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unregistered homeschooling families?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

We are an unschooling family a year or so away from "declaring" our intent to homeschool.  A friend who homeschools 3 older kids mentioned homeschooling "under the radar" and another family she knows has never registered their kids. While we both know this is not how it is supposed to be done, she didn't seem to think the consequences are very steep.  Washington is a pretty lenient state, but the last thing I want is to be forced to send my kids to school if I am found out!  But I looooooooooooooooooove the idea of no supervision!  (Did I include enough "o"s to express how much I really love the idea?)  

    I am of the personality that seethes when other people tell me what to do when they have no good reason for having me do it.  I am an unrepentant scofflaw.  Yes, I can be contrary and might even jump off a bridge because someone told me not to!  But usually I find that my ideas have come about from thoughtfulness and experience, and I don't want someone who knows nothing about my family coming in and telling me what is best.  Ordering me to do what they think is best.  Geez Louise!  The thought of it gets me all quivery and jumpy and I'm looking out for the next convenient bridge just in case....

     Can I really be this calm and play innocent if I get caught?  Will they just as calmly ask me to get busy registering my kids with no further trouble?  Are WA's easy homeschooling laws worth the trouble of dodging?

 

???????

post #2 of 34

I am sure there are local families that can tell you their BTDT stories. If I did not register I would just make sure I have everything required by law handy.In the least I would do the yearly testing to show what level the kids are testing at each year following home lessons.

post #3 of 34

We live in a country where homeschooling is illegal, period. Like you, we are a year away from the point at which enrolling becomes compulsory. We will homeschool under the radar, unless I managed to find another great solution, like convincing the US school here to accept us as enrolled homeschoolers (fee - $20,000 annually - WOW!) or lobbying successfully to change the laws. 

 

If I were in your situation, I would accept the hoops that are "required" to have the legal right to homeschool without consequences. Looking from my point of view, this is a relatively small price to pay for relative freedom. My general attitudes are much the same as yours. 

post #4 of 34

I'm not sure I'd worry about having to send the kids to school.  If you remain unregistered, and are caught, you can face a CPS investigation for educational neglect and also face truancy consequences, which depending on your state can range from jail time and your children removed to steep fines.  Honestly, it's not worth it.  Register.  Do it legally.  By not legally following the steps required for excusal from mandatory school attendance, you are putting all of homeschoolers at risk for even steeper requirements.

 

We live in Ohio...we register our homeschool with the county education office.  Not only do we get excellent teacher discounts at places (even my new Mac laptop was $200 off because of registering!), but nobody monitors me or tells me what to do and when.  I still have the freedom to teach how I see fit, and at the end of the year, I get a certified teacher to look at a sample of DS's work, and write a letter to the district saying he is learning what 2nd graders should be learning.  Easy.  The school district has no say.  I'm not sure what the benefits of NOT registering are...they better be pretty good to risk CPS involvement, jail time, or steep fines.

post #5 of 34

I live in one of the strictest states (Pennsylvania) and I still never felt like anyone is telling us what we have to teach or hanging over us.  To me, it really just amounts to a little bit of paperwork.  We have to hand in an affidavit and our educational objectives at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year we have to have an evaluator look over our portfolio and then we have to hand it into the school district.  We are unschoolers, too, and that hasn't been a problem.  

 

I wouldn't do it under the radar, I think the risks are too scary.  I am thinking CPS involvement and legal trouble for truancy, like the above poster said.  If you DO do it under the radar, have everything you need to homeschool done and ready (not sure what you need in your state..) as well as more to prove you aren't educationally neglecting your child.  But, if you are doing it anyway, why not do it and hand it in and save yourself a lot of possible grief and heartache.

 

Also, if you do it under the radar, what happens if for some reason your children need to go to school down the road?  If you get away with it until high school, what happens then when you child has to start working towards a diploma?   I am sure at some point it will catch up with you.

post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 

Good points, all.  Right now it is simply curiosity and seriously wishful thinking.  I mean, this region is simply crawling with homeschoolers!  We wouldn't stand out.  And is CPS really the first response to a family thought to be homeschooling on the sly?  I could perhaps imagine that in an area that has fewer homeschooling families, but here?  I would think being contacted by the school district would be more likely, but I don't know.  I'm wondering if anyone has had experience with this, or a friend who has had this experience...

post #7 of 34

We live in Arizona where all you do is file an initial intent to homeschool and you are done forever. I've heard tell that many unschoolers still don't file out of fear that in the future someone might change the laws and contact everyone who's filed to tell them they must enroll their kids in school. I have heard that in our state failing to file an affidavit is a misdemeanor that carries a small fine. I don't KNOW any of this, this is just what I've heard.

