Looking to move...best/worst homeschooling states? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 39 Old 10-18-2006, 10:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm on the job market this year and can apply to jobs anywhere they pop up. Homeschooling is important to us, but I can't research extensively each and every state at this point.

I've looked at the basic state laws but I know that's not the entire story, so I thought I'd check with you mamas.

What states are homeschooling/unschooling-friendliest? Least friendly? Ideally, I'm interested in being somewhere we can network with other homeschooling families and allow dd to be involved in other activities with school kids.

Oh, and we're also vax-free, so if you happen to know about that while you share info and reputations about homeschooling, I'd be very grateful.

Thank you very much!
Jude
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#2 of 39 Old 10-18-2006, 10:53 PM
 
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We've lived in (therefore homeschooled in) several states. We've never had a problem following the law in any of the states we've been in, and I don't think that homeschool laws are a good way to decide where to live. There are SOOO many more important things.

That being said, Arizona was my favorite state for homeschooling.

*The laws are relaxed. You file a notorized affadavit (sp?) one time for your child and you are done for ever.

* There are tons of homeschoolers of all stripes. Homeschooling is normal. When we people find out you homeschool, they say things like, "my sister (or neighbor or guy from work) homeschools." No stupid question, no weird assumptions.

* The schools are on a variety of schedules, many with short summer breaks and long spring and fall breaks, a few go year round with breaks spread out, SO no one ever questions seeing school aged kids out and about, because no one can keep track of the all the different school schedules.

* It is written into the state law that homeschoolers can participate in competitive school sports. It never came up for us, but I liked that it was the law.

* The superintendant of schools for our county was very supportive of homeschooling and attended homeschooling meetings when asked, and helped homeschoolers access services for special needs kids through the school system.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 39 Old 10-18-2006, 10:56 PM
 
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haven't homeschooled, but i know lots of parents in pa do. and i think we also have the law that says all children can participate in extracurriculars regardless of whether they are homeschooled or not.
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#4 of 39 Old 10-18-2006, 11:01 PM
 
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All you have to do in CO is send a letter of intent to the superintendant of schools in your area 14 days before the start of school. They can require an evaluation in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. I believe if they don't ask you don't have to do anything. One of my homeschooling buddies is a psychologist and is qualified to give an evaluation. She said that if you don't "school at home" through the public schools they, generally, don't ask for evaluations unless they suspect there is a problem.

Colorado schools allow a philosophical vax exemption. I've never had a problem refusing vaxes.

We have not been homeschooling long at all but our homeschooling friends have not had any problems.

Boulder is a very crunchy area and is your best bet for an ap/nfl, unschooling friendly area. Colorado Springs and Denver are large but a good bet for finding a homeschooling group.

Obviously the smaller the town, the smaller the choices but I live in a fairly small town and our homeschooling group has been a great support.

Good luck!
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#5 of 39 Old 10-18-2006, 11:09 PM
 
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Have you checked out hslda.com site? They have a color-coded map of the US showing how the states stand as far as which are more supportive of homeschoolers. Definitely recommend checking it out. They also give a breakdown of laws and options in each state.
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#6 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 03:34 AM
 
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Oklahoma is a good state. All that is required is to provide an "alternative means of education". That's it. Thre are several homeschool communities in the state, including a rather good sized unschooling group.

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#7 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 09:45 AM
 
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In terms of less regulation and intrusion, Indiana is a great state for homeschooling! There is the recommendation that you notify the DOE that you are homeschooling and then you are supposed to produce proof of attendance if requested. That's it. There are no requirements re: curriculum or testing or meeting with/getting permission from the school system or superintendent.

We actually live right next door to the elementary school my guys would attend if we didn't homeschool. And I feel absolutely no discomfort in them playing in the yard during school hours.

Indiana is a pretty active homeschool state too. Here in the metro Indy area there are a variety of homeschooling groups. And the state homeschooling conference is here each spring.

I've told DH that if he ever wants to job-hunt he has to limit the search to 'good' homeschooling states. I don't want to land somewhere where I have to fight to homeschool, or submit my children for regular standardized testing. I have a huge philosophical problem with those tests anyway...

