Home Schooling & Dropouts

Well, the Houston Chronicle published a story today on the continuing issue of Texas public schools who are reporting inordinately high numbers of students withdrawing to homeschool and the scrutiny being drawn because of the practice by some officials to do so to hide the dropout rate of the school.

The news report describes that Texas Education Agency (TEA) has audited several school districts that have reported numbers that do not seem to be consistent with percentages in other areas of the state, and the result was that documentation required was often not available. According to the article, TEA policy is to require a “signed statement from a parent/guardian or qualified student’ or ‘documentation of an oral statement by the parent/guardian or qualified student’ made within 10 days of the time the student quits attending school in the district, signed and dated by an authorized representative of the district’ noting that they intend to attend homeschool.” Audits of several schools in the Houston area showed that this policy was not being followed.

The Chronicle says, “Texas’ lax documentation and hands-off practices make it impossible to know how many of these students are actually being taught at home. It also opens the door to abuse of the designation, which could help school districts avoid the sanctions that come with high dropout rates, experts said.” This of course will lead some to argue, as Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Bill White seems to have done, that Texas needs more government regulation of home schooling.

The solution to public school officials falsifying or misreporting dropouts as home schoolers is to require auditing of suspected schools as the TEA appears to be doing and adding some sanctions or penalties for the practice that is not currently in place – not to add regulation to home schooling. This will apparently be a focus of the Texas legislature in the next session. We will be watching.