Homeschool regulation by public schools is unnecessary

Some people wonder why advocates of school choice balk at the mention of homeschool regulation by the state. In most cases, parents who choose to homeschool their children do so in order to provide them with an individualized education that is superior to what they could have received in an overcrowded classroom entangled in bureaucratic red tape. To ask them to submit to regulation by the very public school districts they chose to leave, school districts which in many instances are failing, makes no sense. If anyone has the best interests of a child at heart, it is their parents. Here are a few examples of bureaucracy gone wrong with respect to homeschool regulation.

Virginia student too advanced

In Richmond, Virginia, a school official demanded that a young boy take a different standardized test to measure his progress from this school year. The boy, who had advanced quickly through his studies this year, scored in the top 25 percentile on a third grade standardized test. The problem, in the eyes of the school district, was that the boy should have taken a second grade test.

It is not uncommon for homeschool students to advance more quickly through grade levels than their public school peers. My own kids averaged two years of curriculum each school year and are now two grades ahead of the public school peers from their kindergarten class. To force a child to take a standardized test at a lower grade level when they have already demonstrated proficiency at a higher level is redundant and ridiculous.

Oregon student too early

A student in Albany, Oregon faced a similar situation just a few years ago. This student completed the 5th grade standardized test upon request of the local school district. At age nine, the child scored in the 93rd percentile. Unfortunately, the school district refused to accept the score, stating that children are not allowed to test early.

State law mandated that homeschoolers to submit standardized test scores upon request. It was not the fault of the parents that the school requested the test three years in advance. With legal representation, the student’s parents were able to show the school district that they were indeed allowed to advance their child and test early under Oregon law, so the student did not have to take the 5th grade standardized test again.

Colorado student too disabled

The state of Colorado recognizes homeschooling as “a legitimate alternative to classroom attendance for the instruction of children.” Parents are required to give notice of their intent to homeschool and submit attendance and evaluation results to school district officials upon request. However, in Longmont, Colorado, school officials attempted recently to reject one family’s notice of intent to homeschool their daughter.

The reason the district refused to allow the girl, who was suffering from anxiety caused by the public school environment, to homeschool was that she had a learning disability. Her parents contacted the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for help, and the matter was resolved quickly. According to HSLDA attorney, Mike Donnelly, “Unfortunately, many education professionals believe that they are the only ones equipped to properly teach children-especially those who have learning disabilities.”

Cutting through red tape

Many states have realized that the bureaucracy and red tape necessary for running institutionalized schools need not be applied to homeschoolers. Homeschoolers thrive just as well in states with no regulation at all as they do in states with heavy involvement from the state. Not only does reduced regulation allow homeschoolers to learn in an individual manner, often at a quicker pace than their peers, it saves school districts money by freeing officials to concentrate on their own students.

In Virginia, new legislation was passed just this year to limit how much information homeschoolers must provide to the local school officials. Beginning July 1, school districts will be limited to strict guidelines regarding the curriculum descriptions they may request from homeschoolers. This is a positive step which will help preserve the freedom of residents in that state to educate their children as they see fit.

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