West Virginia has passed into law a bill easing homeschooling parents’ paperwork burden, reforming the way the state’s “notice of intent” process works.
Gov. Earl Tomblin (D) signed House Bill 4175 into law in March. When the law takes effect in May, homeschooling parents will be required to submit notice of intent paperwork to government school district officials only once, instead of every year.
Other changes to the state’s home-education laws in the bill include expediting the process for parents wishing to withdraw their children from government schools and reducing the frequency of required curriculum assessment reports.
‘Trusting the Parents’
State Del. Brian Kurcaba (R- Monongalia), the bill’s sponsor and a homeschooling parent, says the new law supports parents’ right to choose how to educate their children.
“This bill is about liberty and freedom and trusting the parents,” Kurcaba said. “Parents have proven themselves historically across the country, and homeschooling kids have earned the reputation of scoring very well on tests.
“You know your kids better than anybody else,” Kurcaba said. “You can work one-on-one with your child, versus 20 in a classroom. Ultimately, it’s a trust issue. It’s nice to know you’re trusted.”
Kurcaba says more parents are realizing they can take charge of their children’s upbringing.
“[Homeschooling is] the fastest-growing form of education,” Kurcaba said. “Parents realize they’re fully capable.”
Kurcaba says the law reduces government intrusion into parenting and education.
“This bill takes the hassle away,” Kurcaba said. “It’s a matter of respecting homeschooling parents and recognizing that homeschooling kids are equal. Homeschooling parents are just as busy, if not busier, than public school parents, and this bill takes many things to do off their plate.”
Paperwork Reduction Act
Stephanie Butcher, a board member of the West Virginia Home Educators Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting and defending home education in the state, says the new law will make home education less confusing for new homeschooling families.
“This bill reduces the paperwork, limiting the confusion that frequently accompanies it,” Butcher said. “Eliminating the two-week waiting period to withdraw a child from public school is huge. Every year we hear from parents of students being threatened by bullies. It’s better to make a quick, clean break when your child doesn’t feel safe in the classroom or in the halls.”
Getting with the Program
Butcher says Tomblin’s decision to sign the bill helps modernize the state’s home-education laws.
“Numerous states have successfully removed burdens for home educators,” Butcher said. “It’s a very exciting time to be part of the home-education community in the Mountain State. Our numbers continue to grow, and our youngsters continue to excel and succeed.”
Teresa Mull ([email protected]) is an education research fellow for The Heartland Institute.