|This page was last updated on March 11, 2015.
A number of issues which affect home education are regularly discussed in New York State government. In
the discussion below, we provide links to the New York State
Assembly Legislative Information System which you can use to check on the current status and wording of
various legislative bills. You can also use the
New York State Legislative Session Information System
to get the same information, as well as legislative calendar information such as committee agendas.
NYHEN runs a discussion list, NY-alert@YahooGroups.com,
where we talk about issues involving state government. You are welcome to join the list from the page at the
previous link, or by sending a blank message to
Compulsory school attendance age
Currently, children in New York State are required to attend instruction, be it in a school or at home,
from age 6 until age 16. This is the age range within which home educators must submit paperwork and
assessments to their school districts. Also, state law allows school districts to raise the upper age
limit from 16 to 17 for the students in their district. Only the New York City, Buffalo, and Brockport
districts are known to have raised their age to 17.
Assembly bill A3600 would relax the lower end of compulsory attendance age. Currently,
the cutoff for the start of compulsory age is December 1; children who turn 6 on or before December 1 are of compulsory age
as of the start of school in the previous September. In other words, the youngest children of compulsory age are a few
months short of turning 6. This bill would move the cutoff back to September 1, meaning that no children under 6 would be of
Assembly bill A4822 and Senate bill
would require people under 18 to "maintain good school attendance" in order to be eligible for a driver's license or
learner's permit. The Senate bill also requires "satisfactory school grades". The bills state that such people must either
have a high school diploma (or equivalent), or be enrolled in an educational program leading to such a diploma and have a
certificate of good attendance (and good grades, in the case of the Senate bill). This appears to imply that homeschoolers
under 18 would not be legally eligible for a driver's license or learner's permit. Perhaps a parent-issued "certificate of
good attendance" would be considered acceptable, but homeschooling in New York State does not lead to a high school diploma,
as required by these bills. They represent a potential threat to homeschoolers' freedom.
Compulsory attendance: It's not just for kids anymore
Some legislators are attempting to force not only children, but also their parents, to go to school. Senate Bill
S182 would require all parents to attend four parenting
classes before their child reaches 7th grade. If the parents did not complete the classes, the bill would penalize the child
by prohibiting advancement to 7th grade. The bill's wording covers all families in New York, with no exceptions for children
who are not in public or private schools.
Tax exemptions for educational expenses
Senate bill S1976 would create an income tax credit of up to $200 for parents who pay for
"approved" instructional materials for "home-based educational programs".
Some home educators support this kind of legislation because it makes home education more financially viable. Other home
educators oppose this kind of legislation, saying that it could lead to increased regulation of home education because the
government would view us as recipients of a tax break and would thus want to exercise tighter control over us in the name of
College admission and access to college degrees
New York State regulations prohibit colleges within the state from granting a degree to a student unless that student has a
state-recognized high school diploma or has met a substitute requirement. The approved substitutes include obtaining a New
York State High School Equivalency Diploma (either via the TASC exam or via a 24-credit-hour college program) or obtaining a
letter from the student's school district superintendent stating that the student has received the substantial equivalent of
a high school education. Because New York homeschoolers do not receive state-recognized high school diplomas, they must meet
one of the substitute requirements.
Assembly and Senate bill A43/S841
would prohibit the State Education Department from requiring homeschoolers to have a recognized diploma in most cases.
However, it contains dangerous provisions. For example, it would require homeschoolers seeking college admission to
submit a notarized transcript "which demonstrates completion of a high school education", meaning that homeschoolers could not
skip ahead to college before finishing a high school program.
Participation in sports and other extracurricular activities
Currently, New York State does not allow homeschoolers to play on public school interscholastic sports teams. As for other
extracurricular activities such as intramural sports and musical groups, the state allows local school boards to decide whether
to allow homeschoolers to participate. Some districts allow such participation, and others don't. There are several bills
intended to make extracurricular activities more available to home educated children.
Assembly bill A3678 would require districts to allow homeschoolers to participate in
Senate bill S2175 would do the same as A3678, but it would also require homeschoolers
to satisfy special requirements each year: They would have to satisfy either the homeschooling regulation's standardized
testing requirement or, if the district agreed, a set of alternative requirements adopted by the district, including a
portfolio of work.
Assembly bill A4062 would require districts to allow homeschoolers to participate in
interscholastic sports and in driver's education classes.
Assembly bill A1500 would require districts to allow homeschoolers to participate in
all extracurricular activities.
New York home educators are divided on this issue. Supporters of these kinds of bills say that they would increase opportunities
for homeschoolers. Opponents say that this approach could easily lead to increased regulation of homeschoolers, because it would
explicitly identify us as eligible recipients of government school services. The opponents believe that the government would
want to exercise tighter control over us as recipients of government services, in the name of accountability. This tendency
is seen in S2175's requirements, which would add to the current requirements in the homeschooling regulation.