New Law — Best in Nation
On June 4, Alaska Governor Tony Knowles signed into law a bill which gives homeschoolers unprecedented freedom. Unanimously passed by both the state senate and house, the new law simply creates an exemption to the compulsory school attendance law "if a child is being educated in the child's home by a parent or legal guardian." There are no teaching qualifications for parents, no regulation at any level of government, no notice to anyone of the parents' decision to conduct the home education, no registration with the state, no reporting to anyone of any information about the home education program, no testing of the children, no required subjects, and no evaluation of the program by anyone.
In a gesture of genuine respect for responsible parents, the Last Frontier State has come the closest of any state to enacting the ultimate homeschooling law, as described by Home School Legal Defense Association president, Mike Farris. He says, "The ideal homeschooling law would have the following provisions:
"Section 1—Homeschooling is legal.
"Section 2—If a homeschooling parent will send an affidavit to the state treasurer stating that he is homeschooling his children, the state will refund all the taxes that parent has ever paid for the public school."
Alaska has now fulfilled the first half of this ideal. It is doubtful that it will ever get any better than this.
Designated as Senate Bill 134, this legislation was introduced by Senator Loren Leman at the request of the Alaska Private & Home Educators Association (APHEA). Jack Phelps, Vice-President of APHEA, testified before the House Education and Social Services Committee in support of this legislation and provided skillful and effective lobbying throughout the legislative process.
As originally drafted, Senate Bill 134 was modeled after the favorable 1996 Michigan law exempting children from public school attendance if they are being instructed at home in an organized educational program in which certain required subjects are taught. However, due to the lobbying efforts of Phelps and the favorable legislative climate for an even better law, the course requirements for Alaska homeschools were deleted by a senate amendment. Parents are free to teach any subjects they consider appropriate for their child's education in today's society.