‘I felt disgusted.’ Ohio home-schooling leader stunned by parents using Nazi teachings – Chillicothe Gazette

Stack of school books and apple on desk in empty classroom

An Ohio home-school organization has blocked future online commenting by a woman accused of using and sharing a neo-Nazi-themed curriculum.

“She doesn’t need to be part of our group,” Debby Gerth, president of Ohio Homeschooling Parents, told the USA TODAY NETWORK Ohio on Tuesday.

The curriculum made national news in an online Vice News article that was based on a report published last week by the anti-fascist research group Anonymous Comrades Collective.

The Vice article claims a couple from Wyandot County created the “Dissident Homeschool” channel, a social media outlet that distributes pro-Nazi lesson plans to more than 2,400 subscribers worldwide.

Eric Landversicht, superintendent of Upper Sandusky Exempted Village Schools, condemned the teachings on Monday. The home-school organizer quickly followed suit.

“It surprised me a little that she wasn’t even hiding the fact that she wants to be a Nazi,” Gerth said. “She wants to raise Nazis.”

Debby Gerth, president of Ohio Homeschooling Parents

Gerth said that after reading the national article, she immediately searched her organization’s message boards for the woman’s name. She found a few comments where the woman had talked about living in The Netherlands and loving the Dutch language. Fortunately, nothing more.

“It was a benign comment, but we just removed all of it,” Gerth said.

She blocked the woman to prevent any neo-Nazi comments from being posted in the future.

“I felt disgusted,” Gerth said. “I was a little shocked that she was so blatant about it and that such attitudes can exist in our time.”

While she’s not Jewish, Gerth said she does have Jewish relatives. And she had just contemplated the atrocities of Nazism on Jan. 27 during International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“It’s disgusting at a heart-wrenching level that this exists in our society,” Gerth said. “It’s just gross that this is someone in our state trying to promote home education in this context, which goes against the whole reason home education was started.”

Home-school offers ‘a more individual education’

The home-schooling movement hit the Buckeye State in the late 1980s and has become increasingly more popular ever since.

Parents and guardians who wish to teach their children are required to follow state education laws, which Gerth said can be a little confusing at the beginning. That’s why she formed the statewide home-school support and information network, found on social media and at ohiohomeschoolingparents.com.

“We have over 19,000 members,” Gerth said.

Some are families who join are still considering the idea of home-schooling, but have not yet taken that step. Others have been doing home-school for years. A few are even second-generation home-school students who are being taught by parents who were home-schooled themselves.

Home-schoolers in Ohio come from a variety of religious and political backgrounds.

“A lot of it is people who are dissatisfied with the school system in general, who maybe want their kids to have a more individual education,” Gerth said. “The schools try hard, but they can’t really provide the individual education that home-schooling can.”

Another popular support group for home-schoolers, Christian Home Educators of Ohio, offers a few online tips for curriculum selection.

“Research different curriculum options to decide what approach would work best for your circumstances,” the website reads. “Consider your student’s learning style, as well as the makeup of your family and financial situation.”

The site suggests that home-school families gather educational materials from other local home-schoolers, libraries and used book sales.

Students are evaluated after each school year

Those who want to teach a child at home can navigate the steps independently or they can get help from an organization like Home Schooling Parents.

Either way, they have to follow state education requirements. The process starts each year with a notification to the local school district that a student will not be coming to school and will instead be taught at home.

The superintendent needs an assurance the student will receive 900 hours of education and be taught by someone who is qualified.

Finally, the district must be given an outline of the intended courses of study for the year and a list of what books will be used − this step, though, is “for informational purposes only.”

“There is no approval process of our curriculum in Ohio,” Gerth said. “That’s one of the blessings of home education, is that we can individualize it to our children and their needs.”

The lesson plans and textbooks, however individualized, must lift every student in Ohio to at least a standard level of education by the end of year.

“It’s called the annual assessment,” Gerth said. “There are basically three options, but there are two that most home-schoolers use.”

The first option is for a child to take and pass a standardized test that proves their proficiency. The second is for a state-certified teacher to review a portfolio of schoolwork the student completed throughout year. The final choice, which Gerth said is rarely used, is for the local superintendent to tailor an individual assessment of the student.

No restrictions on what ideas Ohioans may share

Beyond ensuring a minimum level of learning, the state has no further regulation.

Gerth said once the day’s classes are complete − whether they are taught in public school or at home − parents in Ohio are free to tell their children whatever they would like.

“For good and bad,” Gerth said. “People can unfortunately use that for evil.”

At her home, she and her children read the Bible together after school. In other homes, things may be drastically different.

“I don’t know how you could police that anyway,” Gerth said. “How could you do that in someone’s home? There’s the Fourth Amendment. You can’t just search people’s homes for what they might teach.”



Twitter: @zachtuggle

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