Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man
Pennsylvania is among the most restrictive states when it comes to the freedom to homeschool your children. The state requires that parents teach their children state-mandated subjects for 180 days per year, for at least 900 hours. Tests must be administered, and the district must assess the child at the end of each school year. Immunizations are also required.
You can hire a tutor instead, but it won’t be cheap because the state requires homeschool tutors to have teachers’ qualifications. Plus, the tutor must be teaching only children from the same immediate family.
But this year with COVID closing down some schools and forcing others to learn remotely, the number of homeschooled children has doubled nationwide. Up to 10% of children are now homeschooled, according to Gallup polling— and this does not include remote learning.
Some parents in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) opted to create homeschooling “pods” where they team up with other parents to homeschool a number of kids from different families.
And Pennsylvania responded by issuing strict operating rules for these pods, starting with the requirement to inform the state of your intention to host a homeschooling pod.
Now any parent who hosts children for a learning pod must undergo a background check, and make sure they are allowed to run a “residential daycare” in their area. They also must comply with state and CDC guidelines for social distancing while they homeschool.
The state can cram as many kids into one classroom as it wants, but pods must have one adult for each 12 young children (or 15 older students).
Pod parents have to open their home to DHS if child services come knocking, no warrant required. And they are considered mandatory reporters, meaning they could be prosecuted for failure to report signs of child abuse.
What this means:
Keep in mind that these pods aren’t generally made up of random strangers. A parent could host these same kids for a sleepover without requiring background checks and state permission. But for some reason, when it comes to learning, suddenly the state inserts itself into the relationship.
And as usual, these regulations are much harder on families with limited financial means. So amidst a crumbling economy and the biggest upset in lifestyle in modern memory, parents also have to comply with regulations just to choose the best method for their family’s education.
Luckily, not every state is as strict as Pennsylvania when it comes to homeschooling. In fact, most are much freer.
What you can do about it:
There are some states which don’t regulate homeschooling at all. You have complete freedom to educate your children as you see fit.
- The freest “no notice” states: Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, (and surprisingly) Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey. These states allow No Notice/Regulation. This means that if you never enroll your children in school, you don’t have to inform the state that you are homeschooling. Generally, though, you do have to formally withdraw your child from public school if you intend to switch to homeschooling. And that’s it. Teach your children as you see fit.
- 16 states have Low Regulation: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico fall into this category. These states generally require that you register your intention to homeschool with a school district (usually your local one) before the school year that your child turns 6 or 7, depending on the state. But there are generally very few other requirements.
- 18 states have Moderate Regulation. This requires registration, often every year. They also generally have testing requirements. This category includes Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
- The most restrictive states: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These generally require registration, testing, submission of an annual syllabus that aligns with subjects taught by the state, and sometimes proof of immunizations.
Around the world, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK all allow homeschooling. Like in the United States, the requirements vary by region in each country. But it is an option.