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Letter to the editor
Gathering school data can be intrusive
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Forsyth County News


It sounds like a simple and reasonable request: Citing federal and state rules, the local public school system says parents whose children will not be returning next fall must submit official verification of their intent. (“Parents must verify student departures,” May 15). The Forsyth County superintendent cited the need for the system to obtain as accurate a student count as possible for planning purposes.

Unfortunately, as applied to home-schooling families, simple bureaucratic forays into data collection sometimes can be intrusive. In this case, those parents intending to become home educators must file a declaration of intent with the district. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, some school districts in Georgia have gone beyond the letter of the state law on “intent” paperwork and fished for a lot of personal information, such as e-mail addresses, parent’s drivers licenses, children’s birth dates, and any “special-education” label the child may take away from his stint in public school.

Maybe that isn’t what Forsyth officials have in mind. But why couldn’t they simply send home a survey to current families and politely ask them their plans for next school year? Then follow up with a pleasant phone call if the survey doesn’t come back? Wouldn’t that be nicer than threatening sanctions (such as loss of teen drivers’ licenses) against non-declaring families? But then perhaps bureaucracies don’t do “nice,” even in the South.

Robert Holland

Senor Fellow for Education Policy

The Heartland Institute


Editor’s note: The Heartland Institute is a libertarian think tank located in Chicago.