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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ohio Home-Schooled Man Denied Job: The Value of a Home-Schooled Diploma

According to Ohio's Department of Education website, "Home-schooled students do not receive an Ohio high school diploma recognized by the State Board of Education." 

"When pursuing employment or advanced education, home-schooled students may need to complete the GED to show equivalence to a state recognized high school diploma," the website reads.

(Ohio Department of Education. 

The Controversy

Michael Donnelly, an attorney for Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), told that a young man in Ohio was offered a competitive job by the NiSource Energy Company. Then, the company did a background check on the man and decided to rescind the job offer after learning he had been home schooled.

The man, whose name has not been made public, had a home-schooled high school diploma and three years of relevant experience when he applied for the job, according to his attorney, who also noted he had completed seven college-level courses.

Donnelly claimed the energy company offered him the job and then changed its decision upon hearing he did not have an official high school diploma, which the company requires. 

Home-school diplomas are issued by parents, who often purchase them from organizations, such as his. He said his client did not opt to take the GED because "he's already completed his high school education" through home schooling.

Donnelly said he is working with state legislators to "recognize home-school diplomas as sufficient in demonstrating a child has completed a high school education." He also says NiSource did nothing illegal.

Donnelly stated, "They can do this. It’s just unethical and immoral. You’ve got this company excluding an entire class of people from employment. It's discrimination against home-schoolers."

NiSource said in a statement to Fox News that the company has hired qualified home-schooled candidates in the past and will continue to hire such candidates in the future.

("Company Rescinds Ohio Man's Job Offer After Learning He Was Home Schooled."
 Fox News. May 09, 2014)

My Take

This is much ado about nothing. The job applicant's own attorney admitted NiSource had acted within the law. The Ohio law is clear about the risks of employment for those who have been home schooled. The applicant could probably have taken the GED exam and gotten the job, but for the applicant, revoking the job offer was an insult and the controversy escalated. After all, NiSource reports they do hire the home schooled, and I assume this means those with a GED.

The formula for redress seems simple: 

(1) Do not blame NiSource for making a decision not to hire the young man, 
(2) Do not blame the applicant's misfortune on Ohio existing law, 
(3) Allow the applicant to take the GED, 
(4) If he passes the GED, allow the applicant to reapply for the position,  
(5) If you are Donnelly or someone who shares his views, fight to change Ohio law concerning employment and home schooling as a separate, but related, issue.

I do understand the wide variance of instruction in a home school education. Such an education can be a boon or a boondoggle depending upon the initiative, work, and integrity of the "certified teacher" (a person who holds a valid Ohio teaching certificate, excluding the certificate issued under section 3301.071 of the Revised Code), the student, the parent or guardian of the student, and the superintendent of the school district in which the student resides (the person who does the academic assessment report of the student). 

Understand that the parents or guardians who home school decide how to teach their daughter or son. They select the curriculum and educational materials and take responsibility for educating their child. There is no state financial assistance for families who choose this option.

For a child who is not a student in a public school of the school district, the district superintendent determines the appropriate grade level for a child.  Many parents think that on-line schools fall into the category of home schooling, this is NOT true.  Most on-line schools are considered Community/Chartered schools, these are still public schools.

(Ohio Department of Education.

Ohio Statutes for Ohio laws regulating home education state include the following:

A home-schooled student will complete a minimum of nine hundred hours of home education each school year. There must be assurance that home education will include the following, except that home education shall not be required to include any concept, topic, or practice that is in conflict with the sincerely held religious beliefs of the parent: 

(a) Language, reading, spelling, and writing: 
(b) Geography, history of the United States and Ohio; and national, state, and local government; 
(c) Mathematics; 
(d) Science; 
(e) Health; 
(f) Physical education; 
(g) Fine arts, including music; and 
(h) First aid, safety, and fire prevention. 

It is evident to anyone who understands the law in Ohio that the responsibilities inherent in home schooling are monumental. I do understand in some cases, these responsibilities are met and even greatly exceeded; however, I also understand in some cases, many of the charges for instruction are not met and are, at best, instruction is applied in a very haphazard manner. 

I base my opinion on my own experience as an Ohio educator. I have seen both the success and the miserable failure of home schooling projects. I have been asked on the last day of the school year to evaluate the home schooling work of a student, and I didn't even know the child or the particular circumstances concerning the stack of papers set upon my desk. It was a joke.

I have the college degrees and the experience required to teach home-schooled students, yet I realize my instruction would be greatly inferior in many of the required subjects. I could not in good faith take on this responsibility. I would not want my own loved ones to miss a public school education. That is not to say I would not want them to supplement a public school curriculum with added educational opportunities if they so desired. Enrichment programs and independent learning opportunities can be very beneficial.

Mr. Job Applicant, you were warned of the "letter of the law." You decided to be home schooled, and you rolled the dice concerning future employment. Although you and Michael Donnelly, who gets a paycheck for defending people with your beliefs, don't like the legality involved, I don't believe you should attack NiSource or the Ohio Department of Education. I believe you should "man up" on your particular job beef and take the GED. The "ball" is in your "court."

I remember getting my undergrad and graduate degrees with many others who dedicated huge amounts of time, money, and effort to acquire a piece of paper that certified our completion of a program that furthered our employment opportunities and raised our paychecks.

At times, we literally hated the required college classes we were forced to take, and sometimes we knew full well that some of those classes did little to improve our competency as teachers. We laughed (and cried) about taking them as part of an "initiation" or "conspiracy" of greedy universities, but we HAD to pass them to fulfill the requirements of the colleges and to fulfill the laws of our state.

I can't blame NiSource for questioning and even for denying a home-schooled individual a job. I would be wary. It is ashame the offer was made, then rescinded, but the company has that option to pursue if it feels it must, and, evidently, it felt it must in the unnamed applicant's case.

If NiSource is so immoral and unethical for doing this dastardly deed, why would the job applicant want to be employed there anyway? I say, "Buck up. Take it like a man. Quit whining at the wrong folks. And, then begin your campaign to change the law any way you see fit." By the way, good luck on that. Been there, done that, and I think you will soon find how frustrating acquiring political influence will be.

And lastly, I have one question for you, Mr. Applicant. Why do you remain unnamed? Something sounds a little irresponsible about that fact alone. If you have been home schooled with distinction, stand in front of your lawyer, not in the shadows behind him. Or, maybe this is all about using your misfortune to publicize an issue, not to report a miscarriage of justice.

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