anyone home schooling "under the radar"? - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > anyone home schooling "under the radar"?
lovermont's Avatar lovermont 09:23 PM 12-01-2011

We are likely moving to another state soon-ish. The state we are looking to move to has much stricter home schooling requirements and I'm finding them intimidating. I mentioned this to a friend's mom who home schooled my friend "back in the day". She said she went to a home schooling conference when she was home schooling and those that were in more challenging states would say they just didn't let the state know they had school aged children. This was being frowned upon in the home schooling community as it didn't validate home schooling.

Just wondering if anyone is doing this now and what potential consequences could be.

moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 10:10 PM 12-01-2011

Not us. I think one of the "potential consequences" could be getting charged and convicted for your kids' truancy, being subject to intervention by child protection services and all that. Of course that's a worst-case scenario. Unlikely, but still...


I would encourage you to get in touch with people in your new state who are dealing with those regulations you find so intimidating. Because typically they look a lot worse than they are. I live in a low-regulation jurisdiction, but am voluntarily availing myself of some funding and support that comes at the the price of very high regulation. We are required to have weekly contact with a teacher who supervises our homeschooling, to sign off with the teacher on an annual learning plan (a.k.a. curriculum), to get report cards issued by the teacher, "expected outcomes" are mandated by the government, there's compulsory standardized testing. 


And yet ... we merrily unschool with no difficulty. Our teacher is simply an enthusiastic observer of my kids' natural learning, and translates what we are doing into education-ese to create a paper trail. "Contact" means as little as a casual email that says "Busy this week as usual." Our learning plans say things like "The following resources will be made available: ____, ____, ____ etc." and "Learning in this area will be motivated by serendipity and curiosity." And the standardized testing is a couple of mornings every three years which my kids have found straightforward and really almost enjoyable for their novelty, and the results have no impact on our ability to homeschool. 


So don't run underground because the regulations look intimidating. The reality may be very different, and I would suggest you talk to unschoolers in the state you're planning on moving to in order to get their read on how difficult the rules are to abide by.



dogretro's Avatar dogretro 10:14 PM 12-01-2011

We live in a high-reg state and will not be flying under the radar.  For one thing, we are foster parents and the last thing we need is to be red-flagged about anything related to our children.  I agree w/ Miranda that you should talk to other parents in that state.  I was completely freaked out by PA's regs and they turned me off of homeschooling until I talked to other parents (including radical unschoolers) who told me what meeting the regs actually looked like.  I do know that truancy fines are not cheap.

zebra15's Avatar zebra15 12:45 AM 12-02-2011

I live in a low/no reg state and run a homeschool group.  I work with families about homeschooling and HS options available.  Just because out state is low reg doesn't mean 'nothing gets done'.  Some families want records and high structure etc.  I would advise following whatever your state has set forth.  

If you don;t like it, advocate for change but please don't ignore the rules!

lovermont's Avatar lovermont 07:28 AM 12-02-2011

Thanks so much for the reminder that the regs are scarier in writing than in practice. We are currently in VT and I remember being super super nervous and overwhelmed with what I needed to do - but in the end it was no big deal.

We're potentially moving over the border to upstate NY and it looks like quarterly reports are due with an explanation for why goals have not been met if they haven't and yearly standardized tests.

elizawill's Avatar elizawill 07:46 AM 12-02-2011

i wouldn't.


fwiw, i've lived in more heavily regulated states & often it just appears more intimidating than it is (actually, my current state is somewhat regualted too).  for example, when i lived in SC, it really looked liked a pain to homeschool there if you just read the laws. however, it was no big deal at all.  i live in FL, and i will actually have to meet with an evaluator this year, which is a first to me. i was fairly intimidated by that, but after discussing it with new friends here, i'm no longer concerned. not to mention, many states have more than one option for homeschoolers.  what state is it?

SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 08:43 AM 12-02-2011

I posted a similar thread months ago and didn't get any responses that suggested it was a good idea.  Thirty years ago, many states treated homeschooling as if it were illegal, and many brave pioneering families put themselves on the line to do what they knew to be their right, sometimes risking everything.  The situation is different now.  No state treats homeschooling as illegal, though some requirements are more onerous than others.  Homeschooling in general, despite sometimes embarrassing or negative press, is becoming generally accepted.  Even Brad Pitt talks up homeschooling (though I have no clue what he means by that, or what his family's day looks like.)  So the climate is changing.  Even those states with strict requirements seem to not be as tyrannical as it seems on first glance.  One *big* difference that has been pointed out is accepting public funds to subsidize your homeschooling.  If you accept that, you probably need to accept more oversight.  (I don't, I won't..... If you pay taxes, of course, you want oversight.  But *I* do not want to be on the receiving end of that oversight.  I get it.  So I don't accept any help at all.)


