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11/21/2006 9:46:12 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Unlawful Level of Detail Demanded in Curriculum Description

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Virginia--Unlawful Level of Detail Demanded in Curriculum Description

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Many families were surprised to receive an October 17 letter from a
Greene County Public Schools school social worker indicating that she
would expect homeschool families to submit a much more detailed
curriculum description for the 2007-2008 school year.

The social worker's letter was prompted by an email she had received
from the state Department of Education. The Department's email gave
the following as part of an example of an appropriate "curriculum
description:"

"U.S. History: 1877 to the Present
> This course will provide the student with an understanding of the
history of the United States from the end of Reconstruction to the
present.
> The student will learn about major political, economic, and social
events impacting the country during this time period and examine the
political, economic and social challenges its citizens faced.
> The student will review and understand events and life in this
country.
> The student will review and understand maps of this country.
> The student will use maps, pictures, and tables to learn about this
country's physical features.
> The student will learn about this country's natural resources,
transportation and industrial development.
> The student will review and understand how life changed after the
Civil War.
> The student will review and understand how the United States became
involved in military conflicts with other countries during this period
and the challenges the country faced during and after these wars.
> The student will review and understand other issues that impacted
this country during this time period."

Homeschoolers would be alarmed to hear that this level of detail might
be required.

Underlying this situation appears to be confusion between two
different concepts: a course description, and a curriculum
description. A course description describes the contents of a
particular course--like the example above. A curriculum description,
on the other hands, simply lists the courses required to complete an
educational program (e.g., the 8th grade). The American Heritage
Dictionary defines "curriculum" as: "All the courses of study offered
by an educational institution."

There is no need for a superintendent to have a description of each
course within the curriculum. State law does not require that
homeschool families teach any specific course content (except for
families under Option 4a). Even if the superintendent determined that
the content of a course was below his expectations, he would have no
lawful authority to do anything about it. Requiring a course
description, therefore, would be a classic example of the waste of
administrators' and parents' time and effort that we call "red tape".

HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff, along with representatives from Home
Educator's Association of Virginia, and the Organization of Virginia
Homeschoolers met with representatives of the Department of Education
in Richmond on Wednesday, November 8 to discuss this and other issues.
Our thanks go to Celeste Land of the Organization of Virginia
Homeschoolers for providing us with a copy of the Greene County school
social worker's letter.

HSLDA will continue to advise families to provide a curriculum
description--not a course description--and will let you know if the
Department issues a revised statement.


Sincerely,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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