News Story

Slippery slope: State board members warn against homeschool registry

Two members offer pushback at plan, warn of unstated dangers

Two State Board of Education members spoke out recently against the Michigan Department of Education’s plans to seek a homeschool registry.

“This whole homeschool thing is quite disturbing,” said one of the trustees, Tom McMillin, a Republican, at the board’s Feb. 13 meeting. An eight-minute clip of the meeting, posted on X by @WallStreetApes, went viral.

McMillin believes the homeschool registry discussion has been disingenuous. He believes the registry is not the end game, but the beginning of a regulatory regime. At best it will check and approve homeschool curriculums. At worst, it will seek “unwarranted home entry” into homeschool families’ homes, and failing that, will “barge in and bust the door down,” he said

Michael Rice, the state superintendent, reiterated his January letter to lawmakers at the board table.

There is a history in Michigan and across the nation that some students get no education,” Rice said.

In the letter and at the table, Rice offered no statistics as to the scope of the problem, whether nationally or in Michigan.

Rice said every child in Michigan needs an “identified educational setting.”

“It’s going to go beyond registration,” McMillin said. “They’re either going to want to know exactly what’s being taught or want entry into the house. ... Registration is the next step and is not the only step.”

Molly Macek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center, agreed.

“A simple list of names with their form of schooling will do nothing to protect kids,” Macek told CapCon. “If safety is the goal, then a registry is just the first step in regulating homeschooling. Whether these regulations include curriculum verifications, home checks or other requirements, they restrict the parents’ right to ‘determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children.’” That language is from section 10 of the Revised School Code.

“Simply put, a homeschool registry and any additional regulations would restrict families’ educational freedom,” Macek said. “When parents choose to remove their kids from government schools to be educated outside the system, these kids are no longer under the government’s care.”

Nikki Snyder, also a Republican, echoed McMillin’s concerns.

Snyder called it oppressive to ask students and families who left the Michigan education system to register with the state.

“Students have a constitutional right and reasonable expectation of privacy,” Snyder added.

Snyder echoed McMillin in calling the early attempts at a registry disingenuous, calling the registry the beginning of an attempt to “audit the educational choices of every family in this state.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.