 

I also know folks that have considered filing so if they move anywhere else, they can say that they are registered homeschoolers in Arizona. If you are living in the US, I don't think that would fly, but maybe if you had a temporary overseas assignment, it might.

 

We'll likely file just to keep it all above board. No one will ever be able to question our intent or the legality of our actions. However, we don't have to do anything except fill out a piece of paper, so it's no big deal.

post #8 of 34
We live in WA and have 1 more year before registering, and I am not having a problem with the idea of registering our intent to continue homeschooling. In Washington you have to file an intent every year once your child is 8 years old with your school district. At the end of the year you have to have a grade level test (I've seen lists float around of recommended ones) or an assessment done, but they don't collect it -- it is for your own records. I imagine if any "questions" about your homeschooling come about, they would be handy to have on hand. I don't have a problem with doing the 2 required things, besides the 11 required subjects to teach (which are pretty basic like math, science, language arts, health etc.). The unschooling families I know in this state also don't mind giving out tests or assessments at the end of the year, and if they don't care than it really must be a non-issue in Washington state.

It is only if you decide to sign-up with k12 or another homeschooling organization that gives you funds, that you might have a lot more restriction on what you do and what you report. But so far the laws in WA seem pretty straight forward, so I see no reason to try to skirt their homeschooling laws.

Here is WA Homeschool Organization link on homeschooling laws in Washington: http://www.washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/law.html
post #9 of 34
If you do register, will someone try to tell you what to do? I don't know the laws in your state, but in Iowa, I send in my paperwork and my supervising teacher (who is a friend of mine) tells them we're not just playing truant, and that's it. Nobody tries to tell us what to do.

That's pretty easy, and the consequences of NOT registering here include being charged with criminal truancy, going to truancy court, being forced to attend public school, being fined, etc. Truancy officers also must report to DHS the names of kids who are truants, and that could result in a DHS investigation, which would obviously involve a lot more government involvement in my life than filing some paperwork, and could result in children being removed from the house. Not worth it.

There's really not any way to prevent the government from knowing that you have children who are school age, even if you don't register them. I guess I don't know what kind of a scenario you're worried about, but if the state decides to get hardcore about it, even if you haven't filed paperwork, they will still know you have kids.
post #10 of 34

Wa laws are really simple, and no, no one TELLS you what to do.  It's not that kind of homeschooling oversight. It's simple to fill out the paperwork.  Completely NOT worth risking getting in trouble/charged with edu. neglect/being involved with CPS.  I'd fill it out and be done with it, rather than constantly worry about it/look over my shoulder.  You don't have to complete your intent form until age 8, I assume you know, so you have plenty of time to become familiar with the requirements. :) 

post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 

I appreciate everyone's replies.

      Here's a question for all you WA homeschoolers, and especially unschoolers: which do you prefer, the assessment or the test?   Why?  Have you tried one and switched to the other, and why?  What are your experiences from district to district?  If you are close to declaring but haven't yet, which would you prefer?  Maybe this question deserves its own thread.  

    I also want to assure all the PPs (such anxiousness, thank you!) that I have been intending to do this aboveboard all along, and this is the year to get myself educated about the process.  A friend mentioned that she and another family aren't registered and haven't been, and being such a knee-jerk anarchist the idea sounded intriguing and I just had to ask about it.  I am trying to find out as much as I can about the process, even from those who have rejected the process.  I mean, what would lead a family to take such risks doing this?  Decades ago, when the right to educate your children was not universally recognized in the US, families risked all kinds of terrible outcomes in order to homeschool.  What would lead a family to do it now, when every state now recognizes homeschooling in some form or another?

     

post #12 of 34
We are not registered yet, and I wanted to go with the assessments because I would like to just know in general how well my students are doing and where I can improve. I also don't like the idea of a test because I personally do not like them - especially the fill in the bubble ones! I spoke with an unschooler and she likes the tests - and she especially likes the ones I don't like (the fill in the bubble ones)! My DH says he likes the tests too, because it will give them some exposure to that type an exam -- because eventually if they do enter college or another school environment the concept won't be foreign to them. I personally don't see though how they can test for history or similar subjects at such young age and really gauge anything especially if you are teaching different time periods etc. Haven't decided yet -- maybe I will leave this decision up to my DH so I don't have to think about it!
post #13 of 34

I'm not registering... but in my state it isn't required.  It is only "recommended."  I see no point. If you do your district has the right to require you to submit to portfolio review.  The point of that is just to prove education took place in each of the required areas.  NOT to determine if your child is advancing.  You can bring in one math worksheet from the first day of school and call it good in that subject.

