Sometimes I get this as the Email of the Day . . . it starts off different ways:
“Hi, we’re contemplating a move to WA, and I’m freaking out because we live in ZZ state, which has essentially no homeschool regulations, and WA is full of them.”
“My spousal unit is getting a job in WA, and we currently homeschool In freedom in ZZ state – and I’m looking at all of WA’s rules and regulations, and I think you’re PA or something,”
“We’re next door in ID, and loving WA’s lack of income tax, but I can’t bear the WA laws w/r/t homeschooling . . . .”
Look – I can’t tell you that WA is going to be the right fit, or that you’re going to love it here. It was for me, I and I do – I’m on the sunny side of our state with 290 days of sun, nearly no humidity, and the beautiful Selkirk mountains. But I digress.
Here’s what I can tell you:
WA has some of the first, and some of the best homeschooling laws in the nation.
1) Unlike some states with nearly no regulation, or regulations that read something like, “provide a comparable education,” WA has certain things you have to do to be in compliance with the law. You have to qualify, declare, cover the 11 subjects, test or assess annually, and keep certain records. If we are called into court and must defend our homeschooling, we have road map (see the previous sentence) by which to do it.
If you email me and ask, “Jen – I have to go to court tomorrow and demonstrate that I’m homeschooling” (it’s always tomorrow – why don’t you email me earlier? It’s less painful and stressful if you email me earlier), I’m going to tell you to pull together the following for court:
a) proof that you qualify (your college transcript, your certificate of completion from your PQC, the contact info and certification information for the teacher who you’ve hired for oversight, the note from the superintendent who deemed you qualified).
b) a copy of your Declaration of Intent (another reason you want to have sent it yourself, and not hired an electronic service)
c) demonstration that you’re covering the 11 subjects.
d) test or assessment scores from the previous year for each kidlet.
2) We aren’t beholden to the local school principal or superintendent to grovel for these things. We don’t have to have our curriculum “approved,” we don’t have to submit our test or assessment scores, we don’t have to document a portfolio and hope like heck that it will meet the arbitrary standards of the teacher assigned to our case. We DECLARE our intent to homeschool – we do not request permission to do so.
3) We have things we must do to be in compliance with the law, but there is no mechanism in the law for anyone to check on us. Homechooling in WA is much like driving in WA. There are things you must do to be in compliance – you must have a valid driver’s license and insurance – but the cops can’t just pull you over and demand to see proof of these things. You have to have run a stop sign, or otherwise violated the law for them to ask to see those. With homeschooling, this is generally one of three things: you’re in divorce court, you’re entangled with CPS, or your children are hoodlums. (The latter is rare in homeschooling circles).
In sum: our homeschooling law is a good one. Within the framework of the 11 subjects, our children are free to pursue their educations in anyway they choose. You can unschool in WA, you can Classical Homeschool in WA – they’re equally valid ways of achieving the same end – educating our children.
Let me repeat (for it bears repeating – oft) the portion of the law that I have enshrined on my Parent Qualifying Course Certificate of Completion:
RCW 28A.200.020 states that “parents who are causing their children to receive home-based instruction shall be subject only to those minimum state laws and regulations which are necessary in ensuring that a sufficient basic educational opportunity is provided to the children receiving such instruction. Therefore, all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent except for matters specifically referred to in Chapter 28A.225 RCW.
The homeschool law also states that the legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.”
We homeschool in freedom and protection in WA. Relish it.