By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
April 25, 2013
With a unanimous vote, the Senate on Thursday gave the state’s 50,000-plus homeschooling families a bit more leeway in how they provide their children’s education by making changes in the law defining the schools.
“Senate Bill 189 and its companion, H 230, which had already passed the House unanimously, simply update the law to show that homeschool students can take part in co-ops, outside classes, online courses and other learning opportunities without losing their homeschool status,” explained the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “We’re glad to see the law pass for the sake of the 80,000 or so students schooling at home in our state.”
Sen. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort) told members of the Senate that the homeschool law hadn’t been updated since its inception in 1988. He said the Division of Non-Public Education interpreted that law to mean that language arts, math, science and social studies must be taught by a student’s parents or legal guardians or a member of the household.
The new law makes it clear that parents can determine the scope and sequence of academic instruction, provide that instruction themselves, and determine additional sources for it as well. Like the old law, it allows for families to homeschool singly or jointly with one other family.
“Times have changed, and many homeschool families are already involved in co-ops, hire outside tutors or use Internet-based classes. The new law affirms their right to do so and brings the definition up to date,” said Dr. Creech.
Sen. Tamara Barringer (R-Wake) told the Senate Education Committee, which voted unanimously Wednesday to give the bill a favorable recommendation, that she had homeschooled for “one very challenging year” and that homeschoolers need all the tools that they can get.
Fifteen-year-old Mary Hannah, who has been homeschooled since kindergarten, called the new definition “a huge asset” for her parents as they create a successful learning environment for her family. She said she represented the N.C. Coalition of Home Educators.
“Just because we homeschool does not mean we want to be isolated from the world. Rather we want to learn in many different ways, ways that will give us a great education and prepare us for the future,” she told the Education Committee, describing the importance of individualized education and insisting that homeschool families “need assurance that under the law they are free to direct their child’s education.”
North Carolinians for Home Education, represented by Spencer Mason in the committee, consistently supported the bill.
However, the Committee also heard from Lynn and Lydia Taylor, who said they represented families who opposed the law. Instead of changing the definition of homeschool, they requested refinement of certain policies followed by the Division of Non-public Education.