Over a million children are homeschooled each year. There are a variety of reasons for choosing homeschooling, but also some legal hurdles that parents must overcome.
Homeschooling Statistics and the Concerns Behind Them
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2003 approximately 1.1 million children were being homeschooled. This was an increase of 850,000 children since 1999. Parents homeschooling their children tend to be two-parent households that are white. Parents offer several different reasons for homeschooling their children. Many are concerned about the environment at their local public schools including drugs, peer pressure, and violence.
Although the Supreme Court has never ruled on homeschooling generally, the Court has ruled that Amish parents have the right to homeschool their children for religious reasons. Many state courts have also upheld the right of parents to homeschool their children. While every state now allows homeschooling, the burdens that parents must bear vary significantly from state to state. Many states, such as Texas, are considered “homeschool-friendly” to parents.
Compulsory Attendance Laws
Compulsory attendance laws require that children in a specific age range go to school for a specific amount of time. They date back to 1852 when school attendance was made compulsory in Massachusetts.
Homeschooling Treated Like Attendance at Private or Non-Accredited School
States such as Iowa, Maine and New Hampshire have homeschooling requirements designed specifically for homeschooling. However, many of these laws refer to homeschooling under different names such as “alternative instruction” or “home instruction.” Certain states have specific homeschooling requirements that parents must follow and these are based on the same laws that govern private schools in those states. States, such as Texas, California and Indiana, require that parents comply with the same laws that “non-accredited” schools abide by.
Some states, such as Rhode Island and Massachusetts, require parents to obtain permission to homeschool their children and some states may even require the supervision of a certified teacher to oversee the child’s education. The majority of the states have curriculum requirements for homeschooling, but these requirements are not particularly difficult for parents to meet, as there are many sources to purchase those materials.
Testing and assessment vary from state to state as well. There has been a general trend to ease test requirements and less than half of the states require testing. Some states do require that standardized tests are performed and a qualified teacher performs the narration of the test.