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Clamp Down in the Mountaineer State?

West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Calls for More Oversight for Homeschoolers

Contact: Jeremiah Lorrig, Home School Legal Defense Association, 540-338-5600

PURCELLVILLE, Va., May 19, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Incoming West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple criticized homeschoolers in her first address to the West Virginia Joint Standing Committee on Education. According to a West Virginia homeschooler who posted on an internet group, Speaker Pro Tem Ron Fragale told her that Mrs. Marple said, "West Virginia homeschoolers need more oversight, better standards, better evidence of progress; homeschoolers have too much flexibility."

Delegate Fragale told the homeschooler that "he's not sure why Mrs. Marple is so negative about homeschooling. Perhaps there are some new board members who don't have a good impression of it. However, the West Virginia Department of Education could create a new policy that might make homeschooling more difficult in the state."

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Staff Attorney Michael P. Donnelly noted that West Virginia homeschoolers do an outstanding job of educating children and that West Virginia has one of the nation's more stringent homeschooling laws. "Mrs. Marple's comments reflect outdated stereotypes typical of some narrow-minded government school bureaucrats," Donnelly stated. "If Mrs. Marple is interested in educational achievement for West Virginia 300,000 public school students, perhaps she should study why homeschooling works so well and encourage it, not criticize it."

West Virginia already requires an annual notification and annual assessment from every homeschool family. Only a minority of the United States require this much interaction between homeschoolers and government officials.

HSLDA called on Mrs. Marple to retract her comments. However, in a conversation with HSLDA, Liza Cordeiro, a spokesperson for the Department did not retract the Superintendent's comments. Instead, she clarified that the Department "in no way want[s] to regulate those who are doing the right thing," seeking rather to crack down on "illegitimate homeschoolers." Donnelly responded by saying "New regulations would affect all homeschoolers and are not needed. The overwhelming majority of homeschoolers are doing an excellent job and the current law is sufficient to address any exceptions." HSLDA is determined to continue to defend homeschooling freedom in WV.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA) is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.