Some parents avoid truancy court by claiming to homeschool their kids. WV law says that’s okay.
We want all West Virginia kids to attend school regularly and get a good education. We have laws that hold parents accountable if they don’t send their kids to school. But a homeschool law (HB 4175) passed in 2016 is allowing some parents to avoid truancy violations and has lowered the educational standards for homeschooled students.
The law made it much easier for parents to yank their kids out of school, even if they have little education themselves. Now they simply notify the school they are going to homeschool and later provide documentation of their high school diploma or even only a GED.
Annual reporting of test results is no longer required and homeschoolers can score as low as the 25th percentile on national measurements and still remain out of a school with certified teachers.
Harrison Counts Schools Attendance Director, Jim Kirby, says that some students do well being homeschooled but, “We’ve gone through situations where we have gone through the court system to make sure students are coming to school and next thing you know they are wanting to homeschool their children to avoid that process.”
It is well established that more education results in higher lifetime income, especially in an age where labor-intensive industries like coal mining and auto manufacturing are so automated. National companies search for a well-educated workforce when choosing a new location, and young families always consider the school systems when deciding where to live.
Kirby says that since the law passed, numbers of homeschoolers statewide have doubled or tripled and affect the services counties can provide to remaining students.
Legislators should take another look at the effects of this law and tighten up the requirements to ensure that West Virginia’s kids are getting the education they need to make it in today’s job market.