HTH,

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#8 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 09:51 AM
 
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I'm in Maine and have found the laws easy to comply with. They sound restrictive and if you go to the state wide homeschooling group's website they make it really complicated (apparently they are hooked up with HSLDA and ask for WAY more then state law requires), but really it's not. They call for assessments or testing every year (we have ours done by a teacher who is open to HS), teaching of certain subjects (nobody has ever asked for proof), attendance for 175 days (ditto), and filing a yearly NOI. My assessment generally consists of presenting an outline of what we covered (with curriculum or not) and talking with the teacher. She then signs off and we send in the form along with the NOI. Done! I keep an attendance record (basically start in July and mark days on our schedule until I hit 175), a copy of the form and NOI and some work samples every year. Maine also allows for a philosophical exemption for vaccines which is nice.
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#9 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 10:30 AM
 
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I have homeschooled in NC & am currently homeschooling in GA. Both were/are VERY easy!

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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#10 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 10:35 AM
 
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Texas is another easy state to homeschool in. There are no reporting requirements.
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#11 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 11:12 AM
 
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Illinois is easy to homeschool as well. I'm in central illinois (technically in east central if you really look at it) and I've heard inderect stories about schools giving homeschoolers a hard time in parts of the northern and southern ends of the state but then again that has been the odd superentendant trying to make themselves bigger then they are.

According the the law here as long as you are teaching the same core subjects as the local schools and the law states (english, math, science, health ect...) you are basically all good. According to the law the only thing they can do to check up on you if any questions arise is send you a letter asking if you are following the law and you don't even have to send a reply letter back.

There are lots of homeschool groups and once a friend of mine has kiddos I think the number of groups will go up again.
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#12 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 11:33 AM
 
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La. - yearly letter of intent and that's it, as long as you tell them you are operating as a "private school." No tests, no curriculum requirements, and no proof of attendence required. But HSing isn't very common and most people outside of HSing groups will think you are a little wierd for doing it.

Single mom of 2 boys
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#13 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 11:38 AM
 
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Michigan. There is zero reporting, no attendance, no assessments, no testing, no portfolio, nothing. And in the area I am from, tons of homeschoolers, activities, and some great support groups, secular and otherwise.

Good Luck in your Journey!
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#14 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 12:18 PM
 
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I love Virginia, but don't come here for the ease of homeschooling. We are required to test (or submit a portfolio for evaluation) yearly after age 6 in addition to other requirements.
Lots of hsers and hsing opportunities, though.

Vax laws are also stricter than I am used to (TX was easy).
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#15 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 01:47 PM
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I think most states are pretty easy, and H$LDA's map can be really misleading.

Here is another link to homeschooling laws in various states:
http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/...Legalities.htm
sans spin... really, in 30 seconds you could check the laws for any state in which you planned to apply for a job, and most are pretty self-explanatory. You might ask more about any states with laws about testing, portfolios or getting permission, but otherwise you're probably in the clear...

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#16 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 03:13 PM
 
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This link lists the degree of government oversight of homeschoolers that is required by each state. I found it interesting. When I posted this on an unschooling list, the perception was that those "moderate" states weren't so hard for unschoolers. It depends a lot on how much you want to be associated with the school systems. Some states require oversight; some only require registering; some require centralized testing; some require standardized testing; some don't even require registering with the state.

http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp



HTH, Pat

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#17 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 03:30 PM
 
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I know that PA and NY are supposed to be the most regulated states to homeschool in. I'm in PA. Right now my oldest won't be compulsory attendance age for 3 more years, but I have the law pretty much memorized. PA requires a bunch of paperwork sent to the school district and yearly evaluations by a qualified evaluator of your choice. A portfolio and the eval letter get sent tt the school district at the end of the year and in grades 3, 5, and 8 you are required to submit the results of standardized testing. Having said all that, I've heard that it's really easy to meet all the requirements and most people don't have any trouble. There are a lot of homeschoolers in PA. Even unschoolers have no trouble meeting the requirements. For instance it isn't hard to generate paper for the protfolio and the law only states you need a few samples. You choose your own evaluator and there are a bunch here that are unschool friendly. The testing is the hardest to get around. But I have heard of people who never submitted the tests because their kids were never in those particular grades. How lenient they are actually depends on each individual school district, since the law was written so vaguely. Oh and vaccines are easy to get around. You just sign a statement that you are religiously or morally opposed. I've actually known people who did vax who signed the exemption because they didn't think it was anybody elses business.
There are a lot more requirements here than in other places but they are quite easy to get done or get around so I'm not sure it really is harder to homeschool here than in some other places, unless you could possibly move to a place where the requirements are nothing. And we are allowed to participate in any extracurriculars through the local schools and most districts offer special ed services to homeschoolers evnt hough they don't have to according to our law. If you were lookingi n to that type of thing. Personally my family isn't interested in working with the schools for that stuff.
Hope that helped some or at least made sense.
nak
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#18 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 04:17 PM
 
