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Homeschool registry plan divides Michigan parents: Voices that shape debate

dad and daughter doing school work on table
Michigan is one of 11 states that don’t require parents to notify the state or schools they are homeschooling children. Some lawmakers and officials want that to change. (iStock photo by PeopleImages)
  • Bridge Michigan readers are split on if they think a state count of homeschoolers is a good idea
  • Some say counting students helps the state ensure students are not being abused
  • Others fear a slippery slope to more government interference

Deb Hemmye says homeschooling her children for five years was “one of the best parenting decisions” and helped the family bond.

John Taylor says that “parental control of a child’s education, without state regulation or curricula and standards, is not education. It is indoctrination.”

They’re two voices that bookend the emerging, emotional debate about whether Michigan should count and register homeschool students. State Superintendent Michael Rice wants lawmakers to require counts of students who attend all types of schools — home, private, parochial and public.


“Having a record of all children enrolled in these four buckets would provide an understanding of the children not currently enrolled in any learning environment,” he wrote. 

Michigan is one of 11 states where parents are not required to notify anyone  that they are homeschooling their child, but the issue is coming to the forefront after Attorney General Dana Nessel and others pushed for more oversight after cases of child abuse involving homeschooled children.


Bridge Michigan’s Education Watch newsletter (sign up here) recently asked readers their thoughts on the debate. 

They have plenty of opinions. Here’s a sample:

Hemmye of Farmington Hills is the daughter of an elementary school teacher who says she homeschooled her son from second grade to sixth grade and her daughter from kindergarten to third grade.

She said the experience gave her children “many friends that lasted beyond our homeschooling years, and they (and I) learned to respect people's religious and other life choices. 

“Even while we were homeschooling, I was always thankful that we lived in an area with a strong public school system.  I've never voted against a school millage and I don't ever plan to.  There's room for both.  There's a need for both.”

She said counting students would not stop abuse. 

Taylor of Newago County said “parents do not always know what is best for their children.”

“There have been enough horror stories of abusive homeschooling parents to warrant a regulation that might let the state know if these children are even alive.

Clarence Goodlein of Luther in Lake County said most parents don’t want the state to tell them how to raise their children. He said he fears the count could evolve into “homeschool standards that most families could not meet.”

“State elected and appointed officials would do better if they believed that Michiganians were smart and well intended when it comes to the affairs of themselves and their families. Sadly, they seem unable to do so,” Goodlein wrote. 


Jan Erkenbrack of Twin Lake said he may be wrong, but worries that parents are homeschooling children to avoid learning controversial subjects or avoid mandatory vaccines. He said he doubts claims from parents who say they homeschool their children “to give a better education to their kids (because of) poor school performances.”

“The last seems to be a greatly flawed metric, as it appears that once a parent has removed their children from schools, there is no more required testing of them, and further testing is only done when those homeschooled students continue their education.”

John Haeussler of Hancock said he and his wife homeschooled their son and daughter for several years and don’t want “Lansing (particularly Nessel) sticking their nose into our homes.”

Anne Hope of Holt is a former teacher who said she wonders what homeschool parents opposed to the registry “have to hide.”

“We don’t even have basic state standards for it and anybody can call anything ‘third grade’ and it’s just fine. It’s crazy.”

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