Friday, January 27, 2006

Homeschooling is in the House

Its supposed to sound like some sort of party cry, but it really refers to several homeschooling bills that are in the House (and Senate) of the Virginia General Assembly. I volunteer as a legislative monitor, so thats one reason why I haven't been blogging much recently -- my computer time is spent at the LIS.

Stephanie over at Throwing Marshmallows talks about one of the bills that would give parents who don't have college degrees and who homeschool their kids another option -- an easier option for filing than they currently have. Non-degreed parents may homeschool legally in Virginia, its just that currently, they have to provide additional information in order to prove their ability to teach. In essence, the statute is saying that a college degree is proof of the ability to teach. This, of course, is laughable, some of the most ineffective teachers/professors have the most advanced degrees.

I feel strongly about this issue, I think that those who do not have college degrees should not be subjected to increased requirements in order to homeschool. Homeschooling is a big step, one not taken lightly and without a lot of consideration. There are safeguards to ensure the children are learning -- parent credentials aren't rationally related to the ability to homeschool. If its acceptable to require more from non-degreed parents, what is to stop the state from deciding that a college degree is not sufficient evidence of ability to teach? Why not require a degree in education or teaching certification or some other kind of test? Why not make the demands on homeschoolers just as insane as the demands on public school students to prove they are learning? And don't feel safe if your kids are in private school, they're next. Or maybe you can buy your way out of state interference.

A similar bill was before the GA two years ago and passed both houses before the Governor amended it to include some BS (and I don't mean a bachelor's of science) that non-degreed parents must have made a certain score on the SAT or some other test in order to file under the easier option. Basically, he destroyed the bill -- I don't know why he did it, maybe he meant well, but he destroyed it. Because of the amendment, it failed in the GA and went away, which was good since no one wanted it after he'd amended it.

I talked to an acquaintance of mine the summer after that episode and she told me she called her reps about that bill, expressing her opposition because she thinks that those who do not have college degrees should not be able to homeschool. She did not understand that the law allows non-degreed parent to homeschool and what the bill would actually do -- she thought non-degreed parents couldn't homeschool and she was expressing her opinion that it should stay that way. And she's calling her reps to weigh in on bills when she has no idea what the heck she's talking about. I'm glad she's not homeschooling despite her education degree.

If you're in Virginia and you know what I'm talking about and you agree with me -- call your reps. If not, never mind; things are just fine without your input. I know I should urge you to speak up whatever your view. I'd be all for democracy if it was democratic, but the statute as written isn't.

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