Portraits of the Douglas school shooting victims
The images of young people crying in terror, filing out with their arms held high.
In the wake of Wednesday’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a lot of parents are wondering if home schooling might be a safer option for their children.
On Thursday, Twitter was filled with comments from terrified parents who were scared to send their kids back to school.
But is home schooling a viable option? What does it entail?
As defined by Florida law, home education is the “sequentially progressive instruction” of a student directed by his or her parent or guardian in order to satisfy Florida's compulsory education requirements. Florida Statute (FS) 1002.41 breaks down the responsibilities of those who decide to take on this task.
“Exercising this option may require major changes in your family schedule,” advises the Florida Department of Education website. “Teaching your children at home is an ambitious undertaking, requiring time, planning, creativity, and commitment.”
How much exactly?
We spoke to Tj Schmidt, of the Home School Legal Defense Association, which provides legal advice and information and resources to encourage and support all home-schoolers.
“I would say Florida is one of the better states for parents considering this,” said Schmidt.
And the process actually doesn’t sound so intimidating.
Good news: The parent doesn’t have to hold a teaching certificate. The key is to be familiar with Florida law regarding this issue: The statutes are very clear.
There are six main parental responsibilities, as per Schmidt:
2. Maintain a portfolio, a form of record keeping that documents your kid’s educational progress. A three-ring binder with subject dividers works. “You’ll want to show you do say, math, Monday through Friday, and history, Tuesdays and Thursdays, something like that,” Schmidt said. “It’s pretty flexible.”
3. Make your portfolio available for inspection by your respective superintendent’s office upon a 15-day written notice. “You’ll need samples of the student’s writing, his or her workbooks and worksheets, basic samples of what the child is doing,” he adds.
4. Submit an annual evaluation for each student to the superintendent. The evaluation of progress is usually filled out by a Florida certified teacher, but not necessarily. Another option is having the child take a state student assessment test at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district.
5. Maintain and preserve the child’s portfolio for two years.
6. Submit a letter of termination upon completion or cessation of your home education program.
Homeschool children may still be able to participate in sports at their local school or be eligible for Bright Futures if the meet the requirements.
In May, interested parties can attend the Florida Homeschool Convention in Orlando.