This post is ‘late’ because I’m notÂ familiar with Vermont homeschooling law, and I kept sweeping theÂ news reportsÂ under my virtual rug.Â Still, I don’t want to wait on this until the next change in Vermont lawÂ occurs, so here is the ‘olds’ about the changes.
Apparently, in the sausage/law making of the newest version of Vermont homeschool law, there were many dissenting opinions.Â The process doesn’t appear to have been easy.
Some of the points of contention were enrollment or approval, the giving of birth dates, and licensed teachers who areÂ homeschooling their own children needing to be evaluated by other teachers.Â Families want enrollment, some people in the Department of Education (DOE) want approval.Â Giving of birth dates is seen as a way of tracking specific children instead of believing the parent as to the child’s age.Â And teachers-who-homeschool feel insulted that they would lie about their children’s progress.
Another counter point of view is that the DOE has no designs on controlling homeschooling families.Â The DOE personnel are required by law to implement a statute and have the responsibility to do so.
A third point of view was an HSLDA interpretation, but it appears to have been almost universally unpopular in Vermont, and seems to have been shown the door.
Much discussion ensued, more than I can assimilate from a distance, butÂ I think I have aÂ nutshell understanding.
- Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, 12 April 2006, Governor signs homeschool bill into lawÂ Â Â Â
The new law recognizes the need for flexibility in homeschool programs and stipulates the following:
A home study program, which has successfully completed two consecutive years of home study for any student, will not be required to submit an annual minimum course of study except for the year in which a child reaches the age of 12.
A student who is 13 years of age or older will not be required to study physical education, comprehensive health education and fine arts. This will open the door to more personal choices around electives for older homeschoolers.
In order to evaluate studentsâ€™ progress there will be a specific format for end-of-the-year assessments done by licensed Vermont teachers.
Specific and authorized use of certain standardized achievement tests for end-of-the-year assessments.Â
- Rutland Herald, Rutland, Vermont, 24 April 2006, New law eases the way for home-schoolersÂ Â
[Education Commissioner Richard] Cate said the curriculum requirement didn’t require a huge amount of work for each child, but it could add up in a family, and definitely added up for his department, which has to review all of the annual plans for the more than 2,000 home-schoolers around the state.
- Burlington Free Press, Burlington, Vermont, 26 April 2006, New state law designed to ease home schooling requirementsÂ Â Â Â
By law, those parents have to write a curriculum plan each fall for each child they plan to teach at home and submit it to the state Education Department. The department must approve each plan.
At the end of the school year, the home-schooled children must pass a standardized test or submit a portfolio of their work, which will be reviewed by another teacher, to determine whether the curriculum plan was successful, Education Commissioner Richard Cate said.
I hope the Vermont homeschoolers are able to continue to work with their legislature, and that they are able to continue theirÂ incremental steps to a looser set of laws.