Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bumping up against the law, already

Before we moved to Pennsylvania, I looked at some information on the homeschool laws. I didn't like what I saw, but I figured it was doable - people do homeschool here - and that I'd look at it in detail when the time came. Well, the time has come and gone, and I'm wishing I'd done more research before we moved. Not that it would have changed our plans, but I'd have been more prepared.

First off, I'll say that I used to be annoyed by Oregon's homeschool law. That consisted of notifying the school district - one time - and having the kids undergo standardized tests in grades 3, 5, and 2 others I can never remember.

That's it. Now I guess I knew that there were people in other states who drooled over Oregon's easy law. But I found even that annoying and burdensome.

Oh, how good I had it!

To homeschool in PA I need to - wait, I mean before I can officially start my school year in PA, I need to:

- Submit a signed notarized affidavit stating that I will teach my children in accordance with state requirements, that I have given them proper medical and dental services "required for a child of their age or grade," that they have had all their immunizations, that I have a high school diploma, and that I am not a convicted criminal. I have to do this every year!

- Submit a list of educational objectives for the year. (Appropriately vague suggestions can be found online.)

- Submit a report from my children's doctor and dentist verifying that they did receive the medical services required for a child of their age and grade. This means height and weight checks, vaccines, vision and hearing test, and a tb test. If I have a religious, moral, or ethical objection to doctor and dentist services, and/or immunizations, I can claim an exemption from these services. However! If I simply object to giving the school district this information, I may or may not be able to claim an exemption. Some have tried and failed; some have succeeded. It depends on the school district. (So much for state law.) Oh and someone told me that no one really does the tb check anymore... so why is it on the form?? I should note that the information from the doctor does not contain the results of any tests, just that the tests were performed.

OK, there's more.

- At the end of the school year, I have to submit a portfolio of work to be reviewed by a homeschool evaluator, who will determine if I am providing an appropriate education for my children. I have to document 180 days or 900 hours of "schooltime." (However I don't have to document what that consisted of so presumably my reading good books aloud to the kids, or them painting out on the back deck would "count.") The women in my homeschool group assure me that this is not as horrid as it sounds.

- I have to have the kids undergo standardized tests in grades 3, 5, and two others I can't remember.

So there you go. If you are contemplating a move to eastern Pennsylvania, and are a homeschooler... consider New Jersey.

1 comment:

kerri @ gladoil said...

You have my complete sympathy. I wonder how many homeschoolers are "underground" in PA?

It shows the insidious attitude government has that children belong to the state. Almost like we are subcontractors.

Are you close to the border? Do you have a support group that can help you navigate?