Education - Home Schools
- Aug 1, 2005 -
Until March 18, 2005, Utah was one of three states that required approval for home schools. The new law provides that a school-age minor is to be excused from attendance when an affidavit is filed by the parents that the child will be homeschooled. The law also makes it clear that the parent is in charge of the child’s education. The provisions of the law state that:
- The parent is solely responsible for the selection of instructional materials and textbooks, though the required subjects must be taught.
- The parent is solely responsible for the time, place, and method of instruction, though a child must be taught “for the same length of time as minors are required to receive instruction in public schools.”
- A school board may not require a parent to keep records of instruction or attendance.
- A school board may not require credentials for individuals homeschooling their children.
- A school board may not inspect homeschool facilities.
- A school board may not require standardized or other testing of homeschool students.
New Homeschool Law In Utah Passes Unanimously, (Home School Legal Defense Association), March 24, 2005
Home schooling is once again under fire in several state legislatures across the country. The following are a few examples:
- Both New Mexico and South Dakota filed bills that would force homeschool students to take state-selected standardized tests in the public school or under the supervision of a certified teacher. These bills violate a federal prohibition in the No Child Left Behind Act that forbids states to require homeschoolers to take the state assessment.
- New Jersey introduced a bill in 2004 that would give the state Board of Education virtually unlimited power to impose new restrictions on homeschoolers, force homeschoolers to take a state assessment based on public school curriculum and turn over private medical information to the public schools. The bill was defeated last year after hundreds of homeschoolers and HSLDA staged large rallies at the Capitol in opposition. It has been reintroduced at the beginning of the 2005 legislative season. HSLDA and New Jersey homeschoolers will fight hard to stop this bill.
- After Democrats took control of the House, Senate, and Governorship in Montana, a long-time anti-homeschool Senator filed one of the harshest bills we have seen for a long time. The bill would transform one of the best homeschool laws in the nation to one of the worst. It would require that homeschools be supervised by a certified teacher and monitored bi-annually by the school district. Among other restrictions, it would even prohibit the homeschooling of any child with developmental disabilities in spite of HSLDA studies proving that special needs students learn better in a homeschool setting. It also prohibits homeschooling by stepparents and legal guardians!
- An Oregon Senate bill turns the clock back by requiring families to submit a yearly notice and standardized test results to their local school district. The legislature had previously removed these requirements from the law. HSLDA Attorney Thomas Schmidt is working with the state homeschool association OCEAN to defeat this bill.
- Besides these legislative challenges, families are also facing major expansion of state jurisdiction over their children in Michigan, Wyoming, Hawaii, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, and Iowa. All seven of these states have introduced one or more bills expanding the compulsory attendance age in the state, thus requiring parents to comply with school regulations for longer periods of time. The goal of the teachers unions is to lower the mandatory school age to three years of age and raise it to at least 18 years old.
Adapted from Homeschooling Under Fire in 2005 Legislative Sessions, (Home School Legal Defense Association), February 8, 2005
Why are more than one million of the nation’s children homeschooled? According to the 2003 statistics from U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the reasons given by parents were:
- Thirty-one percent were concerned about the environment of other schools.
- Thirty percent said the most important reason was to provide religious and moral instruction.
- Sixteen percent cited dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools.
- Nine percent gave other reasons including family unity and individualized teaching.
- Seven percent said their child had a physical or mental health problem.
- Seven percent cited special needs of the child.
1.1 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2003—Table 2, (National Center for Education Statistics) [Accessed April 12, 2005]
In an Op-ed piece in the Washington Times, J. Michael Smith of the Home School Legal Defense Association gave several reasons why more and more children are homeschooled.
“Homeschoolers mix with a greater number of age groups and avoid the negative peer pressure of most institutional schools. It was no surprise that a study from the National Home Education Research Institute found that homeschoolers were more satisfied with their lives and more involved in the community than the average public school student.
“Homeschool success is not a new phenomenon. The vast majority of the Founding Fathers were homeschooled or received private one-on-one tutoring. The advantages of one-on-one tutoring are clear: no distractions and an environment where a child can learn at his or her own pace. So much more learning can take place in the home, which is the main reason homeschoolers score an average of 20 to 30 percentile points higher on standardized tests than public school students.”
J. Michael Smith, Op-ed — Over-Regulation Threatens Freedom, (Home School Legal Defense Association), February 28, 2004