Washington DC Tightens Restriction on Homeschooling

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

The State Board of Education in the District of Columbia has approved new regulations that will impose significanttr restrictions on homeschooling families.

The new regulations require annual notification of a parent’s intent to homeschool on a form to be developed by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), maintenance of a portfolio of schoolwork, and up to two annual portfolio reviews by the OSSE to determine whether a homeschool program, in OSSE’s opinion, is providing “regular, thorough instruction” in the required subjects.

“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. We must make sure that our work with the community continues on this issue,” said DC State Board of Education President Robert Bobb.

However, many homeschooling groups are disappointed with the new regulations. Since the beginning of the process to craft the new regulations, the DC Board of Education received over 2,800 e-mails, 400 phone calls and written comments from homeschoolers in opposition to their proposed rules.

In addition, more than 100 homeschoolers attended three sessions to discuss the regulations which only resulted in the removal of the worst requirement – home visits by D.C. school officials.

According to an HSLDA report, no guidelines are provided by the Board on the regulations which gives the OSSE unbridled discretion to implement these new provisions. In fact, the only Board member who voted “no” to the new regulations, William Lockridge, cited this lack of clarity, saying the power it gave the Superintendent over parents was “a type of socialism.”

HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka testified against the document, stressing the fact that homeschooling has a proven track record of success and therefore does not require further government interference.

“Homeschoolers throughout D.C. and the 50 states in scores of studies and surveys have scored 20 to 30 points above the national average, on the average, on national standardized achievement tests. Also, the publishers of the SAT and ACT College Entrance Exams have tracked homeschoolers for the last 10 years and found that on average they score above the national average. Furthermore, homeschool graduates who enroll in universities also do above average as the various studies and surveys in universities of their student body have shown,” Mr Klicka said in his statement.

He also emphasized that parents should not be further burdened with arbitrary, overly intrusive, vague or restrictive rules.

Mike Donnelly, a staff attorney at HSLDA, added, “These regulations create situations where educational bureaucrats are violating the fundamental constitutional rights of parents, and are unnecessarily broad and difficult to manage. They have breached the trust between the District’s government and its citizens.”

HSLDA is working on an analysis to guide their D.C. members in response to this development and are asking concerned parents to be on the alert for more information as the OSSE’s deadline for notification (August 15) approaches.


For more information, visit http://www.hslda.org 


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