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Panel approves bill freeing home-schoolers from state requirements

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 12:56 p.m. MDT

Members of the Senate Education Committee approved a bill Friday that would remove home-schooler families from statewide education requirements. (Jens Meyer, Associated Press) Members of the Senate Education Committee approved a bill Friday that would remove home-schooler families from statewide education requirements. (Jens Meyer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Home-schooled students would not be subject to state curriculum standards or classroom time requirements under a bill approved by a Senate committee Friday.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, said his proposal seeks to do away with existing requirements that the state makes little attempt to enforce.

"We do have, from my perspective and many others, unnecessarily and truly unenforceable requirements that are currently being place on our home school students in the state," he said.

In addition to removing the class time and curriculum requirements, SB39 would allow parents to file a single affidavit stating their intent to have their children home-schooled, rather than the current requirement to file every year.

The bill also gives parents the ability to return their children to the public education system at the grade level they deem appropriate, regardless of age. After a 30-day period, a school faculty can challenge that placement.

"They should have and do have the primary responsibility for those educational decisions," Osmond said of Utah's parents.

Kathleen Riebe, a teacher in the Granite School District, said she applauds parents who take on the challenge of educating their children. But she added that she has seen cases where parents who do not have the best intentions pull their children from school.

She said the bill would create a loophole for those parents, who have little intention or ability to teach their children at home.

"They do not have any requirements," she said. "They have no accountability for their child."

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, said it is "bunk" to expect parents to be accountable to a public school bureaucracy. He said parents hire and pay teachers for the job of teaching children and can choose to end that employment.

"Teachers are public servants," Madsen said. "They are the servants of the parents."

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