Homschooling FAQs

  • 1. Is homeschooling legal in Texas?
    Yes. Homeschooling has never been illegal in Texas. Around the turn of the 20th century, the first compulsory attendance laws were passed here in Texas. At the time, only about 10% of the school-aged population was attending state funded schools. Those initial compulsory attendance laws exempted students enrolled in some form of private education, to include homeschooling. Article 7, Section 2 of the Texas Constitution forbids the state from regulating private education and the Texas Education Code, Section 1.001(a) states that it only applies to schools "supported in whole or in part by state funds." These statues alone protect the right to home education without state interference in Texas.

    However, these provisions did not deter the Texas Education Agency from drafting policy in 1981 that claimed "educating a child at home is not the same as private school instruction and therefore not an acceptable substitute." As a direct result of that policy statement, several Texas school districts attempted legal action against over 100 home educating families. In response to this series of prosecutions, several homeschooling families, as well as others with a vested interest in guaranteeing Texas homeschool freedoms, filed suite against the TEA in what has become known as the Leeper case. Texas Education Agency, et. al. vs. Leeper, et. al. made its way to the Texas Supreme Court in 1994. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court and Court of Appeals' rulings in favor of Leeper. The ruling affirmed home education as private education and therefore not within the TEA's jurisdiction to control.

    Since Leeper, two main schools of thought have arisen related the homeschool freedoms in Texas. One interpretation of the Leeper ruling takes its guidelines directly from the ruling judge's published opinion and explains that any home educating family, schooling "in a bona fide manner" and having a curriculum "consisting of books, workbooks, other written materials, including that which appears on a computer screen or video tape monitor, . . . developed or obtained from any source" that is "designed to meet basic education goals of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship" is in full compliance with the law and nothing further is required.

    The other interpretation goes even further, stating that the Leeper opinion merely confirmed that homeschooling has been and continues to be free from all government oversight and a perfectly legal option for Texas families to pursue. Which interpretation is more correct has yet to be settled by the courts and may never be determined. The bottom line remains that homeschooling in Texas is legal.

    Although there continues to be certain pieces of legislation that could negatively affect homeschoolers, such as daytime curfews and whatnot, there are currently (as of 2009) no major challenges to the fundamental parental freedom to home educate within either the legislature or the courts in Texas. If you would like to review relevant statutes and case law for yourself, which we highly recommend, this link (http://www.homeschoolingintexas.com/gettingstarted/legal/statelaws.aspx) is a good place to start.
  • 2. How many American children are currently home educated? How many Texas children?
    Current estimates, released in December 2008 (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009030.pdf) by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES,) are based on data from 2007 and indicate at least 1.5 million children (or 2.9% of the school-aged population) in the United States are home educated. Many researchers feel that the actual number may, in fact, be much higher than the NCES report as a result of high home educating populations in states such as Texas that do not require homeschoolers to register with the state. The National Home Education Research Institute places the estimate at over 2 million children. The size of the home educated population continues to rise in comparison to the previous reports issued by the NCES and based on data gathered in 1999 and 2003. In eight years, the home educated population in the United States rose by over 76%. In January 2009, in response to the NCES report, the Texas Home School Coalition issued a statement (http://www.thsc.org/news_and_resources/TexasLeads.asp) estimating the homeschool population to be around 300,000 Texas school-aged children. They estimate the growth rate of the Texas homeschool population has been approximately 6-8% annually since the Leeper decision.
  • 3. Why are families choosing to home educate?
    Contrary to popular cultural myth, there are a wide variety of reasons American families choose to home educate. The NCES report attempted to gather a certain amount of data as to the primary reasons families decide to homeschool. Although religious/moral instruction was the top reason for home educating for 36% of the survey respondents, 64% of the respondents chose a different reason as their most important decision making factor, including concerns about the school environment (21%,) dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available in schools (17%,) interest in using a nontraditional educational philosophy (7%,) and a variety of other reasons (12%) to include family time, travel desires, and family finances. HELD families' reasons for home educating also vary widely. You can read a handful of them if you visit our From Our Members page.
  • 4. How do I get started homeschooling in Texas
    If you are removing your child from the public school system, many Texas homeschool advocacy groups strongly recommend that you notify the principal or school in writing so they are not expecting your child to return. You are not required by law to do this, but it may prevent further inquiry by the school system. A simple letter stating nothing more than the fact that your child will now be home educated and will not be returning to that school will be more than sufficient. You do not need to explain to them why you are making that decision or what your home educating plans might be. If your child has never been in school, you can just begin homeschooling whenever you are ready. Many homeschooling parents join a group like HELD to get started within a supportive community that welcomes questions and concerns from new homeschoolers. There are also several homeschool stores in the area that give you the opportunity to review different curriculum options that might fit your needs. Many of them are listed on our Links page.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at: learningadventuresfb@yahoo.com or through our Facebook page

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