Law Allows Thousands of Children in Virginia to Not Attend School

September 11, 2012

Theresa Arias homeschools her nine year old daughter. A military family that's lived in several states, Arias says Virginia is the most accommodating when it comes to homeschooling.
"Some states are really restrictive with it," said Arias. "This state is more open to it and I really appreciate that."

But a new study released by the University of Virginia's Child Advocacy Clinic questions whether the commonwealth is too accommodating when it comes to homeschooling. Research shows over seven thousand children in Virginia opt out of school altogether, based on the state's religious exception laws. Without any sort of state regulation, it's completely up to the parents how much, or how little, their children learn.

"Parents have the ability, based on religious beliefs, to excuse their children from attending school," said Andrew Block, the director of the Child Advocacy Clinic. "If the school board approves the parent's request and accepts the legitimacy of their beliefs, then the child can be excused from school and never has to go back."

Arias is a former school teacher and her daughter is required to take the same standardized tests as all of the other students in the state. She says it's up to the parent to make sure their child doesn't slip through the cracks when it comes to education.

Critics of the law say more follow needs to be done by school divisions to ensure students are still learning.

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