Image credit: Michael F. McElroy
By Motoko Rich
Until recently, Pennsylvania had one of the strictest home-school laws in the nation.
Families keeping their children out of traditional classrooms were required to register each year with their local school district, outlining study plans and certifying that adults in the home did not have a criminal record. At the end of the year, they submitted portfolios of student work to private evaluators for review. The portfolio and evaluator’s report then went to a school district superintendent to approve.
But in October, after years of campaigning by home-schooling families in the state as well as the Home School Legal Defense Association, a national advocacy group, Pennsylvania relaxed some of its requirements.
“We believe that because parents who make this commitment to teach their children at home are dedicated and self-motivated, there’s just not a real need for the state to be involved in overseeing education,” said Dewitt T. Black III, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has close ties to local Christian home-school associations. Mr. Black wrote an early version of the bill that eventually passed here.
Unlike so much of education in this country, teaching at home is broadly unregulated. Along with steady growth in home schooling has come a spirited debate and lobbying war over how much oversight such education requires.
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