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June 20, 2007

Good Homeschool Bill Introduced

Co-sponsored by 16 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and introduced on May 8, 2007, House Bill 1273 would significantly improve the homeschool law of Pennsylvania, one of the most restrictive laws in the nation. Most significant, this legislation would remove the requirement that home education programs be evaluated by public school superintendents to determine whether students were receiving an appropriate education. Current law not only requires parents to obtain an evaluation of their program by persons with qualifications prescribed by statute, it also requires local superintendents to conduct virtually the same evaluation to also determine whether an appropriate education is occurring. And superintendents may completely disregard the findings of the earlier evaluation and make a contrary determination. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation requiring homeschool students to undergo this double evaluation.

Pennsylvania homeschoolers contend that one evaluation conducted by a person with the state-prescribed qualifications is more than sufficient to determine whether a student is progressing satisfactorily. House Bill 1273 would require parents to submit to the local superintendent only the written evaluation and certification from the evaluator that an appropriate education was occurring. The superintendent would have to accept this documentation without further inquiry.

Other parts of the bill ensure that an administrative procedure is followed if there is a question about a parent’s compliance with the homeschool law. In some cases, parents are being threatened with truancy charges in court for failure to provide some information in the affidavit filed with the local superintendent at the beginning of the home education program.

Homeschooling families in Pennsylvania are urged to contact their state representatives and senators and ask them to support this legislation.