What is the status quo for homeschooling freedom?

I didn’t realize that Chris Klicka/HSLDA spoke at the school board hearing on new and invasive DC homeschool regs.  Didn’t think about it much actually, but it is just a hop, skip and jump from their Virginia digs.
I ran into this today in Catholic Online as I was avoiding pulling weeds in my garden.  It appears to be from HSLDA and written by Chris Klicka:

HSLDA Attorneys’ Defense of Parents Before the D.C. School Board 

WASHINGTON, DC (HSLDA) – For the last 23 years I have worked as Senior Counsel at the Home School Legal Defense
Association. When I began in 1985 it was only legal to homeschool in about five states.

Is that true?  IL, TX, CO, VA, OK, CT, CA…that’s at least seven states that I thought had the natural right to homeschool in their states before 1985.  What other states?  I thought the exception would be those that did not allow homeschooling (if there were any), rather than 45 states before 1985.  Just because it’s not specified in a law doesn’t cause us to be breaking a law practicing our natural rights.  Otherwise, we could be in prison for not being within Farmer Bob’s weeding specifications.  Continuing from Mr. Klicka:

However, after many court cases and legislative battles, we were able to win the right to homeschool throughout the United States.As a result, I am very acquainted with the homeschool laws and cases in the 50 states,and I know what works and what does not.

If Mr. Klicka is very acquainted with Illinois homeschool law (we don’t have one), then why don’t they change the IL legal analysis on the HSLDA site?  I understand that the IL Christian Home Education group asked them nicely to take out the 176 days regarding Required Days of Instruction.  There’s more questions I have about the analysis, but I’ll stop with that today.

There were 2 requests from HSLDA regarding DC’s new (and did I mention, invasive) homeschool law.  The first was to amend language so that there wasn’t an "arbitrary discretionary power to require anything it wants on the form".  The form being homeschool notification, as I read it.  There was also acknowledgment that " Virginia does not require a state form and Maryland dictates what is on the form in order to avoid vagueness".  No form is a good place to start.

The 2nd request is what got my rapt attention. 

2. Section 5205.1 requires parents to maintain a portfolio of homeschooling materials, which is not a problem. Such a requirement is common in other states,however, what is not common is that the current proposed D.C. Regulations require that this portfolio be “made available for review by the OSSE upon written request.”

A law requiring parents to maintain a portfolio of homeschooling materials is a problem.  I found the narrow directive from the DC board,  with HSLDA approval, that a portfolio is necessary isn’t a blasé affair.  Other wording, in this carefully written HSLDA document would have been preferable in my book.
Whether it is common in other states is irrelevant in order to protect homeschooling freedoms.  Ohio, for instance, requires a portfolio of sorts, with
an outline of the current year’s  intended curriculum, along with an annual list of textbooks, correspondence courses, commercial curricula, or other basic teaching materials that the parent intends to use for home education. 
On the other hand and with the wish that all other states had this type of family freedom, Illinois has no portfolio requirements for homeschoolers.  IL homeschoolers have proven educational success records.  I would hope that would be a status quo to maintain for homeschooling freedoms.  Then, those who keep tidy portfolios, along with the many who do not keep portfolios of their children’s work except on their refrigerator (in a handmade seashell frame from vacation Bible school) will all be on the same level of family accountability.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I surely like the way we can solely focus on
our children learning, rather than who from, how and where they learn.

Now, I’m back to weeding with a vengeance.

“The Right Balance”


What is the status quo for homeschooling freedom? — 3 Comments

  1. Hi Susan,

    I know people who did homeschool in Ohio before our present regulations who were not hassled. Not that some weren’t, they were and the superintendents across the state were often inconsistent. The purpose of our regs give a clue as to why they were written, the purpose reads:

    “The purpose of the rules in this chapter is to prescribe conditions governing the issuance of excuses from school attendance under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, to provide for the consistent application thereof throughout the state by superintendents, and to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). Home education must be in accordance with law.”

    They are to provide a guideline for a consistent application of excuse from compulsory attendance by the superintendents, because cases were popping up before 1989 and judges told the legislature they wanted that to change. The long story short is that an Ad hoc Committee was formed that was comprised of all sorts, homeschoolers, private schoolers and public ed folks. They come up with what we have now in the Ohio Administrative Code and those regulations expound on that older law in the Ohio Revised Code.

    One important point I’d like to clarify in case someone new from Ohio is reading along, the outline and/or list is not something a superintendent can pass academic judgment on. It is really important for families to understand that. The regs clarify with the words, “for informational purposes only.” Here is a fact sheet that was written on the subject of notifying here a few years ago from OHEC on minimal compliance.

    I agree that the right to home educate is a fundamental one. I think we also have to learn the laws of our state so that we can decide if we are going to comply with them, or if we choose not to, what the consequences might be.

    Something that makes our portfolio option really different from the one in the new D.C. regs is that a superintendent MAY NOT ask to see our child’s work or portfolio. We send them a notification of our intent to homeschool and provide the information requested in the regs, a brief outline for informational purposes and IF it is a subsequent year, we include either the composite score only to a nationally normed test, or an assessment form signed either by a certified teacher or someone else mutually agreed upon between us and the superintendent that indicates that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities.

    I know that even this above sounds intrusive to your ears, but to us, it is important that families know they don’t have to do any more than required and that no superintendent nor school representative ever has to see their child, nor review their work to homeschool.

    It is important that they understand the superintendent is obliged to comply with the rules in the same way that we are.

    Another important point in Ohio from our rules reads: The parent(s) shall affirm the information supplied with his or her signature prior to providing it to the superintendent. We affirm the information that we have provided via our signature. These are pointers that help families to understand it is their right to choose this option and are not under the whim of the supers approval. We do not seek approval, we notify of our intent and if we follow the law, the superintendent must comply with the law as well and excuse the child from compulsory attendance, no matter what his opinion of homeschooling might be.

    I know that in a state where there are no guidelines this sounds like a lot, but I want to make sure that families really understand that they don’t have to do more than is required by law and a superintendent may not ask for more than is required. Sometimes they do try and it is up to us to know these laws and help others to know them as well as if not better so that they can’t intimidate us.

    One more interesting note is that when I wrote about the proposed regs in D.C. and the comparison chart they listed at the D.C. State Board, Stephanie pointed out in a comment that there was a mistake made concerning the VA regulations. You can read her comments below my post here: http://www.tiprr.com/blog/?p=128#comments

    Thanks again for the great post and opportunity to share.


  2. Thanks for your good points (about knowing the state law) and clarifications, Mary.
    I should also own up to the fact that some IL families (in at least a couple of regions) are harassed by their Regional Offices of Education. One ROE requires homeschoolers to show up at Truancy Review Board hearings on a regular basis.
    So it doesn’t matter how legally helpful homeschooling freedoms are in a state, if they’re not fulfilled. It’s a good start to have minimal state statutes/laws for homeschoolers though.
    Thank you for clarifying OH law with the important fact that the book list/outline is not for school ‘academic judgment’. It’s an important point. Even as I wish you all in Ohio did not have to send any information about your children’s educational goings on.

  3. Regarding the IL ROE harassments, one homeschooling family who did their own research and knew their homeschooling rights refused to show up for a truancy review board request. They send a written response to the board stating they were educating their child per the IL compulsory attendance statute exemption and would not be attending.
    They have been left alone by the ROE since. I hope other families will do the same, for their own piece of mind.

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