January 30, 2002

Re: Reply to "Home Schoolers Should Receive Equal Treatment" Editorial
Letter to the Editor
The News Leader
P.O. Box 59
Staunton, VA 24402
January 24, 2002

Re: Reply to "Home Schoolers Should Receive Equal Treatment" Editorial

Dear Editor:

In your editorial published in your January 23 edition, you suggest that home school families should welcome the chance to be forced to take the Virginia SOL test, implying that this would be more "equal," and therefore better.

Before responding to your opinion, let me set the record straight on what H.B. 663 would and would not do.

Contrary to what your editorial states, the bill would not literally require that " . . . home school families adhere to the same standards of learning that public schools in Virginia have to follow." Instead, it would prohibit all Virginia public colleges from awarding any undergraduate degree unless the student first passes the Virginia Standards of Learning test. Even out of state students would be required to pass the SOL test. The only exception would be for a student who has a diploma from Virginia public high school. Private school students and home school students would be forced to pass the SOL test before getting a degree from a public college.

Home schoolers, as a rule, are not taught the SOLs. They are instructed instead in a wide variety of highly individualized programs adapted to each student's interest and aptitude. Such programs may be of the highest caliber, but there is no guarantee they cover the finicky demands of the SOLs, so there is no guarantee the student could pass the SOL test.

H.B. 663 would, therefore, force parents to ask, "Do I give my child the individualized high school program that is truly best for him, and just hope he won't flunk the SOL and forfeit his state college degree, or do I give him a "standardized" program to protect his chance for a degree?" This is senseless. Why should parents be forced to choose one or the other? Does this produce any sort of desirable equality?

Few parents would give their child a high quality individualized high school program if they knew it meant the child could probably not get a state college degree in Virginia. H.B. 663 would mean death to thousands of individualized high school programs both in home schools and private schools. This would be a huge step backward.

The law that required public high school students to pass the SOLs to get a diploma gave an enormous amount of power to the small group of people who determine what is in the SOLs. Apparently this has only increased their appetite for power. Now it seems they want to control who gets a college degree, as well. As we know from watching "The Fellowship of the Ring," the lust for power is not pretty.

Our public colleges are capable of determining who should be awarded a degree without "help" from those who hold the SOL power "ring."

Sincerely yours,

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.

 Other Resources

Staunton News Leader editorial

Virginia Paper Backs SOL for State College Diploma