 

One of the local homeschool associations says you should register.  Their argument is if people don't, and just try to lay low, then that will make it seem like we are hiding something giving reason to authorities to try and toughen the laws and make it a requirement. 

 

I just can't be bothered to be honest.

post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GnomeyNewt View Post

We are not registered yet, and I wanted to go with the assessments because I would like to just know in general how well my students are doing and where I can improve. I also don't like the idea of a test because I personally do not like them - especially the fill in the bubble ones! I spoke with an unschooler and she likes the tests - and she especially likes the ones I don't like (the fill in the bubble ones)! My DH says he likes the tests too, because it will give them some exposure to that type an exam -- because eventually if they do enter college or another school environment the concept won't be foreign to them. I personally don't see though how they can test for history or similar subjects at such young age and really gauge anything especially if you are teaching different time periods etc. Haven't decided yet -- maybe I will leave this decision up to my DH so I don't have to think about it!


I used to think that I wouldn't like testing, but then the alternative would be having to deal with a live human being.  Maybe testing is more anonymous? Damn, I really need to make this its own thread!

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by MommaCrystal View Post

 

I just can't be bothered to be honest.


This is me!  But I'm sure we will be "registering" (in our state "declaring") because really not much is required.  I wish I wish I wish our state would give us the option....

 

post #15 of 34

In my state, it's pretty much just paperwork, so for me, it seems easier to jump through the hoops/  I can relate to your sentiment, however.  It gets my goat that there is someone telling me what is okay to do for my child.  But really, in most states, it is your legal right, and registering actually helps support that right, IMO.  I would also encourage you to join and support your state's homeschool group that monitors laws on homeschooling.  We have one here, and they work tirelessly to be sure our rights to homeschool are preserved and expanded.  I am very grateful for the work they do!

 

As for your question on assessment vs test, I think it depends somewhat on your child.  I hated the idea of doing testing for my young children, I just hated the very nature of a test and it went against everything that I believed about learning.  So, we went with the option of having a teacher do an assessment, where they talk to us about what we did that year and write a letter saying the child is advancing and learning.  I love this because it gives me a record of all we did that year, and it also helps put things into perspective for me.  Whenever I read that yearly letter after our meeting, I realize, wow, they really are learning all the time!

post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post




I used to think that I wouldn't like testing, but then the alternative would be having to deal with a live human being.  Maybe testing is more anonymous? Damn, I really need to make this its own thread!

 




This is me!  But I'm sure we will be "registering" (in our state "declaring") because really not much is required.  I wish I wish I wish our state would give us the option....

 


I'm not in WA, but we can do portfolio or test. I test. I tested the year before we had to file, actually, to see how DD would test overall, if the testing process would stress her out or not. She likes testing and tests well, so we've stuck with it. Here in NY, you only have to make 33% or better, and only on math and reading, not the full range of subjects. Since DD always scores super high, testing's never been a concern. Also, in the early CAT tests (K, 1, 2) there are a couple of different options that qualify as valid tests for all three grade levels. 

 

post #17 of 34

it's been almost 10 years, but my mom only had to do 5-10 minutes of paperwork each year for 4 kids, she was able to not even declare our grades and was able to opt out of the testing/assessment, and this was in WA. 

post #18 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marissamom View Post

it's been almost 10 years, but my mom only had to do 5-10 minutes of paperwork each year for 4 kids, she was able to not even declare our grades and was able to opt out of the testing/assessment, and this was in WA. 

How was she able to "opt out"?
 

 

post #19 of 34

My kids are older and I live in a moderate-to-high regulation state.

 

I know things are different in each state, but HERE, when homeschooled teens want to get working papers for employment or attend community college, they need paperwork from the school district. Something to think about.

 

I don't know about Washington, but some states have "religious exemptions" that allow a family to opt-out of testing and grades. I know Virginia does this, because we homeschooled there for three years. I don't agree with special rights for certain groups of homeschoolers, but they exist.

 

Believe me, I've been tempted to go under the radar more than once. We've moved a lot, so it wouldn't have been too hard. But a potential run-in with the law wasn't worth it, for me. I also didn't want to make things harder for my kids to get jobs or take classes if they wanted to do so.

post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post



How was she able to "opt out"?
 

 


I'm not sure exactly, and I don't know if they still will let you (this was pre-No Child Left Behind). at the time public school kids could opt out of standardized testing as well.

 

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