Home School or Diploma Mill?

For several years now THSC has dealt with a number of “home schools” that offer diplomas to those who who pay a fee of several hundred dollars and who take a simple test. Some of these so called schools allowed students to take the test home and return it within two weeks, pointing out in their marketing that few fail the test. One of these companies even stated that they were “accredited” by THSC. They removed that wording after receiving a letter from us.

Today these companies have their tests online and produce diplomas and transcripts for those who pay the fees and pass the exams. We have fielded phone calls from those who were victims of these scams and who were devastated when colleges and companies would not accept these “diplomas” as evidence of a high school education. Other students use these “diplomas” as a way to get out of high school and avoid truancy charges. THSC has received calls from school officials, public and private, seeking help regarding how to respond to this situation. We referred those people to the attorney general of Texas. Last week the AG’s office filed suit against some of these “home schools.” This is great news for two reasons: fundamentally, these “schools” are not home schools, and secondly, their actions have led to efforts by legislators to regulate legitimate home schools.

Last year during the legislative session, a legislator contacted us to let us know of his intent to deal with these diploma mills by adopting legislation to regulate them. He acknowledged that his legislation might well impact home schools as well as traditional private schools, but his intent was only to close the “loopholes” that allowed these scams to operate. Our response was to tell him that these companies did not meet the statutory definition of home schools and that we would oppose any effort to regulate home schools. Prosecution by the attorney general of Texas is the appropriate response and will help us keep private schools free of state regulation.