A Democrat in the Mississippi House of Representatives, John Hines, is sponsoring a bill that would force high schoolers who are homeschooled to take the same Mississippi history and U.S. government courses that public schools must teach.
The legislation, State Bill 188, states:
Comprehensive courses in Mississippi History and United States Government are required for all students to be administered between Grades 9 through 12. The Mississippi history course must provide students with an examination of the history of the State of Mississippi from the age of discovery and colonization to the present with particular emphasis on the significant political, social, economic and cultural issues of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which have impacted the diverse ethnic and racial populations of the state. Similarly, all private, parochial and home-based school programs shall provide the same curriculum requirements to students enrolled in Grades 9 through 12.
This would give the state authority to dictate what parents teach their children and how they teach it. Those rights belong with the parents who choose to homeschool, who generally make that choice because they want to set the curriculum that’s appropriate for their children free of state mandates. Whether or not homeschool families in Mississippi teach Mississippi history or government – and we know most do – that is the choice of the parents, not the state.
The Home School Legal Defense Association adds:
HB 188 appears to mandate specific curriculum requirements on homeschool programs. More specifically, it could require homeschools to teach particular courses in Mississippi History and United States Government that mirror courses taught in public high schools. While homeschooling parents embrace teaching History and Government, this bill gives the state the authority to dictate curricular content, which undermines parents’ freedom to tailor their child’s educational program.
The right and responsibility of parents to direct the education of their children is prior to the more general governmental interest in promoting and requiring education. The state ought not to compel homeschooling parents to teach specific course content developed by the state or teach subjects a certain way.
According to the Mississippi Home Educators Association, if you live in Mississippi, “You may choose the curriculum that best suits your children’s individual educational needs … Since repeal of the law in 1984, there are no state requirements for subjects that must be taught.”
The Mississippi Department of Education notes:
The law governs compulsory school attendance which requires a parent, legal guardian or custodian who has legal control or charge of a child age six (6) to seventeen (17) to enroll him/her in an education program (i.e. public, private or home school). Student enrollment must occur except under the limited circumstances specified in subsection three (3) of §37-13-91 which includes, but are not limited to, sending the child to a state approved, nonpublic, or educating the child at home in an organized educational program. July 1, 2003, the law was amended to include the following: a child, five (5) years of age, who enrolls in public kindergarten, will have to abide by the same guidelines as outlined in the §37-13-91.