Monday, May 25, 2009

Homeschoolers vs. the State

Two weeks ago, during the last week of the Missouri legislative session, an omnibus education bill was put forth. Unfortunately, the bill had the unintended consequence of affecting the upper end of the mandatory attendance age of homeschoolers. Instead of simply reaching the age of 16, teenagers (and adults?!) would not be released from compulsory attendance until they had achieved "successful completion of sixteen credits toward high school graduation."

"Why would this be a problem?" you ask... well Missouri homeschool law does not ask families to record "credits", but "hours". So who would decide when a homeschooled child had completed 16 credits? The fear of homeschoolers was that the state, through the judicial process, would be at liberty to define a homeschool credit any way they wished.

So what is a good homeschooler to do? Rally of course! Which is exactly what we did. The day after the homeschooling community became aware of the problem several thousand descended on the grounds of the capital to lodge their opposition.

Here a couple of pictures from my phone. The first is from behind the speakers looking down on to the lawn and the second is facing the steps of the Capitol.

Pretty impressive if I do say so myself ;-).

Thanks to the work of our homeschool lobbyist compromise language was reached which defines a homeschool high school credit as 100 instructional hours. The law currently requires a minimum of 1000 instructional hours each yr, so even following the minimum requirements, homeschoolers will have completed their required high school credit within two yrs of beginning their high school studies.

While easy enough to follow through with, I am still left feeling a bit uncomfortable with homeschool regulations being included as part of an omnibus education bill. The more divergent our regulations become the easier it is for them to get out of hand.

However the take home message for legislators was "Don't mess with homeschoolers!" so I don't think we have to worry about additional changes any time soon.

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