UHEA Statement on Common Core
Common Core has the potential to nullify any substantive benefits of school choice. One of the basic goals of UHEA is "to encourage maintenance and improvement of our rights to educate our own children through support of good legislation, court decisions, and policies established by public school administrators, and to oppose any limitation to these same rights."
Because of the potential for Common Core implementation to limit the rights of parents and students, we encourage home school families to request their legislators enact legislation exempting home schoolers from data collection activities and compulsory high-stakes testing. Additionally, homeschoolers in Utah should push for Utah Colleges and Universities to use entrance exams that are not aligned to Common Core curricula.
UHEA Statement on Publicly-Funded Schooling Options
UHEA Supports Education in the Home
The Utah Home Education Association supports families who choose to educate their children in the home. We do this by helping parents understand their lawful rights and provide instruction on the use of certain exemptions granted to those who file an affidavit with their school district declaring they will educate their children in a home school. Utah Code 53A-11-102
We recognize that there are many levels at which a family might choose to educate their children in the home and we support parents in choosing the option that is best for their families. Our mission states, "The Utah Home Education Association is established primarily to support the education of children in the home as a viable alternative to the existing public and private educational systems." One of UHEA's main goals is "to encourage maintenance and improvement of our rights to educate our own children through support of good legislation, court decisions, and policies established by public school administrators, and to oppose any limitation to these same rights."
Using Publicly-Funded Options Can Limit Your Rights
Because the exemptions granted by Utah State Law are limited to those parents that have signed and filed an affi-davit that their child(ren) will attend a home school, parents who choose an educational option involving virtual charter schools or other publicly-funded options utilized in the home are not technically educating their child(ren) in a home school and are not exempt from standardized tests, home or facility inspections, credentialing, maintaining records of instruction, or attendance requirements of the public school system. Utah Code 53A-11-102(2)(d).
Utilizing publicly-funded options restricts UHEA's ability to direct you to home schooling advice, advocacy, or legislative/legal support. UHEA does not and cannot provide legal counsel, support, or advice, al¬though we can refer to those who do.
Publicly-Funded Options Are Not Homeschooling
It must be understood that these options are not "homeschooling" in the qualitative or legal sense. By enrolling in a publicly-funded online charter school you must comply with the stipulations set forth in the charter and policies, procedures, and limitations set forth more broadly by state and local school boards. Once your student is registered with a publicly-funded school you no longer have the legal protections afforded by the exemptions granted to parents who educate their children in a home school. Utah Code 53A-11-102
Defining Homeschooling Publicly-Funded Options
Homeschooling is best defined as parent or guardian-led, family-funded, relationship-based education of a child at home. At UHEA we prefer the term "home education" because it more fully distinguishes from the publicly-funded school system and allows for a wider variety of educational experiences and methods.
Charter schools are publicly-funded schools that are granted a charter through a contract with the state. Virtual online schools have no "brick and mortar" presence and are instead conducted online. These are often called virtual or online charter schools. Virtual charter schools in particular have presented a schooling option that is easily confused with home schooling. Virtual online charter schools are competing with other publicly-funded schools for thousands of tax dollars paid in per student funds.
Parents Should Choose the Best Option for Their Family
UHEA believes that parents are best at choosing how to educate their children. Our mission states, "that it is the right of all parents to choose, according to individual need and desire, the most beneficial form of education for their children."
Current Legislation That Affects Home Educators
Utah Code Title 53A Chapter 11 Section 102
Senate Bill 39 created some positive changes for home school families. The new legislation removes curriculum and time requirements for home school students and when filing an affidavit with the child's school district, the parent assumes sole responsibility for the education of the school-age minor.
Another positive change for home school families is the removal of the requirement to file an affidavit (notice of intent to home school) with the local district every year. Once the school district has a notarized affidavit on file, this legislation provides for a yearly certificate of exemption from the district without the need to re-file, unless you move to a different district or your student discontinues home education to attend public school for a time and wants to home school again.
Lastly, the new law enables home school students to transition smoothly to public school, should they desire to attend full-time.
Section 53A-11-102.6 describes Utah law related to your child's participation in extracurricular activities in the public school system.
Section 53A-11-102.5 describes Utah law related to dual enrollement, which is allows for homeschooling your child and at the same time participating in classes in your school distrcit.
Section 53A-11-102 describes Utah law related to the need to be exempted from Utah's compulsory education laws in order to homeschool your children.
It is not uncommon for many school districts to be slow in returning certificates of exemption. If it's getting close to the start of the school year, or if you are just feeling uncomfortable, call your school district's homeschool liaison or drop by their office.
You can begin homeschooling your child anytime during the year. You just need to submit an affidavit to your school district. They must accept your affidavit and provide you a certificate of exemption, no matter what time of year it is.
To educate your child at home, you must submit a signed affidavit to your school district. Although the law doesn't dictate the time of year, this is usually done during the summer months. By submitting the affidavit, you are informing the school district that your child will attend a home school and that you assume sole responsibility for your child's education.
** Regarding Senate Bill 39, UHEA suggests that while home school families (should) already have affidavits on file with their school districts, it may be prudent to file an affidavit for the coming year (2014-2015) to be certain that there won't be any legal challenges or issues with the old affidavits that are on file since they were processed under the old law. The new law states that the districts have to issue a new certificate each year (which can be used where educator discounts are given), but that home schoolers only need to file once for each student as long as they don't move from the district in which they originally filed in. If a home school student moves to another school district, the parents will need to file a new affidavit with the new school district.