Parents Concerned over Homeschool Rules

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Homeschooling parents in the nation's capital must now be approved by the state board each year in order to be allowed to teach their children.

If parents fail to meet a new list of requirements drafted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), they could lose their right to homeschool until changes are made.

Click the play button for comments from Mike Donnelly with the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The D.C. State Board of Education approved the requirements Aug. 1. Parents are now required to submit an official letter to the OSSE, declaring their intention to homeschool. Parents are also now required to submit a portfolio of their students' work for review. Education officials could request a portfolio review up to twice a year.

Opponents say the rules are too vague and could hurt homeschoolers, rather than help them. They charge that the requirements, which are the first of their kind in the state, could also open doors to further restrictions on homeschool education.

"The reasonable homeschooler has no idea what will be good enough for the OSSE," Chris Klicka, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, wrote in a letter to the state board. "We would have to advise our homeschooling members in D.C. not to submit this material for such arbitrary approval."

Klicka recommended a few changes that could satisfy current concerns over the new regulations. He suggested that portfolios should only be required once a year, and that the state review requirement be dropped altogether.

He has also asked the board to drop the official form parents must now use to notify the state of their homeschooling intentions. He added that the board should be more specific on what it wants in the letter.

"If these two changes are made, HSLDA believes this will be acceptable to homeschoolers," he said.

But state board officials say their decision was based on more than "2,800 e-mails and written comments and 400 phone calls" from homeschool supporters around the country.

"The participation of the homeschooling community was a very significant component of this process. The voice of the community helped to ensure that we approved regulations which are sound and balanced," D.C. State Board of Education president Robert Bobb said.

Last Friday's 5-1 vote marked the first time in 15 years that a U.S. jurisdiction placed significant restrictions on homeschool education.

Sources: LifeSite News, Home School Legal Defense Association, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (D.C.)

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