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Sorry to say, but the more conservative a state is, the easier it is to homeschool in. The most restrictive states are the most liberal -- and the most livable in my opinion! That said, homeschooling is completely mainstream absolutely everywhere. This is the first generation of children who will ask their parents, "Why didn't you guys homeschool me?!??"

Anyway, very conservative places, such as Texas, are easy. Liberal places, like New England and parts of the Northern MidWest states, are tough.

I'm in CO which is considered to be kind of "medium," but which isn't any big deal to me. Personally, I'm not bothered by any hoops I might have to jump through. I'm completely commited to homeschooling and really not worth messing with.

peace,
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#19 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 04:36 PM
 
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The HSLDS map is misleading. It has Missouri as a green (easy) state and MO has more regulations that any other state we've lived in -- we are required to have 1000 hours a year, 600 of which are core subjects and 400 of which are core subjects taught at home; maintain a portfolio;and have yearly "assessment." There isn't a requirment to turn any of this in, but if you are going to follow the law here, it is a bit of a PITA. (We do our best to stay legal.)

It has Arizona and Kansas has "yellow" (harder than green) states. I would rank both of these as easy. Kansas requires you fill out one form for your whole family -- it is short form that requires you have a name for your homeschool. That's it -- you gotta have a name. It's a silly rule, but quite easy to follow. Arizona, as I said before, is a requirement for one piece of paper for your child for the entire time you homeschool in the state.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#20 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 04:42 PM
 
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NY state is bad, unless you are in NYC, where you will more than likely fall through the cracks and rarely or never have your paperwork responded to. However they lose paperwork all the time here, and even if you have registered mail receipts, they will still treat you as though you have submitted nothing. But they are so overwhelmed, consequences are rare (but they have happened).
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#21 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 06:04 PM
 
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Alaska is a great homeschooling state. We used to homeschool and it was so easy with tons of support.
about 40% of our kids in this state are homeschooled.

Vax regs are also easy here.


Have fun looking. Moving is so much fun!
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#22 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 06:26 PM
 
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In Florida, you just sent a letter of intent once a year, then hand in an annual "evaluation" from a certified teacher (we use a homeschooling friendly teacher, the homeschool groups usually know a list of them and pay about $30 a child). It's really just a piece of paper that the teacher signs, after looking at a portfolio. You are also supposed to keep a portfolio but no one I know has ever been requested to show it, at least in this county. Pretty easy.
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#23 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 06:28 PM
 
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Someone already has said Illinois--and it's true. It's very easy here. There's nothing you have to report to anyone--so, particularly good for unschooling.

Also, the Chicago metro area has a few Doctors that are anti vax, or at least tolerant. Homefirst is a doctor assisted homebirth practice and many patients don't vax there. They have several offices throughout the Chicago area.

Chicago itself is wonderful for homeschoolers--lots of museums and cultural events.

HTH

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#24 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 07:31 PM
 
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I think if you can go ANYWHERE......pick a state that has no regulations. I used to live in PA and while sure, I was ABLE to follow their regulations, why would I choose to if I could choose a place where I didn't have to do anything?! Now that I'm in Michigan where there is nothing to be done, it's much better. I prefer to be autonomous.

Also, watch out for states mamas have said require "evaluations"....depending on how you feel about it, it does put your children through something you may not want them to have to do. I know that I would loathe having to take my unschooled children for any kind of testing and I feel it would harm them. And though I know there are teachers out there who will put their stamp of approval on unschooling, I would still loathe having to hire a teacher to "certify" our progress.

