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