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Home schooling

Homeschool advocates go to bat for non-traditional private schools

Provisions in a wide-ranging education bill moving through the Florida Senate provoked fears among home education advocates. But they may prove to be a short-lived glitch. Right now, as worded, the Senate's rewrite of HB 7055 would prevent parents from using private tutors, as well as certain non-traditional private schools, to satisfy school attendance requirements. However, a key lawmaker facilitating negotiations in the late stages of the legislative session said Tuesday that she intends to fix the issue. She said her goal is to eliminate out-dated provisions of state law, not to restrict homeschooling. "We are going to amend the bill to take care of...

Fla. House panel unanimously backs home education bill

A unanimous Florida House panel approved legislation that would limit requirements school districts can place on homeschoolers. Rep. Jennifer Sullivan’s bill, HB 731 would also increase homeschoolers' access to dual enrollment and career education courses. Sullivan was home-schooled growing up. She said she was inspired to file the bill because of her educational background. She said superintendents in some school districts are overstepping their authority. The bill comes in response to concerns among parents that districts add hurdles for homeschool registration. That has likely contributed to a decline in homeschooling numbers in some parts of the state, even though statistics show its popularity is growing statewide. Florida law...

In memory of Brandon Berman

Brandon sat quietly in his wheelchair but grew increasingly agitated as his lawyer, Clint Bolick, answered rapid-fire questions from an aggressive reporter. His mother, Donna Berman, stood behind him, worrying he might erupt into a fit, or worse, a seizure. Brandon’s service dog Cody even sensed the frustration and made a noise in defense of his best friend. “Can we get him out of here?,” Brandon muttered about the reporter. Another reporter noticed his agitation. "We've been trying to get rid of him for years," he quipped. Brandon, who had autism, smiled and kept his composure. Brandon was 16 at the time. He and his mom had come to Tallahassee to attend a hearing for Faase v. Scott. Florida's statewide teachers union filed the case to...

Bill would add legal protections for homeschool parents

A state lawmaker has once again has filed legislation that would rein in district inquiries to parents who register home education programs. The bill comes in response to concerns among parents that districts add hurdles for homeschool registration. That has likely contributed to a decline in home schooling in some districts, even though state statistics show its popularity is growing statewide. Florida law requires home schoolers to register with their local school districts. They have to send a signed notice of intent to the school district superintendent with the students’ names, birthdates and addresses. The bill would bar districts from requiring other...

Why is the number of homeschool students declining in Miami-Dade?

Recent data released about the number of home school students in Florida reveals a mystery. The number of home education students in the state continues to increase. State data show it reached 87,462 during the 2016-17 school year — roughly a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Miami-Dade County, however, saw a decline in enrollment by 11 percent. Homeschool parents and legal advocates say there is a reason behind Miami-Dade's declining numbers. When some parents file a notice of intent to homeschool with the district, they say, the district asks for additional documentation such as proof of residency or a birth...

Home education once again on the rise in Florida

The number of home education students in Florida keeps rising. It reached 87,462 during the 2017-16 school year, according to fresh state data. The Florida Department of Education releases a report on homeschooling each summer. In 2015, the number of children taught at home saw some of its largest growth ever. Last year, it declined. But the state's largest school district, Miami-Dade County, accounted for that decrease single-handedly. This year, home education grew by more than 4,000 students, or just shy of 5 percent. Once again, however, the number of home schoolers in Miami-Dade declined — this time by nearly 11 percent. Homeschooling declined in...

Bill would give Florida home schoolers more access to college, career courses

Home education students would have more access to college classes and career education programs under a bill approved this morning by a Florida House panel. HB 1391 would allow homeschoolers to take career education courses offered by school districts. Public schools would be able to receive state per-pupil funding for courses they take. The bill, along with a counterpart in the state Senate, would also require school districts to accept parents' home education registrations if they meet the requirements in state law. Several parents told the committee that some districts have begun asking for information — like birth certificates and proof of residence — that go...

Students lift voices to celebrate School Choice Week

This fall, after wowing millions of TV viewers, falling just short of the final round on NBC's The Voice and gaining national exposure that she hopes will launch a lifelong music career, Shalyah Fearing tried something new. She started learning in a traditional classroom at a local public high school. Now 16 and a junior, she takes three classes at River Ridge High School in New Port Richey, Fla. while managing the rest of her course load online. Her family has experienced just about every flavor of school choice — public, private, virtual, home education. So it was fitting that they lent their...