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Is Homeschooling Legal?

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For centuries, education took place mostly in homes, in small private schools of the parents’ choice, or in free schools sponsored by various religious or other organizations to assist the poor. However, attendance was not compulsory. In the United States there were home schools and local schools that were funded privately. Compulsory attendance was not an issue until the mid 19th century, when Massachusetts enacted compulsory attendance laws against the wishes of the majority of parents. Before the compulsory attendance laws, the literacy rate in Massachusetts was 98%; after the compulsory attendance laws, the literacy rate was 91%.

The modern homeschooling movement started quietly in the 1960’s and 1970’s with the writings of men and women like John Holt and Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore. John Holt, a public educator, became dissatisfied with public schools and influenced many parents to abandon the schools and teach their children at home. He also started a newsletter, “Growing without Schooling” which contributed greatly to the homeschool movement in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Moore advocated teaching children informally, delaying formal academics until the child reached 8 or more years of age. The Moores were strong leaders in the battle for the rights of parents to home educate their children, appearing on behalf of homeschoolers in court cases and in legislatures around the nation, including Pennsylvania. They were particularly influential in the Christian community. Many others contributed to the advancement of homeschooling.

In the 1980’s, an all-out battle ensued for the right to teach children at home. Many families all over the United States fought for the right to home educate their children. Some were prosecuted and/or fined, a few were jailed, and some had their children forcefully removed from their homes. After many court cases, legislation was passed in many states to enact homeschooling laws to allow parents to teach their children in their homes. At this writing, homeschooling is legal in some form in all 50 states.

As you read and learn about homeschooling, please remember that many have sacrificed so that you could have the legal right to home educate your children, and it is important not to think lightly of or abuse that right.   Most importantly, remember that homeschoolers must continue to be diligent to protect their freedom to homeschool!   That right is always at risk!   There are still many who would like to prevent parents from homeschooling.

Homeschoolers have grown up, gone to college, moved into the work place, married and have begun teaching a second generation of homeschoolers. Homeschooling has proved itself. Students have done well in the post-high school world, and colleges have begun to seek out homeschooled students because of their ability to work independently and for their love of learning. They have graduated from many institutions of higher learning, including state universities, private colleges (including MIT, Boston College, Yale, and Harvard), and some have even become Rhodes Scholars. They have become doctors, attorneys, public school teachers, computer programmers, college professors, and are engaged in many other professions and trades. Employers have found them to be industrious and hard working. Studies have shown that homeschooled students are not misfits in society. Homeschooling, though not accepted everywhere, has found friends among educators and other professionals, and many of them are now homeschooling their own children. Research and statistics show that the majority of homeschooled students have become productive, well rounded adults who have contributed positively to society.

Please see www.nheri.org for more information on “Homeschoolers Grown Up – What do the Facts Show?”

The term homeschooling is used broadly to describe anyone who privately funds his child’s education outside of the traditional educational institutional setting. There are many different types of homeschoolers and many different ways to homeschool.

For more information on homeschooling in other states:

Homeschooling in Maryland – Maryland Home Education Association (www.mhea.com)

MDHSA does not discriminate against families on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin.

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