Homeschoolers in West Virginia are seeing success at the legislative level as lawmakers push through measures to eliminate discrimination against those who are educated at home.
Governor Jim Justice recently signed a bill granting homeschool families easier access to state scholarship funding. Senate Bill 319 makes individuals who complete a secondary education program – whether public, private, home school, or GED – eligible for the PROMISE Scholarship. The scholarship amounts to as much as $4,750 annually to cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees at public or independent institutions in West Virginia.
Mike Donnelly of the Home School Legal Defense Association explains that this essentially means homeschooled students will no longer face discrimination in obtaining a PROMISE Scholarship for their college education.
"At the end of the day, all we were asking for was for homeschooled students to be treated the same as everybody else – and this law does that," he says. "We're very glad that Governor Justice signed this legislation."
According to Donnelly, it often can take years of advocacy to get even one piece of homeschool legislation passed – but that's beginning to change, he says, in a state that had been "quite hostile" from a legal perspective.
"Families [in West Virginia] had to do a lot in order to comply with the law," he tells OneNewsNow. "We started changing that about three years ago with a new law that is much easier for families to comply with, and now passing several other laws that recognize that homeschooling is just as good as any other form of education."
Also signed was Senate Bill 364, giving homeschooling parents the authority to issue a statement allowing their children to obtain driver learning permits in lieu of obtaining one from a public school official.