When I first wrote about Rep. Dan Johnston’s (R – District 24) House Bill 1052 back in December, I wasn’t speaking hyperbole when I said that I believed it has the potential to be the most impactful piece of legislation we’ve seen for homeschool families in North Dakota. I even wrote that it may just be one of the great pieces of education legislation— period. I truly believe this is the case.
In fact, I believe what I wrote then so much that I honestly question how many of the legislators who voted for the bill actually realize the implications of what they passed? By the way, this includes all of those who voted— miraculously, not a single legislator voted against this bill. And last week Governor Doug Burgum signed it into law and filed it with the Secretary of State’s Office. Its path was most certainly one of perfection.
In case you’re not familiar with it, HB 1052 addresses a 2007 Attorney General’s opinion that interpreted North Dakota’s homeschool law as restricting those who can supervise home education to parents only. By signing HB 1052 into law, the definition of “parent” is now expanded to include “a child’s legal guardian”. The definition of “supervise” will now include “the selection of materials, determination of an educational philosophy, and oversight of the method, manner, and delivery of instruction.” As one of my favorite lawmakers would say, “This is a big deal.”
In a very real sense, I view this bill as a form of school choice for homeschoolers. The words found in the bill are key; “selection”, “determination”, “oversight”, “method”, “manner”, and “delivery”.
Who gets to select from the myriad of curriculum available for home educated students? Their parents or legal guardians.
Who determines the philosophy under which these students will be educated? Their parents or legal guardians.
When it comes to the variety found in “method, manner, and delivery of instruction”, who oversees that? The parents or legal guardians.
The opportunities under this bill are many. Need a tutor for that child struggling with a subject or concept? Get one. You really like an on-line option that works best for your schedule and your child’s needs? Sign them up. To borrow from the catchword in education today, you want to try an “innovative” way of educating your children? Just do it. Feel like joining that Classical Conversations Community? No worries at all.
In essence, Governor Burgum’s signing this bill into law made homeschooling in North Dakota the ultimate opt-out of public education. Is there still room for improvement to the state’s homeschool laws? Sure. But overall those who home educate will now have the flexibility to do things that public school families simply don’t have.
Make no mistake about it. Governor Burgum’s signing of HB 1052 was historic. It’s truly an incentive for more families across North Dakota to join the growing movement of educating your own children.