Sunday, October 4, 2009

Restore 1871 NH Advantage

A lot has changed since 1990 when the home education law RSA 193-A was first enacted.
In 2007 the NH Board of Education approved an online public school, the Virtual Learning Academy, which is open to all NH students on a part-time of full-time basis. It provides free online courses for public school students, as well as any other child residing in the state.
In 2008 the legislature changed compulsory attendance requirements to include 16 to 18 year olds, providing even more independent learning options outside the traditional classroom for public school students.
Home learning in NH is no longer reserved for home educators. It is becoming mainstream. The state is learning that many students are able to benefit from learning outside a classroom.

Given the increase in learning outside the classroom, it's a good time to review the long standing traditions of home instruction in this state. When New Hampshire enacted its first compulsory attendance in 1871, the legislature realized that children "instructed in a private school, or at home" would not be required to attend public school.* Public schools were created to help children whose parents were unable to instruct their children. There were no need for to regulate parents who were responsibly instructing their children at home in 1871. There should be none today.

Let's reaffirm the duty of a parent to instruct his child. Parents are not public educators. Let's insure that parents are treated equitably with other non-public educators. This is in keeping with the historical traditions of our state. Only when home learning is funded by the state, should the state impose oversight or regulation.

* John William Perrin, 1896. "The History of Compulsory Education in New England." Dissertation at University of Chicago. 1896. pg. 66-68.