"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homestead Consideration: Homeschool Laws

Screen capture fromthe Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website 2/28/12

In considering where to locate a homestead, I think a locations lack of intrusive regulations aimed at homeschooling is a key consideration. Even if you don't homeschool but use a good private school, will you always? Will your children? What if the school closes? What if you don't live close enough? If a government starts down the road of worrying about homeschoolers, you have a problem government, and chances are very good that they are overly intrusive in other areas as well.

I know in my state of Minnesota this is the case. Until recently, Minnesota was in red on the HSLDA homeschool freedom map. As parents without bachelors degrees, my wife and I were required to fill out forms each year informing the superintendent of our intent to homeschool, fill out quarterly report cards and submit them, and to do testing. There was even some insane language about home visits by state officials in the law. It was an egregious and unacceptable infringement on our rights as parents. Thankfully, those laws were recently improved so as to be more friendly to homeschoolers, but I am not fooled. Minnesota is a very liberal state, and I can easily see them taking one step forward and 2 steps back with homeschoolers.
So as far as Minnesota is considered for a future homestead, overall it fails. It has once gone down the path to the Dark Side of state over-reach, and I think it cannot be trusted. To be considered a good state for a homestead, it would need to really excel in other areas. The main thing is to have this in mind and to be deliberate. Even parents using a good Catholic school should have this one high on their list.

As far as the above map goes, I would consider the red states to be totally off limits, and most of the orange to be off limits to thoughtful homesteaders. But states do change for better or worse. Wisconsin, where I homeschooled myself through high school, was a green state a few years ago and sadly now it is yellow. And would it shock us if they went orange or red in 15 years? On the other hand I have always heard great things about Texas and Alaska, and I would be surprised if they changed from green to orange. Both states have a reputation and a tradition of having an "independent spirit". This is a key point. For some reason Big Brother still has a nostalgic forgiveness for places and groups that have roots. Texas, Alaska, and the Amish are good examples. They often get a "pass" for saying and doing things just because. The Amish in Pennsylvania (a Nazi-like Red state for homeschoolers) have almost zero regulations on their schools. If I were to move to Pennsylvania, you can bet I would get no such treatment for my homeschool. People just give the Amish a pass for whatever reason. I think getting into some of those situations or areas where that type of preferred treatment is a possibility is a very good idea. We need to seriously consider the possibility of a future in which there are national laws restricting homeschooling and how we can position ourselves like the Amish have so as to be "exempt" from the whims of Big Brother. And for that reason, a place like Texas gets extra points.

Click on the link below the map an explore particular states. It is very revealing.

UPDATE: Oklahoma seems to be pretty good. From the HSLDA website:
"Oklahoma is the only state with a constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to home school.

Section 4, Art. 13 of the Constitution of Oklahoma guarantees the home school exemption by stating that
the legislature “shall” provide for the “compulsory attendance at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided of all children in the State who are sound in mind and body, between the ages of eight and sixteen, for at least three months each year.”


  1. Hi David,

    The situation in Texas is *excellent*. The state Supreme Court ruled years ago that home schools are private schools and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the state educrats. The HSLDA website could probably tell you more.

    Just fyi.

    I sympathize with your interests on this subject, because homeschooling laws were the major reason we left Minnesota (we moved back to Texas).


  2. Wow, the major reason you moved. I really respect you for sticking to your guns! Imagine me and my wife though, neither of us has a degree. So in MN, it is even worse for us than it was for you. They treat us as if we are just renting our children from the state.

    As I said before, we get by, and in the end it is something we deal with. But I do not want to put down roots in a place like this. Things could easily get worse for my children/grandchildren.

    Texas sounds great. Especially compared to the MN winter right now!