I'll be one that won't discourage this kind of move outright, because as a certified scofflaw I have more than my share of disregard for the arm of the law (or "blind authority" I call it in my more cynical moments.)  BUT, you would not be making any profound political statement by going underground like the families that pioneered modern homeschooling.  You would, essentially, be making the choice because of personal preference about a style of homeschooling for your family.  I suppose there could be a larger statement one could make about freedom of education, but it would be minor compared to the battles that have been fought and won already.

puzzlepeace's Avatar puzzlepeace 09:47 AM 12-02-2011

Not sure what NY regs are, but I would look specifically for people there who are homeschoolers to bounce thoughts off of. I know my cousins in a high-reg state (PA) have been very helpful to me in figuring out what is and isn't important.  We are in MD and have what I would consider moderate regulations. I just turned in (in person) my fall review form and could tell that I went way above what most local homeschoolers do by the secretaries response.  It gave me a chance to ask a few questions, but was so tame compared to what I envisioned. Maybe someone more local to where you will move could give insight. 


As far as going under the radar, I wouldn't.  I have had friends with teenagers who refused to go to school (truancy) end up with $$$ fines, possible court time and one who lost custody of the child.  Truancy is taken very seriously in most areas and that in itself would cause me to register, etc.

SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 10:14 AM 12-03-2011

Here's how it *might* work.


You live in an region that is crawling with homeschoolers, so that when you are out and about on a school day no one will bat an eyelash.


You live in a large school district.  Ours is tiny, classified as 1B.  People would figure it out.


Your neighbors are well known and sympathetic (in general-- you wouldn't tell them you are unregistered).  Our neighbor across the street is the secretary for the school district.  She might figure it out, but if she did she wouldn't call CPS.  She'd talk to me first.  At least, I'd be mighty shocked if she didn't.  Our neighbors (pretty much the whole town) see us with our kids all the time.  I doubt seriously in our area that CPS would be the very first response to seeing kids not in school.  But you can never-- never!-- take this assumption for granted.


You and your kids are together.  It does not do when you are homeschooling under the radar to have your kids out on the town riding their bikes with no parents in sight.  The school district *will* get a call.  (Don't you know?  Kids need to buckle under and learn that life isn't all about them.  Work!  Work!  Work!  The Daily Grind sucks and kids should figure that out early!  thumb.gif)


I am not advising you should do this.  You *should* ask around, because all the pp's are right-- most of the time the regs are not as onerous in practice as they seem in writing.

Climbing Rose's Avatar Climbing Rose 03:32 PM 12-03-2011

We are on the radar, just for the record.  I think we have always followed the HS law, through our moves. 


But I have known people that don't register.  And I bet they aren't on message boards talking about it, for obvious reasons.  =)

People who don't register might also tend to be slightly paranoid (of the gov't in general, etc), yk?  I say that in total understanding of their views.


I really think it depends on where you live, how strongly you feel about it, how bad the law is, etc, etc.


Honestly, I don't think anyone should have to register to NOT go to school.  It seems wrong to me on a really basic level.

Why should you be compelled to register to *not* use something? 

I think the schools have enough issues without being compelled by law to follow around people who opt-out, but that's just me.


If you really don't want to register, maybe there is a way out.  I don't know.  I have heard of people finding loopholes sometimes. 

Sometimes if you are religious, there are exemptions too.


We don't live in NY though, so I can't help much.


Good luck!

my3monkees's Avatar my3monkees 07:32 PM 12-03-2011

Don't worry NY is NOT as scary as it looks on paper. We are in our 10th year homeschooling in NY, no big deal. Alot will depend on the individual districts. Every year my district send me a big scary envelope with all kinds of things to fill out. Every year I throw it all away and send them the most basic info I can. Never a problem. Quarterly reports for younger grades are nothing more than a list of subjects with an S for satisfactory next to them, and the hours we have put in. By the way I don't actually keep track of my hours, I figure we school 24 hr a day. I just put down the required hours and leave it at that. Now I am dealing with high school quarterlies they are still not a problem.  I just look at the books index, and write down the chapter titles and subtitles, and give a letter grade. Not that I actually, worry about grades I just pick a letter at random. Standardized test are only required every other year from grades 4-8. If you pick grades 5 and 7, your good and only 2 test. 9-12 are yearly, but still not a problem. It says you need to have them administered by a teacher. But I never have and don't know of anyone else who does. We all just purchase them, I use

Seaton, and send the school the results, its accepted no problem. You will do fine! HTH

Climbing Rose's Avatar Climbing Rose 02:23 PM 12-05-2011



thank you for posting that!  that makes me feel better and i don't even live in new york! 


it is a lot like that in my state too.  it looks terrible on paper, but really doesn't come down to much in real life.

amygentry's Avatar amygentry 05:08 PM 12-05-2011

I was home schooled in New York. I guess my mom & dad had to jump through some hoops to stay 'on the radar' (not that they had much choice, probably), but the work paid off when it was time to apply to colleges. I ended up in a very good school and I'm sure my carefully documented track record helped.

Tags: Homeschooling , Unschooling