September 19, 2017 6:33 pm Last modified: 2:42 pm

Freedom Homeschool Families Enjoy Is in Danger by VIBOE

Recently, the V.I. Board of Education has proposed changes to the more than adequate current Homeschool Policies in the USVI. These policy changes are the greatest threat to homeschool freedom in decades.
The Virgin Islands Board of Education’s proposed new set of homeschool regulations can only be described as oppressive. If the board adopts them, the freedom homeschool families in the USVI have enjoyed for years will be swept away and replaced with breathtaking government interference in our homes.
Here are a few of the worst features being proposed:
Families can no longer just file a notice to homeschool—they must get prior approval, and the government has “blank check” authority to deny approval. Parents must leave their child in public school for a 30-day "waiting period" before they can homeschool.
Parents wishing to homeschool must list all teachers and their qualifications. Homeschool children must take the standardized test that public schoolchildren take starting in the 8th grade & and meet unspecified graduation requirements.
We are hopeful the VIBOE will reject the new homeschool regulations they are considering. The mountains of new restrictions and paperwork undermine parental authority, erode freedom and won’t help children. The data shows that homeschooled children don’t do any better in states with heavy homeschool regulation.
Background
An analysis of the regulations in all 50 states shows that homeschooled children do just as well academically in states with the lowest level of regulation as they do in the states with the highest level of regulation. The empirical evidence is clear: adding red tape and restrictions simply won’t help children!
There are several sections to the proposed regulations. I will explain the main problems in each section one at a time.
Section entitled: "Procedures for Home School Instruction—Parent and Guardians."
Paragraph 2 requires families to file notice 30 days prior to homeschooling. This 30-day waiting period is oppressive and unjustifiable. Parents would be forced to keep their children in public school for 30 days after they want to take them out. This is discriminatory and unacceptable. No one else changing their child’s educational setting is required to leave their children in the old setting for 30 days. (The current regulation says "within 10 days.") A 30-day "waiting period" is without precedent in the 50 states.
Paragraph 3.a. requires homeschool families to list all the teachers. This is unjustifiable. As long as the parents list their own name, the board knows who is ultimately responsible. The selection of teachers is the parent’s choice, and not subject to review by the board.
Paragraph 3.f. mandates that homeschooled children take the Virgin Islands Summative Assessment and gives the education department power to mandate where the child will take the test. This is unjustifiable. That test is designed to measure how much children have learned using an official Virgin Island curriculum. But homeschool students do not use that curriculum. It is unfair to test children based on a curriculum they did not use! It is unfair to test a child in an unfamiliar location where they may feel uncomfortable. Most states don’t require any year-end testing, but of those that do, they always offer several different options and allow parents to choose the location. No state demands that parents use one specific test or mandates where such a test will be taken.
Paragraph 4 demands that parents follow the school system’s withdrawal process. This is unjustifiable. The child belongs to the parent, not the school! Once the parent wishes to withdraw the child, it should be accomplished immediately. This is how it works for a student moving to a private school.
Paragraph 6 says "students must meet graduation requirements." This is unjustifiable since homeschool parents do not seek a public school diploma. Such a demand is virtually unheard of in the 50 states. This degree of control, in effect, forces children back into the public school system that their parents wanted them to leave.
Section entitled: "Procedures for Home School Instruction—Department of Education"
Paragraphs 1 and 2 imply that homeschool families need prior approval to homeschool. This is not accurate and not acceptable. Families file a simple notice, and if the notice satisfies the regulations, they are in compliance. It is unacceptable for the department to exercise control in the form of prior approval. Only two of the 50 states require advance approval, and the overwhelming trend is against it. What standards would Virgin Island bureaucrats use in granting approval? No one knows.
Paragraph 3 vaguely requires families to produce "educational records" under some circumstances. What records? This new, vague demand is unacceptable. The current regulations already require the family to produce a portfolio.
Section entitled: "Home School Instruction Policy Form."
Part B demands that homeschool parents list the teacher for every subject, and which days of the week that subject will be taught. This is unjustifiable. The board has no authority over who parents choose to teach their children or on what days. The board is not permitted to judge parental teacher choice. A homeschool is part of a family. This demand treats a family like an institution. None of the 50 states require this.
Part C demands that the parent or other teacher list their qualifications. This is unacceptable. Merely by being a parent, a parent has a right to homeschool his children. The board is not permitted to judge a parental decision to homeschool. The board is ill-qualified to determine who is qualified to teach in the intimate setting of a home or a tutorial situation.
Section entitled: "Confirmation and Signatures"
This section interferes with parental choice by mandating that parents "review business licenses and other practices before accepting terms and conditions" for outside teachers. This may be a good idea, but it is not the government’s place to mandate it.
To the Homeschool Community, we encourage you to
Call and write the member or members of the board who represent your area and the “at large” member. STT 774-4546, STX: 772-4144
Board members:
Nandi Sekou, Esq., Chairman
St. Thomas District
E-mail: nsekou@myviboe.com
Oswin A. Sewer, Member
Member at Large
E-mail: osewer@myviboe.com
Mary Moorhead , Member
St. Croix District
E-mail: mmoorhead@myviboe.com
LaVerne M. Slack, Secretary
St. Thomas District
E-mail: lmslack@myviboe.com
Martial Webster, Member
St. Croix District
E-mail: mwebster@myviboe.com
Judy Gomez, Esq., Member
St. Thomas District
E-mail: jmgomez@myviboe.com
Terrence T. Joseph, Vice-Chairman
St. Croix District
E-mail: ttjoseph@myviboe.com
Arah C. Lockhart, Member
St. Thomas District
E-mail: aclockhart@myviboe.com
Winona A. Hendricks, Member
St. Croix District
E-mail: wahendricks@myviboe.com
Call the senator who represents you. Give him or her the same message. For the district of St. Thomas-St. John, call 774-0880. For the district of St. Croix, call 773-2424.
3. Call Governor Kenneth Mapp. 774-0001
4. Attend the meeting of the Board of Education on Friday, February 6 at 12:30 PM at the Sunny Isle Professional Building, Christianstead, VI.
Let us stand united in freedom!
Respectfully submitted,
Editor’s note: Scott A. Woodruff Esq. is the senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association; And Andrea B. King is a St. Thomas homeschool parent.

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