by Jessica Frierson and Spencer Mason, March 2022
You have likely seen the recent WRAL news article regarding Tuesday’s Joint Oversight Committee meeting. The article has left many homeschool advocates concerned that the meeting will lead to more regulation of homeschooling in North Carolina.
As NCHE’s president, Matthew McDill, said in the WRAL story, one of our primary roles at NCHE is to protect your right to homeschool. NCHE’s legislative committee, headed by NCHE’s law and policy director, Spencer Mason, has been actively monitoring the situation. We spoke directly with several members of the joint oversight committee and consulted with other family advocacy groups. Our conclusion is that there is no cause for alarm at this time. As is often the case with news articles, many details have been left out.
Here are the facts you need to know:
The purpose of DNPE’s presence at this meeting was to give testimony demonstrating their need for increased funding.
The NC Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) requested increased funding to carry out their duties. They specified that funds would be allocated in two ways. First, improvements to the DNPE website would make it easier for homeschool administrators to access and update their online accounts. Second, three additional employees are needed for the many tasks the office carries out. An example of tasks DNPE is required to do is mailing hundreds of Driver Eligibility Certificates (DEC) each week for homeschooled students who have completed driver’s education classes. They must have a DEC in hand when they apply for their learner’s permit.
There are many new homeschools in North Carolina!
Here are some of the statistics that DNPE presented at the meeting
- Before the pandemic, the average number of Notice of Intents (NOIs) to operate a homeschool filed was ~9,000.
- During academic year 2020-2021, 19,454 NOIs were filed.
- Between July 1, 2021, and January 31, 2022, 12,314 NOIs were filed.
During the pandemic, private schools and charter schools showed a healthy growth, while the student population in public schools showed a marked decline. At the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, there were 112,614 open homeschools. DNPE estimated that there were about 1.6 students per homeschool for a total of 179,900 students. NCHE believes that a more realistic estimate is 2.0 students per homeschool for a total student population of 225.228. This represents about 13% of the total North Carolina K-12 student population. Since most homeschools with only students below the age of 7 do not officially open a school (the law does not require it and DNPE doesn’t allow it), these households aren’t counted by DNPE.
There is NO THREAT to homeschools at this time.
NCHE has spoken with NC senate and house members of the joint committee. They have assured us that there will be no new bills filed at this time to add regulation to NC homeschools. Furthermore, the house co-chairman of the joint committee is a homeschool father and the senate chairman is known to be a strong school-choice advocate.
As always, NCHE will remain watchful!
Following the conclusion of the session on Tuesday, NCHE checked the legislative record for all bills that were filed and found none to contain any items germane to homeschools. There will be little to no opportunity to add anything until the next session opens May 4. The legislative committee will continue to monitor the proceedings. You can count on us to be ever vigilant and to keep you informed as the situation unfolds.
What can you do?
- Be sure that your information is updated at least annually with DNPE and that you follow the basic requirements that homeschoolers have in our state. Encourage others, especially new homeschool families, to do the same. Being good stewards of the current laws will help show lawmakers that further regulation is unnecessary.
For example, when a homeschool no longer has students or when they move, they are required by law to notify DNPE. Unfortunately, many homeschoolers are ignorant of the law, forget to do it, or don’t care. In the August-September 2021 time frame, DNPE mailed approximately 25,000 postcards to homeschools open at least 11 years. More than 17,000 cards came back as undeliverable. By October 2021 DNPE had attempted to email and call those 17,000 homeschools. Ultimately, 21,000 homeschools were removed from the active database.
- Stay tuned to NCHE to ensure that you are always up to date on the facts. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and MeWe. Watch The Homeschool Show on Youtube or listen on your favorite podcast provider. You can also subscribe to our weekly email, which will include any legislative alerts that may come up.