One of the greatest challenges military families face is creating educational continuity while living a mobile military lifestyle. There are often variances in educational programs between states, because education is a function of the state rather than a federal system. In response, military families have begun to explore the option of homeschooling as a means of providing stability and flexibility for their children.
Some items to keep in mind if you are considering homeschooling:
- Homeschooling is also a function of the state
- The laws and regulations you need to follow will depend on the state in which you physically reside, not your military state of residence.
- If you do decided to homeschool your children, you MUST withdraw them from their last school and request their records.
The California Education Code provides that “all children between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend public full-time school unless otherwise exempted.” (section 48200) This “compulsory schooling law” has two statutory exemptions.
- The private tutoring exemption (section 48224) for children who are instruction for a least three hours each day, 175 days a year by a teacher who holds a valid California teaching credential for the grade taught, and
- The private school exemption (section 48222) for children who are enrolled in a full-time private school. There are no laws that establish the minimum standards for the teachers or curricula of private schools. The only legal requirement for private schools is that they file a Private School Affidavit (section 33190) with their local County Superintendent of Schools.
Those three sections of Education Code are the entire law of homeschooling in California. As you can see by reviewing the Code, homeschooling is not explicitly forbidden or allowed in California. Practically speaking the vagueness of the law affects few of California’s 60,000 or more homeschool kids. These families are confident in their legal right to homeschool their children.
How do homeschooling families comply with education code, if it does not mention homeschooling?
They comply with the compulsory school law in one of four ways.
- They establish a private school in their own home.
- They enroll their children in a private school that offers a satellite program for homeschooling (PSP).
- They employ a private tutor or hold a California teaching credential themselves.
- They send their children to a public school that offers independent study.
Option 1: Private School Affidavit
Many Californian families choose to comply with the state’s compulsory attendance law by establishing a private school in their own home. These families file the private school affidavit (see section 33190) with their local county board of education just like their local Waldorf, Catholic, or college-preparatory school does. Since the Education Code allows anyone to establish a private school of any size, with any philosophy, employing whatever teachers they choose, parents use this legal provision to homeschool. Many years ago, the California Department of Education used to question the legality of these very small private schools, but for the last five years has explicitly agreed with our interpretation that the law permits parents to form these schools.
Option 2: Virtual Academy
There are several virtual academies and charter schools available in the area from which to choose. These schools provide online instruction and printed materials, as well as individual support to parents via telephone and in person through an assigned teacher (usually monthly). This option also provides support for record keeping and curriculum, which may be helpful for first time homeschool parents.
Option 3: ICE
You may utilize the ICE (Independent and Continuing Education) Program available through the Barstow Unified School District. ICE offers flexible weekly support from a state certified teacher and all materials are provided to parents at no cost. The program will assist you in record keeping and provide parents with support in teaching their children at home. For more information contact:
- Barstow Unified School District at (760) 255-6063
- Silver Valley Unified School District at (760) 254-2715
Option 4: Private Tutor
According to California Home School Network, a parent with a California teaching credential may school their children under the private tutorial exemption. The parent may only school children in the grade levels and subjects covered by the credential. Parents may also hire a credentialed tutor. Students using this option must receive instruction for a least three hours a day, 175 days per school year, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm.
Can I really do this?
Thousands of parents of all educational backgrounds are successfully homeschooling. Fortunately, the decision you make is also yours to change.
- There is no homeschooling bureaucracy
- There are no committees to pass judgement
- There are no forms to fill out in triplicate
You are not alone! For support, contact www.meetup.com.
For more information on homeschooling laws and regulations by state, please visit www.hslda.org/laws.
For more information on homeschooling organizations across the world, please visit www.hslda.org/orgs.