Does homeschooling in New Jersey make the grade?

    A New Jersey legislator wants to introduce stricter regulations for home-schoolers. But many families who teach their kids at home want to keep things the way they are.

    Pitman resident Jill Brett teaches her six children at home, they are between 18 months and 13 years old. “We got into home-schooling as a choice for our family mainly for character training, to teach hard work, to teach our personal values to our children,” said Brett.

    Right now, New Jersey home schooling families like Brett’s have full control over how or what they teach. Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle is proposing a bill that would keep tighter reins on home-schoolers. This comes in response to the death of an eight-year-old North Jersey girl who was home-schooled and died of maltreatment. The proposed legislation would also require families to submit proof of annual medical exams.

    Jill Brett says this tragic case does not represent home schooling families, and she says things are working well the way they are. “The state has given us a lot of freedom at what we can teach, at what time we can teach it, what grade level that is a freedom that not a whole lot of states have,” she said.

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    Pennsylvania, for example, requires parents to submit portfolios of student work. Delaware does not.

    Jay Doolan of New Jersey’s Principals and Supervisors Association says he generally supports tighter oversight of home-schoolers. “Knowing that there are growing numbers of students that are being educated at home, I’d probably like to see some minimal responsibilities that home schooling parents have to do,” said Doolan, “to connect with either the local city hall or the public school district.”

    He cautioned that such legislation was introduced before and didn’t go anywhere.

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