The History of Homeschooling in Ohio

My good friend, Becky, and I were talking about the history of how homeschooling was legalized in Ohio. I believe it is worth sharing because the opportunity and privilege to homeschool is something that I treasure and it makes it all the more special when you learn how it happened. My information is taken from a fantastic 142 page book that I wish every homeschool family could have as a reference. In it, Diana Fessler shares her story and explains every point of Ohio’s homeschool laws and the Home Education Notification Form. Sadly, it is out of print, but I hope someone will reprint it and update the few details that have changed since it was printed. If you ever come across the book, you should purchase it. Home Education : Answers for Ohio Parents by Diana Fessler.

It all began as a seed of an idea in 1982 when Diana Fessler and her husband, Bob, were considering pre-registering their son for kindergarten while at the same time being introduced to the idea of schooling their own children. They decided to homeschool their four children for several years without notifying the superintendent. When they did choose to do so, they sent their philosophy of education, a daily schedule, curriculum overview, and test results. The test results for all of the children were in the 90-99th percentile range. Mrs. Fessler presumed that the superintendent would excuse her children from compulsory attendance. However, contrary to this belief they received “twenty-one pages of documents”.

The superintendent requested copies of her and her husband’s transcripts and teaching certificates. They only submitted Mr. Fessler’s transcript (they didn’t have teaching certificates) to the superintendent as well as seventy-five pages of information that included things such as their background, assessment plans, and resource materials. They submitted an additional one hundred thirty pages after the superintendent had said it was a “good start” and they needed to supply details of all the courses in every subject they were teaching for each of their four children. The Fessler’s agreed to send in weekly and monthly reports and permit school officials to “visit” their home. They also were asked to have a notarized statement that absolved the school of any educational and social growth of their children.

It seemed that no matter how much information they sent, there was always a request for additional information. The Fesslers drew the line when the request for psychological testing was issued. With help from Representative Monahan, their superintendent excused their children (in December) from compulsory attendance.

In 1988 the Fesslers were invited to share their testimony before the House Education Committee. A State Board of Education advisory committee began a year long process of developing home education regulations and Diane represented the home educators. In July 1989, the State Board of Education adopted these regulations without amendment, and they became codified as OAC 3301-34.

I am thankful for the Fesslers and other parents who had the conviction and fortitude to home educate their children and make it possible for us to do the same. May we be diligent in teaching our children and as Diana states the reason for writing the book was that “people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” but “the truth will set you free.”

Have a great week! ~Lisa~

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