Original photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash
One of NGCHE’s primary goals is to foster positive relationships between homeschoolers and our local communities. We encourage homeschool families to reach out and engage with others in meaningful ways. Sharing information is often a wonderful first step in developing long-term relationships not only with individuals but community organizations as well.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a website featuring a series of articles on homeschool laws. Each article was written by an author who had lived and homeschooled in the state about which she was writing. I’m not sure what made me stop and read the entry on Alabama. Maybe it was a bit of nostalgia.
I thought back almost 15 years ago to the time when I was on the internet eagerly researching homeschooling and how important accurate information was to our family. We knew maybe two homeschoolers back then, but not very well. All that we could tell you about homeschooling at that point would fit on a postage stamp, and a small one at that.
Back to the present day… The aforementioned article pertaining to homeschooling in Alabama was published in late October 2017. It was written by a mom who had left the state in 2013. Tutors and cover schools (aka church schools or “coverings”) were the only legal homeschool options she gave as those were the only available at the time she left the state. The article made no mention of our third choice.
The owner of the website meant well by publishing a series of posts featuring homeschool law in all fifty states. Though done with good intentions, that’s a grand plan. The content had not been vetted for Alabama, and the article gave out incomplete information.
In 2014 the State of Alabama declared that a private school could be established by any legal entity, not just a church. This included parents. Families who wished to homeschool their children could declare their home to be a private school, register with the Board of Education, and begin teaching their children without enrolling in a cover or hiring a tutor. The BOE has since stopped accepting private school registrations from homeschool families. At this time, it appears to be unnecessary to register with the state BOE to homeschool using the “private school” option.
Long-time residents of Alabama have come to associate homeschoolers with coverings. Despite the fact that the law changed over three years ago, many people in the general public still don’t know that coverings have become an option. This includes a significant number of the local professionals with whom I’ve made field trip reservations or group enrollments.
At first I was a tiny bit surprised that word of the change hadn’t spread much outside the homeschool community. But I quickly came to see this lack of knowledge as opportunity to open dialogue about homeschooling. NGCHE volunteers have been delighted to advise directors, education curators, and even a state coordinator on how to adjust sign-ups and enrollment procedures so that those without coverings are not excluded or inconvenienced.
What are the morals of this story?
For those considering homeschooling: Don’t take for granted that every bit of information you find on homeschooling law is current. Always check trusted, reliable sources. HSLDA is our go-to for issues pertaining to the law.
For veteran homeschoolers: Take each opportunity you are given to pass on accurate information to those interested in learning about homeschooling. Reach out to others. Be relational. Be gracious. A knowledgeable, well-behaved family who receives people with kindness and consideration makes the very best ambassadors.
© 2017 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators