Homeschooling Without Falling Foul Of The Law
Despite some common misconceptions homeschooling is perfectly legal throughout the United States. There are however rules governing homeschooling and parents need to fully understand these before deciding to home school their children.
Despite a commonly held belief that taking your children out of school and teaching them at home is likely to run you into trouble with the law, homeschooling is in fact completely legal. There are however laws governing homeschooling and you need to familiarize yourself with these before you start.
The Constitution does not cover education and, while the Department of Education plays a large role in defining the rules governing the provision of education services, the laws covering schooling are established by each individual state and vary considerably from one state to the next.
When it comes to homeschooling, although it is legal in all 50 states, some states adopt a fairly relaxed attitude while others have very restrictive rules. For example, Idaho and Texas place very few restrictions on parents while Massachusetts and New York adopt a very heavy handed approach and require such things as state approval for a student's curriculum and submission of student achievement test scores. They may even carry out periodic home visits. Other states, such as Pennsylvania, require parents to submit teaching materials used for homeschooling to the local school district for approval.
Over the years there have been many attempts to stop the practice of homeschooling and many parents worry that, even if it is legal today, there is a chance that it will be outlawed in the not too distant future. This is however extremely unlikely and for many years now the courts have consistently ruled in favor of homeschooling. Indeed, in one quite recent case which was taken to the Supreme Court for a ruling the Court reaffirmed the fundamental rights of parents and confirmed the view first expressed by the Supreme Court as far back as 1925 that education is the responsibility of the parents and not of the state.
For parents who are concerned about the legal aspects of homeschooling (or who get themselves into a legal dispute with state authorities) the Home School Legal Defense Association was founded in 1983 and is not only the fount of knowledge on all matters pertaining to the legality of homeschooling, but has also fought many battles on behalf of homeschooling parents.
If you are considering homeschooling then you should certainly not be put off by concerns about your legal position but you must know that there are laws which govern what you can and cannot do and you should acquaint yourself with these.
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