May 7, 2008

Homeschooling in the U.S.

I've noticed something disturbing about the homeschooling laws in this country. They vary state by state and we happen to live in a state that has pretty lax regulations. In a nutshell, we are required to submit a letter of intent at the beginning of the school year, attendance is 180 days per year and has to be submitted monthly, and a standardized test has to be administered after the 3rd grade and every 3 years afterwards. Technically we also have to do a year-end report but that doesn't have to be submitted to anyone, just kept on file if requested. That's the only homeschooling option in Georgia and it's not that bad if you ask me. Sure, I wish we didn't have to do anything at all but it could be much worse. And here is where I am seeing an issue. Since B is looking for a job and he's had to search out of state, every time he mentions a job he has applied for I go and look up the state laws. I am starting to get really angry at my options in some of these states. Here are two examples.

Virginia

There are three options for VA.

Option 1 is operate a homeschool with no attendance requirements, no subject requirements, and no record keeping. All good so far.

Qualifications

"Either: 1) possess a high school diploma, or 2) be a certified teacher, or 3) use an approved correspondence course, or 4) submit evidence parent can teach or 5) submit a curriculum that includes state objectives for language arts and math"


Notice

"File an annual notice of intent with local Superintendent by August 15; if starting or moving into the state after school year has begun, file notice as soon as practicable and comply with applicable requirements within 30 days of such notice"


Testing


"Administer a standardized test or have child otherwise evaluated every year (for those six years or older on September 30 of the school year); submit results to local superintendent by August 1"


O.k., so what is the problem? I have a high school diploma and I already submit a letter of intent in GA. The testing is a little bit more ridiculous because not only do I have to test them, but I have to submit the results. But those aren't the problem. Here is Option 2.

Operate a home school under the religious exemption statute"

The only requirement is under Notice.

"File request to acknowledge religious exemption with the local school board chairman"

There are no Attendance, Subjects, Qualifications, Record keeping, or Testing requirements at all. So, because I don't believe in some "god", I have all these requirements.

There is also an Option 3 for a private tutor. They have basically the same requires as the 2nd option but who can afford a private tutor? Not me.


Pennsylvania

PA also has three options and they are all more regulated so I'll just highlight the differences. Option 1 is for secular homeschoolers and details 180 days attendance, the subjects required, high school diploma, letter of intent, keeping a portfolio, and standardized testing. Option 2 is for a private tutor and option 3 is the religious "rules". Again, the last two have no Qualifications, Record keeping, or Testing requirements. So again, a secular homeschooler, has more regulations to be able to homeschool their children.

This really makes me angry. I don't want to live in a state where I will have different requirements than someone who believes in some "delusion" as Richard Dawkins calls it. (Delusion might sound harsh but his definition is not as negative as one might think.) I don't think Atheism should be a religion but in this case I wish it was. I've heard some pretty terrible things about homeschooling in PA anyway, so I have no plans to move there at all. But I wonder how many other states detail out their laws by groups? Obviously it would be much easier to not have to move at all since there are other issues involved with that, but I hope we can move to a state with much lower regulations. Arizona for example. Basically all they require is a letter of intent. This certainly makes job hunting a bit more interesting now doesn't it?

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