The Senate Education Committee reviewed the home study provisions of H.461 on Tuesday. Chairman Campion asked Retta Dunlap (Home School Advocate, Vermont Home Education Network) to share some basic background information for newer members of the Committee. She shared a presentation showing some historical trends on home study students. The data was provided by the Vermont Home Education Network because the Agency of Education (AOE) only recently started tracking some of these metrics.
She reiterated that the language in the bill was proposed by the Agency of Education, but that she largely supported it because it removed “meaningless paperwork” for both parents and AOE. One area in particular is the course of study documents that the Agency is currently required to collect. She found, while educating her four children, that having a flexible course of study allowed her to foster a love of learning in her kids. As she put it, “if the children didn’t want to study China and instead wanted to learn about England and trebuchets, I went with them.”
Dunlap suggested a number of technical changes to the bill, largely wording- or calendar-related. She pointed out that some homeschoolers are educated year round, and others have breaks at different times of year. AOE has already signaled some support for some of her recommendations.
She strongly encouraged the committee to make the law effective upon the Governor’s signature instead of waiting until July 1st (as is currently in the bill). This would allow the change in enrollment forms and reporting requirements to go into effect during the current school year instead of delaying by one year. She noted that she recalled Campion being in the House the last time this issue came up in 2006.
Campion complimented her work and thanked her for always “being a great witness and a great partner in this work.” There were no questions from the Committee and he closed by asking her to keep an eye on them and that AOE would be brought in shortly to work out the final wording.