In January, GSHE was asked three times for our best estimate of how many children are home educated. It didn’t seem odd given that the Department of Education typically releases enrollment numbers around the holidays. However, a few things make this stand out.
At the January 2024 HEAC meeting, the department representative asked everyone for their best estimates of home education numbers. He also reached out to GSHE separately, as we don’t have a representative on the council. It struck me as a little odd because the DOE compiles enrollment numbers as of October 1 each year for all pathways; they’re the ones that collect and maintain that data.
After observing public hearings, reading articles about various educational options, and seeing growing concern about tracking students, I fear home education will see hostile legislation.
I heard the DOE representative comment at HEAC meetings that families are not properly terminating their home education programs when enrolling in the EFA program as required in RSA 193-A:5 and RSA 194-F2.
The EFA oversight committee met in November and wants more reports and transparency.
A seacoast charter schools closed recently for improper enrollment accounting to the state and is being investigated by the Attorney General office.
These pressures could blow back on home education families to push annual notifications again.
New Hampshire ended annual notifications in 2012 because it was a responsibility not asked of public-school families; students are expected to return unless notified otherwise.
If government officials are concerned that EFA participants aren’t following requirements, they have the ability to urge better compliance with existing law.
If they are concerned that charter schools are improperly enrolling students or not reporting correctly, then there are existing mechanisms to support their boards and administrators to follow requirements more consistently.
Why drag home education into this problem? If there are concerns with EFA and charter school enrollments, then officials should go to those organizations to improve or reinforce accountability mechanisms that already exist. Why put more demands on families who aren’t in those programs?
The EFA program and chartered public schools receive state funding so I appreciate the concern with solid accounting practices. However, home educating families do not receive state funds, so shouldn’t be part of the push for more tracking.
Leave home education alone.
By Michelle Levell