Hundreds of home schooling advocates overwhelmed a public hearing Monday on a bill that would regulate home schooling throughout Connecticut.

The throngs of parents, many with their children, spilled from the hearing room into at least two adjacent rooms, where the hearing was shown on televisions.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Cameron Staples, D-New Haven, is aimed at making sure all children receive an education that meets certain standards, and would put school superintendents in charge of deciding whether individual plans met those standards.

“The number of children being home schooled is increasing, and there’s no way to know if they’re receiving an equivalent education,” he said. “I’m sure all the people here follow the rules, but there’s no way to verify.”

There are about 5,000 children being educated at home in Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Home Schooling Association.

Among the provisions of the bill: Parents would have to file a notice of intent annually; parents would need at least a high school diploma; and academic progress would be reviewed annually by a superintendent.

School superintendents who favor the bill say that the problem is not with those who are actually educate their children, but with those who abuse the present laws.

“I’m really here to protect those students I don’t think are getting adequate instruction at home,” Montville Superintendent David Erwin said.

Proponents of home schooling call the bill intrusive and unnecessary.

“It’s definitely an invasion of our privacy and our right to educate our child,” said James Hill of Hamden, a product of home schooling who is teaching his four children. “I’d rather be busy educating our children than reporting to an agency that doesn’t.”

–Associated Press