Submitted by David Tenorio on Wed, 11/10/2021 - 11:55
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Homeschooling - What Are the Rules?</span>

Homeschooling - What Are the Rules?

Families all over the country have removed their children from public schools choosing instead to homeschool in increasing numbers over the last two years, but does every parent qualify to homeschool their child?  Our last blog focused on the notable rise in homeschooling which, according to statistics, has doubled over the last two years.  In fact, the president of the Texas Homeschool Coalition, Tim Lambert, stated “In 2020 we saw the largest surge in homeschooling in history. It appears that renewed concern about COVID-19 may be about to replicate a similar trend for 2021.”  This week’s blog will key in on what the legal requirements are for homeschooling, particularly in Texas, and what rules are in place for parents who homeschool their children.

Texas parents offer a variety of reasons for homeschooling their children, especially for short periods of time, according to a recent report from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  Among some of the reasons given for short term homeschooling are:  (1) medical issues; (2) mental health reasons; (3) disabilities or special needs; (4) Family issues; (5) Moving during a school year; (5) Family traveling for a portion of the school year; (6) natural disaster or other issue out of your control. 

If a parent is thinking of homeschooling, there are several steps they must take to meet required qualifications.  Requirements for parents vary from state to state but the most basic requirement is that one, or both parents, who are planning on teaching, have at the very least a high school diploma or GED.  Outside of the basic educational requirements for the diploma and GED,  parents can set up their own homeschool teaching methods that include coordinating testing requirements, purchasing supplies and equipment based on need, and establishing their own teaching days and hours. For parents wishing to homeschool, they should  (1) review parental requirements for their area, (2)  file the necessary paperwork to transfer the student from public school to homeschooling and (3) then physically release the student from the public classroom.

Parents can withdraw their children from public school at any time during the academic year to begin homeschooling.  Parents can transfer their children from public or private school to homeschool at mid-year or even at the end of the year if there are issues that are forcing them to make an immediate decision.  The first thing a Texas parent must do if they plan on homeschooling their children is to file an annual certificate of enrollment with your local school district school attendance officer.  Texas state law requires that children from age 6 to 19 must attend either public or private (including homeschooling), until they graduate or get a GED.  

Texas is considered by many to be one of the best states to homeschool, according to the Texas HomeSchool Coalition.  Texas does not have to meet many of the statutes other states insist on such as taking yearly standardized testing, having parents evaluated by the state, and getting specific curriculums approved. The only thing that the Texas law requires to legally homeschool is:  (1).  The instruction must be bona fide (i.e. not a sham); (2).  The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor); (3).  The curriculum must include the basic subjects of  (a) reading; (b) spelling; (c) grammar; (d) mathematics; and, (e) good citizenship. Texas law also allows that a child may be taught in another family’s home or you may use a tutor for instruction.  

Homeschooling costs

Taxpayers  spend an average of $15,240 annually per public school student while the average homeschool family spends $600 for their children’s education. While homeschooling costs are low, there are the regular expenses for supplies, field trips, etc., and if the curriculum includes technology, then additional expenses for computers, related items and possible inclusion of online educational agencies which have increased in number since the pandemic started.

There are no targeted government funds for homeschooling expenses, however, parents may apply for funding through the Texas Education Agency, or the U.S. Department of Education.  Locally the Home School Legal Defense Fund (HSLDF) will accept grant applications for home schooling in particular for those families going through hard times, to help widows, single parents and military families and other low-income families, and they offer assistance to families whose children needs financial help to afford required diagnostic testing, educational therapies and specialized equipment.  In order to be considered for any of these opportunities, whoever submits a grant must be a member of the HSLDF.

 Homeschooling is not for everyone,  but can be a viable option for parents and has seen a surge during Covid-19.  Our next blog will focus on the benefits and drawbacks of homeschooling, and will offer a resource list for those who want additional information on homeschooling.