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#25 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 07:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
I think if you can go ANYWHERE......pick a state that has no regulations. I used to live in PA and while sure, I was ABLE to follow their regulations, why would I choose to if I could choose a place where I didn't have to do anything?! Now that I'm in Michigan where there is nothing to be done, it's much better. I prefer to be autonomous.

Also, watch out for states mamas have said require "evaluations"....depending on how you feel about it, it does put your children through something you may not want them to have to do. I know that I would loathe having to take my unschooled children for any kind of testing and I feel it would harm them. And though I know there are teachers out there who will put their stamp of approval on unschooling, I would still loathe having to hire a teacher to "certify" our progress.
The evaluations we do don't involve the children at all. I bring a portfolio (basically an outline of what all we covered and maybe some samples of work like a sugar cube pyramid or a story they wrote) and as long as they have made progress (and really who hasn't?) we get our form signed. I have several friends who unschool and have no problems. I can understand wanting to avoid state involvement altogether, but I wanted to clarify that it require my child to do anything, just me.

And I agree that no regs is ideal, but I think one has to look at the other aspects of living in a state and find one that is a good fit all around.
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#26 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 08:06 PM
 
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I would really consider the resources available to you - not just the state regulations.

Depending on what your priorites are in homeschooling, maybe somewhere where land is cheap so you could build a chicken coup, have a woodworking shop, and plant a garden. Or maybe a big city with museums, good libraries, theater. Or if your child is musical, somewhere with lots of opportunities for that. Or some magical land where you can find all these things!

I've meet many homeschoolers in my area, but they have largely tended to be religious (and homeschooling for that reason). Something else to consider. But there seen to be some good options available, for example my town's recreation department offers swim lessons/team for homeschoolers (held in the middle of the day) and I've seen karate classes in the middle of the day for homeschoolers also.

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#27 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 08:07 PM
 
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The evaluations we do don't involve the children at all. I bring a portfolio (basically an outline of what all we covered and maybe some samples of work like a sugar cube pyramid or a story they wrote) and as long as they have made progress (and really who hasn't?) we get our form signed. I have several friends who unschool and have no problems
I know, mama. And that's so good! But states.....and even places within a state, vary widely in what they expect of the evaluations, and in their availablity of teachers who are sympathetic to unschoolers.

And progress is in the eye of the beholder. I have no idea if a teacher would find my children have made progress......I don't know her definition of it.

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#28 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 08:11 PM
 
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We lived in CT until my son was 3; I'm never got too into the laws there so I'm not sure how difficult it is to hs there but I know there were very, very few hsers there. At least where we were. I have a friend who hs there now and she's in a group that has members in three counties.

We're in AZ now. Like someone said it is one piece of paper once. You sign saying you will actually teach them english, math, science, etc. The end. There are tons and tons of hsers here (probably because AZ ranks 50th in public schools). The valley itself has tons of unschooler, classical, religious, etc groups - just about anything you can think of. My eldest is extremely social so he just started going to a hs enrichment program at a public school. It's one day a week, free because it's public school, every child there is hs'ed, there is no testing and no academics. It's all the 'enrichment' subjects - art, music, pe, computer, library, etc. Many swimming, gymnastics, karate, art classes are offered here during the day because there are so many hsers.

Personally I think it is more important to have a lot of other hs'ers around than just ease of requirements alone. My kids love that they can go to a park and odds are good there will be other kids there. We take swimming (even my 6 yo), art during the day. Have our choice of about 50 hs support groups. Not every child they know is in school during the day.
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#29 of 39 Old 10-19-2006, 08:53 PM
 
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South Carolina is HS'ing friendly. You have to register with an accountability association but everything is fairly lax.

Stacey reading.gif Happy wife to Rick coolshine.gif ,homeschooling Mama to Jacob, Noel, Joanna jumpers.gif  and a sweet stork-girl.gif due in the Spring!
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#30 of 39 Old 10-20-2006, 12:05 AM
 
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Wisconsin only requires we submit a form annually to the state-- no follow-up. I'm not sure what the rules are, but I met a homeschooler whose kids took some "non-core" courses at the local ps middle school.

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