Guest Commentary: Ohio Public Schools Under Attack as Lack of Accountability Allows Nazi Homeschooling Scandal

"Where is the Republican outrage over the reputed indoctrination of young minds in Ohio to the finer points of Nazism?"

Feb 7, 2023 at 11:59 am

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima. - Photo: The Ohio Channel
Photo: The Ohio Channel
Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima.

Public education is in the crosshairs of book-banning, speech-censoring bullies, and private school zealots draining public school dollars. Missing in the DeSantis shuffle and campaigns to privatize education is any correlating interest in how the vast majority of publicly educated students in this country learn, develop, grow and achieve.

Some 90% of Ohio kids attend public schools. Their districts are routinely starved for funds, teachers, equipment and sound facilities. But the educational welfare of those students is not what motivates Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman’s education agenda. What drives the Lima Republican is political control.

He wants it over education policy without interference from Ohio voters or the Ohio Board of Education members they elected. That’s why he’s pushing to transfer most of the duties of the board to an unaccountable, unelected political appointee in the governor’s office with Senate Bill 1. Huffman’s disdain for public accountability and oversight in education was evident when he downplayed the explosive news of Nazi homeschooling in Ohio.

His concern was less about Ohio children being reportedly indoctrinated with racist, antisemitic and homophobic curricula and more about political fallout. “I hope, frankly, that people will not try to take some political advantage or policy advantage,” said the senate leader, who hopes to take political advantage over education policy.

Nothing to see here, he implied when asked about the Ohio-based homeschooling network purportedly disseminating neo-Nazi propaganda and hate-filled lesson plans to a flourishing online community of like-minded Nazi parents. According to bombshell media reports, a northwest Ohio couple had secretly been running an organization known as “Dissident Homeschool” to share “Nazi-approved” curriculum via a Telegram channel since October 2021.

The stunning revelation raised obvious questions about the need for stricter homeschool regulations in the state — which Huffman dismissed outright.

“Basically trying to decide that a couple of sociopaths somewhere in Ohio who are doing strange things, that that somehow should affect policy and the rest of the state” was somehow preposterous to Huffman. The senate president has more pressing priorities — like squeezing public education to subsidize parochial schools — than getting to the bottom of a homegrown Hitler brigade allegedly corrupting homeschooled students in Wyandot County.

Where is the Republican outrage over the reputed indoctrination of young minds in Ohio to the finer points of Nazism and white nationalism? Or is MAGA indignation only reserved for “woke” lessons on phantom menaces (CRT) not being taught to children? The home-educated students in the Upper Sandusky Exempted Village Schools District were apparently learning to denigrate African Americans, celebrate Adolf Hitler and the Sieg Heil salute.

The husband-and-wife pair who allegedly grew their pro-Nazi homeschool community on the popular messaging app to more than 2,500 members evidently spent years developing fascist coursework and toxic syllabuses to properly rear a child who “becomes a wonderful Nazi.” The rot reportedly peddled from Upper Sandusky as “primarily resources for curriculum recommendations for elementary-aged children” operated under the radar until the media exposed it.

If not for reporting by Vice News, Huffington Post and initial investigation by a hate group monitor, the apparent use and distribution of pro-Nazi homeschool materials might still be going on in Ohio. That’s a problem. Over 51,000 students are home-educated in a largely hands-off state okay with absurdly weak homeschooling regulations compared to public schools.

Parents who homeschool are only required to submit an annual Home Education Notification Form to the superintendent of their home district. That form will either excuse their child from school attendance or not. Homeschoolers must confirm compliance with state homeschooling requirements, which include a minimum of 900 hours of instruction in core academic disciplines “unless the topic or practice conflicts with the religious beliefs of the parent.”

Yearly homeschooling requirements also cover “a brief outline of the intended curriculum” and “a list of teaching materials” for students. The submitted notification to home educate with background information and academic assessment reports must be reviewed by the superintendent “within 14 calendar days.” Excusal from school attendance is not guaranteed.

“If a superintendent finds the parent’s notification to instruct a child at home has not been submitted, is incomplete or does not comply with the laws” the child’s absence from school would be investigated and truancy laws enforced. So what went wrong in Wyandot County?

Did the parents who reportedly operated a Nazi homeschool bent on indoctrinating grade schoolers to dehumanize Blacks and Jews pass muster with the superintendent of the Upper Sandusky district as mandated by law? Did Eric Landversicht ever receive, review and sign off on a completed notification form from the identified neo-Nazi homeschoolers?

The superintendent wouldn’t say. In a statement, he called the allegations about the social media channel created by fascist homeschoolers in his district “egregious” but claimed state and federal privacy laws prohibited him from discussing the case and even affirming receipt of notification or whether he responded to it.

“I cannot address whether a particular family submitted a Homeschooling Notification Form, the contents of such Form, or whether I excused a particular student from compulsory education mandate,” he emailed the Ohio Capital Journal.

So much for the public’s right to know what’s going on in their school districts and what young Ohioans are being taught — besides which books they can’t read or what history they can’t learn or what resources they can’t have because of depleted funds.

This commentary was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.

Coming soon: CityBeat Daily newsletter. We’ll send you a handful of interesting Cincinnati stories every morning. Subscribe now to not miss a thing.

Follow us: Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter