | November 17, 2014  7:34am

GBear423

Homeschooling has a stigma that does not accurately reflect the reality.  My daughter is homeschooled, initially this was due to racism.  her peers would call her names, push her, and then the last straw was a couple of children approached her in the cafeteria and spat in her lunch tray. She was crushed by that experience.
Now my daughter spends alot of quality time w her mom, and at least 3 days of the week they meet with other homeschool families and participate in a learning environment.  It varies, places such as libraries, museums, zoos or animal refuges, and often at a community college. She has friends and has social interaction, there is even a Dance and other events we can attend.
I agree with the writer, this is not a homeschool issue with the Sandy Hook Tragedy. This is definitely a mental health issue and the accessibility a troubled man had to fire arms.
I think the lesson we can learn as Parents, is to not underestimate our children’s mental health needs. If they are troubled, its time to stop what you are doing, and make that child your number one priority.

posted by: shocked | November 17, 2014  1:56pm

Camden, Kudos to you for a well written article. And welcome to the real world. It is not about homeschooling, or protecting the people, or whatever other nonsense reason was given. 

@ “Stingy Blue” - you are way off.  WAYYY.  Of all of the school issues whether or not a few home school is the absolute least concern. And frankly it is not a concern or issue or “societal cost”, it is a most likely a net positive.  Perhaps you may want to reread the article.

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