…is actually a question not too many home schoolers encounter anymore, according to Yvonne Bunn in the “Getting Started” session I attended last year. It used to be the first question anybody asked. Now the first response is more likely to be, “Oh, a family on my block home schools.” So that’s nice.
But how it’s legal varies from state to state. Some impose onerous burdens on the home schooling parents; others barely make you do anything. If you’re curious, the Home School Legal Defense Association has a handy color coded map on their website. I note with pride that Texas is a green state.
Virginia is a little more regulated, but it’s not too awful. There are four options under Virginia law:
1. Home school statute (the option chosen by most home schoolers in Virginia):
- We provide a notice of intent to home school to our local superintendent by August 15 every year (the superintendent does NOT have to approve it– it is a notice, not a request for permission, which is automatic as long as we meet the other requirements of the law).
- We have to meet certain minimum teaching qualifications (a high school diploma, a state teacher certification, a “curriculum or program of study,” or just some evidence that we can “provide an adequate education” for our kids).
- We have to provide the local superintendent with a “description of curriculum.” This is just a list of subjects. We do not have to go into course content.
- Assessment of progress: By August 1 of every year, we submit one of four evaluations: standardized test scores (any nationally normed test will do), an evaluation letter from a certified teacher or a person with a master’s degree or higher in any academic discipline, a transcript or report card from a college, distance learning program or correspondence school, or another type of evaluation or assessment the superintendent determines shows the child is making adequate progress.
2. Religious exemption statute: If you have a bone fide religious objection to sending your kids to school, you can receive an exemption from the entire home schooling statute.
3. Certified tutor statute: If one of the parents is certified in Virginia, he sends off a one time notification that he intends to tutor his children to the local superintendent along with verification that he is certified.
4. Private or denominational school: Groups of home schooling families can form a private school with each home representing a campus. Private schools are unregulated in Virginia. It has to be a group, though. Individual home schools cannot be private schools.
So, in case you were wondering about the legal aspect of home schooling, there you go.