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After Complaints From Home-school Parents Pennsylvania Pulls Back on Regulations

By: Serena Crawford

Pennsylvania has been very strict with their home-schooling regulations in the past. They required that if a parent decided to teach their child at home they would need to follow certain rules in order to do so. They had to pass in a statement that said that no one in the home had a criminal background. They needed to check in with the school district and register every year. They also needed to bring a portfolio to private evaluators at the end of every year so that it could be reviewed. From there the superintendent would look over the portfolio and decide whether the child was doing well enough to continue with home-schooling. These rules brought complaints from the home-school parents who are trying to break away from the confines of traditional schooling.

Thanks to these complaints from the parents as well as help from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the state of Pennsylvania has decided to lessen the restrictions that it has placed on home-school students and parents. Dewitt T. Black III is an attorney for the HSLDA who helped with this case and eventually wrote a bill that was passed. He stated that since the parents were making the commitment to educate the children and were taking the time and energy to do so it didn’t seem necessary that the school districts intervened as they did.

Many different states around the country have regulations but none of them were quite as strict as Pennsylvania was. There are 14 different states that do not specify the subjects that need to be taught. Only 11 states require that students be registered with the school district as being home-schooled. Half of the states do not require students that are home-schooled to take any of the standardized tests. Nine of the states require that parents who wish to teach their children at home have at least a high school diploma.

One of the best things about teaching your child at home is the freedom that it allows. You can teach your child things that they will be able to use later in life such as finance skills, home-making skills, and social skills. Often times they do not get these important lessons in a traditional school setting. There is flexibility with the schedules. There is mobility in case you need to leave town. The benefits are endless. This is why it makes it that much more difficult when the state you live in has such strict regulations over your child’s education.

Pennsylvania has now eliminated the need for students to have to submit their portfolios at the end of the year as well as their standardized test scores. Many of the educators in the state fought against these changes. The state also got rid of the need for outside endorsements when a parent wants to register their child as having graduated from high school.

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