By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
March 21, 2013
RALEIGH — A bill amending the definition of home schools in North Carolina got a passing grade from all 118 members present in the House on Wednesday and has now been sent the Senate’s Education Committee for consideration.
“This is a change that would simply modify the law to more accurately depict what is already happening in the state’s 48,000 or so home schools, some 64 percent of which identify as faith-based,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“It simply updates the law to show that the more than 80,000 home school students in our state can take part in co-ops, outside classes, online courses and other learning opportunities without losing their homeschool status.”
Current law defines a home school as a “nonpublic school in which one or more children of not more than two families or households receive academic instruction from parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household.” The proposed law would define it as “a nonpublic school consisting of the children of not more than two families or households, where the parents or legal guardians or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction.”
“It has been 25 years since North Carolinians for Home Education got our homeschool law passed in 1988. Since then, the interpretation of our homeschool law by the Division of Non-Public Education has been that all core subjects (language arts, math, science and social studies) must be taught by the student’s parents of legal guardians or a member of the household,” explained Spencer Mason, NCHE legislative vice president in an e-mailed announcement about the bill.
“However, education has become more collaborative with the use of the Internet, specialized instructors and co-operative activities of homeschool parents.”
He said the language of the bill would allow homeschool parents to choose the “best additional educational sources and experiences for their children” and allow them to take advantage of future technological developments.
Adding the reference to “scope and sequence” would give home schoolers added protection from being fettered by the federal Core Curriculum, and allowing parents to determine “additional sources of academic instruction’ would mean that they could choose tutors, join co-ops, enlist grandparents or hire trained professionals as they see fit. The bill would also clarify that home school students are eligible for the Career and College Promise program offered by the state’s community colleges, which already allows home school students to participate.
NCHE’s leadership had been considering the idea of pushing for a new home school definition for some time and sought input from home schoolers, legal experts and legislators before voting in January to go ahead with a proposed home school law amendment.
Although they found that most home school families support the measure, NCHE acknowledged in a recent announcement that the state’s home schoolers form a diverse community and that the bills (H 230 has a companion, S 189, in the Senate) had caused some contention.
The group asked members to set aside time to pray, thanking God for the privilege of home education and asking him to guide elected officials so that North Carolina law would best reflect home school families’ responsibilities and privileges without adding regulations. They were also asked to pray that they would be gracious and civil to those with whom they might disagree.
“Homeschooling has been successful in North Carolina for several decades, in part because of its diversity and because of organizations like NCHE, which is operated on Biblical principles and led by Christians who seek to follow Deuteronomy 6:5-9,” said Dr. Creech. “We are glad to see the organization’s diligence in promoting an improved home school law and urge the Senate to also give it a passing grade.”