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Home schooling

Gardiner Scholarships give students with autism a homeschool lifeline

Every day was a battle for Jared Wendlberger in school. The 7-year old, at the time, would come home in tears, after his backpack and lunch were stolen by his classmates. Jared, who has high-functioning autism, was placed in an emotional behavior disorder class in the second grade. Some of the students in the class were two years older and several of them were violent, his mother, Sandy Edwards, remembers. Jared was bullied regularly and it affected him on many levels. He was self-conscious about everything and became withdrawn. He was unable to finish his school work and was performing poorly. But the...

No homeschool family is an island: Home education offers parents support

Patricia Anthony immigrated to the United States from Colombia 12 years ago. Settling in Lake Worth, Florida, Anthony decided to homeschool her daughter after their school didn’t meet up with her expectations. “You can tailor the education for your child according to what they need,” she said of home education. Because English is not her first language, Anthony wanted to ensure her two high school daughters, Vanessa and Emily, received English instruction from a teacher specializing in the subject. Now, as it turns out, Vanessa, 17, wants to major in English. Anthony enrolled her children in Home Education Enrichment Day, (HEED), a Christian...

Less school regs, more school choice

Consumer choice and government regulation comprise the two components of educational accountability systems. In the areas of home-schooling and private schools, Florida has struck a good balance between regulations and choice, but the public district and charter schools are overregulated. To achieve a more appropriate balance, public schools need less regulation and more consumer choice. The accountability system for homeschools is instructive for private and public schools. Parents must notify their school district in writing when they intend to create a home school program. They must keep a portfolio for two years of all the instructional activities and materials used...
Home school enrollment

Home school numbers continue to rise

The number of home education students in Florida grew by 2.7 percent last year, continuing a steady upward trend over the past decade, according to the latest annual report released by the state Department of Education. In the 2017-18 school year, 89,817 students participated in home education programs, an increase of 2,355 from the previous year. Over the past decade, enrollment has increased nearly by half, from 60,913, with increases in nine of the 10 years. Brenda Dickinson, a lobbyist with the Home Education Foundation, said the home option is becoming more mainstream and accessible to parents. “There are more programs where...

A Gardiner Scholarship transformed Emily Beasley’s life

Emily Beasley was a typical 6-year-old. Precocious yet shy, she was learning to read, loved to dance and enjoyed playing with friends. Everything changed suddenly one night, as she stood in her family’s kitchen. Her parents noticed her staring with a blank expression. Her lips moved, but she wasn’t speaking. She didn’t move and lost control of her bladder. “That was the exact moment when everything changed,” said Doug Beasley, her father. Emily recuperated over summer vacation, but when school started again, there more problems. She had a “rather large” seizure at school one day, her mother said, leading to a brief hospital...

Black and homeschooled, continued

A compelling new feature in The Atlantic examines a stereotype-defying thread in the fabric of parental choice: black homeschooling. The homeschooling population in the United States is predominantly white and concentrated in suburban or rural areas. In 2016, black children accounted for 8 percent of the 1.7 million homeschooled students nationally, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. What federal education data don’t show, though, is what’s driving those 136,000 or so black students and their families into homeschooling. Nor do the data reveal the tenacity and tradition that bond this homeschooling movement—a movement that challenges many of the prevailing stereotypes about homeschooling, which...

Florida homeschoolers group: New law limits information requests

A statewide homeschooling group is informing school districts that a new law bars them from creating new roadblocks or information requests for would-be homeschoolers. Florida law requires homeschoolers to register with their local school districts. Parents must send a signed notice of intent to the district superintendent with the students’ names, birthdates and addresses. But House Bill 731, recently signed by Gov. Rick Scott, bars districts from requiring other information. In the letter to superintendents, the Florida Parent Educators Association cites the new statute, explaining that once a parent contacts the district about beginning a home education program, the district “shall accept...

Florida Legislature passes major homeschooling bill

On the last day of their annual legislative session, Florida lawmakers unanimously passed the most significant legislation to impact homeschool families in years. House bill 731 would rein in school districts' inquiries to parents who start home education programs. The legislation came in response to concerns among parents that districts were adding hurdles for homeschool registration. That likely contributed to a decline in homeschooling in some districts, even though state statistics show its popularity is growing statewide. Home education advocates proposed similar legislation multiple times, but it did not pass until this year. The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott.Florida law requires homeschoolers to...