by Thatcher Townson — Texas Home School Coalition
“There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” President Ronald Reagan. Liberty also contracts when government gets involved in how the laws of physics are taught, would liberty shrink if the government determined that parents could not teach their children physics? Fortunately, it is legal to homeschool in all 50 states; however, there are roadblocks. Common roadblocks include daytime curfews, truancy laws, and state approval of curriculum or teachers.
Dallas provides us with an example of a daytime curfew. The Dallas curfew prohibits students under the age of 17 from being outside school from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm on school days. By Texas law, cities can enact daytime curfews, and many do not have exemptions for homeschooling. This can expose homeschooling families to fines and court proceedings.
Truancy laws in Texas state that students cannot have more than 10 unexcused absences in a 6-month period. If a student has too many absences, they are prosecuted and can receive fines and other forms of punishment such as community service. Although there is a homeschooling exemption in the law, it is easy for school districts to use the law, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to harm homeschoolers. In other states, truancy laws are much harder to avoid because the requirements to homeschool are more stringent.
A separate, though closely related, roadblock is curriculum or teacher approval. Fortunately, in Texas homeschools are labeled as private schools and are lightly regulated. However, in other states such as California it can be difficult to homeschool. In California, one must either hire a certified tutor for 3 hours a day, 175 days a year, or one must be a part of a public or private school home study program. These laws effectively force parents to either become certified by the state, or enroll their children in public or private schools. These restrictions also exacerbate issues with truancy laws, because homeschool students not being taught by a certified teacher or enrolled in a public or private school are truants. In California, I would be a truant.
There are “good intentions” behind each of these roadblocks, but each can limit parental rights and liberty. This is why it is vital to have organizations like the Texas Home School Coalition fighting to keep government limited, so that liberty and parental rights can expand.