Advocacy is for everyone. Any concerned parent can become an advocate for homeschooling freedoms. And so can you. This article is the first in a series of steps you can take to become an effective advocate for homeschooling in your community.
Step 1: Know the Law
It may not sound quite as exciting or glamorous as marching in the streets, calling your congressman, or making speeches. But the single most important and most empowering thing any homeschooling parent can do is to become familiar with Virginia’s homeschooling laws.
Why? Because the law belongs to all of us and affects all of us, regardless of who we are, where we come from, or how we raise our children. The law is the one thing that all homeschoolers in Virginia have in common, so it is especially important that we understand that law and understand how it affects not just our family, but the other families in our community and state.
Knowing the law empowers you to make informed decisions about homeschooling. When action needs to be taken, you’ll know your rights and responsibilities. When you know what the law requires and does not require, you can talk confidently with parents, school officials, lawmakers, and policymakers. You’ll also have the tools to interpret confusing or scary-sounding information disseminated by concerned parents or family members, homeschooling organizations, school districts, or the media.
Virginia’s homeschooling law is not rocket science. It is reasonably short, straightforward, and understandable to the layperson with no legal training or background. Best of all, it’s free, and available to anyone with access to either a public library or the Internet.
The ultimate authority on Virginia law is the Code of Virginia. You can find the Code online at Virginia General Assembly – Code of Virginia searching by keywords or sections of Code to find what you need. Or you can read the Code in hard copy at your local library.
For your convenience, we have assembled links to the relevant sections of Code on Virginia Law Related to Home Education.
VaHomeschoolers encourages every homeschooling family to be familiar with the full text of the law, rather than rely on any one party’s interpretation of the law. Many homeschooling and governmental organizations include sections of Virginia homeschooling law in their informational materials or websites. While these materials can be helpful, they may be out of date, incomplete, or include confusing mixes of legal language and interpretation of that language. Again, when in doubt, the ultimate authority is always the Code of Virginia.
Your Mission: Take a few minutes to read through Virginia homeschooling law for yourself. Take your time – you don’t have to read or digest it all at once. See how the law applies to your family. Think about how the law might apply to a family you know whose needs or circumstances differ from your own.
Next Step: Know the Players in Your Community
Article by Celeste Land. Originally published in the November-December 2005 VaHomeschoolers Newsletter. For more information on Virginia homeschooling legal and political issues, please contact VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs.