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Colorado's Homeschool Law

Turns Twenty:

The Battle Should Never Be Forgotten

by Marya DeGrow, Research Associate,

13952 Denver West Parkway • Suite 400 • Golden, Colorado 80401-3141
Education Policy Center, Independence Institute • 303-279-6536 • 303-279-4176 fax IP-12-2008 • December 2008
Executive Summary homeschooling. CDE agrees not to increase
Beginning in the late 1970s, as parents be- regulations, and Representative Bird agrees
came dissatisfied with the public education not to introduce the bill.
system, the modern homeschooling move- 1987: Senator Joe Winkler and Representative
ment grew rapidly. The 1983 report, A Nation Bill Owens sponsor homeschool legislation,
at Risk, confirmed some parents’ belief that Senate Bill 138. The bill dies in the House
their children were receiving a mediocre Education Committee.
education in public schools. Research by 1987: The State Board of Education passes
John Holt and Dr. Raymond Moore encour- Emergency Rules, which give homeschoolers
aged many parents’ confidence in their abil- freedom to notify the local school district of
ity to homeschool. Conflict between some their intent to homeschool and to choose
Colorado public school districts and parents their own curricula.
led to the adoption of a 1988 legislative bill 1987: Widefield School District v. Bohl clarifies
that established guidelines for home educa- that students who are “enrolled” in a private
tion. A timeline of important events follows: school but educated at home are exempt
from compulsory school attendance law, and
1973: Compulsory school attendance law is are under private school law, not
amended to require students educated at homeschool law.
home to be “…under an established system 1988: The number of children registered as
of home study approved by the state board using state-approved curricula: 630
[of education].” 1988: Senator Al Meiklejohn, Senator
1980: The State Board of Education creates Winkler, and Representative Dick Bond
rules for home education programs: sponsor homeschool legislation, Senate Bill
• Parents may purchase state-approved 56. Governor Roy Romer allows the bill to
curricula become law without his signature. High-
• Parents without teaching certificates may lights of the bill include (see Appendix 1 for
choose their own curricula if their school dis- the current law):
trict of residence gives its approval • Parents are exempt from teaching certifi-
• Parents holding valid teaching certificates cate requirements
may homeschool their children with curric- • Parents must notify local school district
ula of their choice of intent to homeschool 14 days prior to es-
1981: The number of children registered as tablishing the program
using state-approved curricula: 51 • Students must be tested in grades three,
1981: Two Western Slope families face tru- five, seven, nine, and eleven
ancy charges in court for home-educating • Parents must maintain records of atten-
with unapproved curricula (more than 20 dance, test results, and immunization
other families follow suit in the next 7 years). • Children scoring at or below the 13th per-
1983: Legislature amends statutory language centile on a standardized test must be placed
from “attends” to “enrolled” to exempt stu- in a private or public school
dents “enrolled” in a private school from
compulsory school attendance law. In the fall of 2008 there were 7,023 registered
1985: The Colorado Home Schoolers Advi- homeschool students. After 20 years, some
sory Committee begins to meet. organizations still desire to limit homeschool
1986: CDE considers stricter regulations of freedoms. The law needs consistent defense
homeschooling. Representative Mike Bird against those who would restrict parental
drafts a bill to limit state control over rights.

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Introduction children at home. This led to Holt’s work in
The modern homeschooling movement grew support of homeschooling. He started the
rapidly beginning in the late 1970s as parents first homeschooling magazine, Growing With-
became increasingly dissatisfied with the out Schooling, in August 1977.3
public education system. In 1981, U.S. Secre-
tary of Education T.H. Bell created a commis- In a 1980 interview, Holt stated, “Learning is
sion to study and report on the quality of not the result of teaching, but of the curiosity
public education. In 1983, A Nation at Risk: and activity of the learner. A teacher’s inter-
The Imperative for Educational Reform was pub- vention in this process should be mostly to
lished. In a public declaration of a failed sys- provide the learner with access to the various
tem the report stated: “If an unfriendly for- kinds of places, people, experiences, tools,
eign power had attempted to impose on and books that will correspond with that stu-
America the mediocre educational dent’s interest.” Holt did not push a particu-
...the modern performance that exists today, we lar method of learning on his readers. “I’m in
homeschool- might well have viewed it as an act favor of having people teach their children at
ing move- of war.”1 home and don’t insist that they have my rea-
ment did not sons for doing it or even follow my methods.
blossom un- Homeschooling was common in As a result, the readers of Growing Without
til the late America before state-sponsored Schooling…include a variety of people . . .
1970s when schooling became the dominant ranging from leftist counterculturists to
parents dis- means of educating children in the right-wing fundamentalists.”4
satisfied mid-19th to early 20th century.2 A
with the relatively small number of people Dr. Raymond Moore is sometimes credited
public educa- continued to homeschool through- as the “Grandfather of the homeschooling
tion system out the 20th century, but the modern movement” due to his research in the late
were given homeschooling movement did not 1960s and early 1970s that argued against
hope and blossom until the late 1970s when formal schooling for young children. His first
courage by parents dissatisfied with the public book, Better Late than Early, published in
the ideas of 1975, presented a body of research that
education system were given hope
two men in showed “the normal child’s brain is not
and courage by the ideas of two
particular. ready for sustained learning programs—until
men in particular.
he is 8 to 10 years of age.”5 In the book, Dr.
Much of the initial momentum of modern Moore argued that whenever possible, a
homeschooling came from the secular, child should be allowed to mature at his own
counter-cultural, leftist ideas of John Holt, rate under the warm, loving care of his par-
who coined the term, “unschooling.” John ents rather than in a day care or preschool
Holt taught in private schools for many years environment. He wrote, “…normally, the
before writing his first book in 1964, How mother is still the child’s central attachment
Children Fail. Holt wrote nine other books, figure, on whom he relies while he builds
including Instead of Education: Ways to Help self-confidence, and from whom he gradu-
People Do Things Better, which called for an ally extends his attachments without being
“underground railroad” to help children es- thrust into a sink-or-swim situation.”6 Dr.
cape from compulsory schooling. After In- Moore developed the “Moore Formula,”
stead of Education was published, several peo- which calls for study, manual work, and
ple wrote Holt to tell him they educated their home and community service.7 Dr. Moore’s

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ideas primarily influenced the Christian 7,023 registered homeschoolers in Colorado
home education movement, which grew rap- as of the fall of 2008.11 All of these figures un-
idly during the 1980s. derreport the true number of homeschoolers
in Colorado, as every year an unknown num-
During the early 1980s, parents began to or- ber of families choose not to notify their
ganize and argue against activities and cur- school district that they are homeschooling.
ricula they believed were inappropriate for
their children. However, parents found little Estimates also vary regarding the number of
success trying to change the system from the homeschoolers nationwide. The nonprofit
inside. Holt and Moore encouraged parents National Home Education Research Institute
to believe in their ability to educate their chil- estimates there were between 2 and 2.5 mil-
dren at home, which hundreds of parents in lion home educated students in the U.S in the
Colorado and across the nation did, often 2007-2008 school year.12 A compre-
In 1981, edu-
enduring criticism from community and fam- hensive study by the U. S. Depart- cation offi-
ily members. ment of Education’s research branch, cials re-
the National Center for Education ported that
Parents then, as now, educated their children Statistics, estimates the number of 51 children
at home for a wide variety of reasons, includ- homeschoolers during the spring of were using
ing lack of quality academic programs, 2007 at 1.5 million.13 approved
school safety, increasingly negative behavior home study
in their children, conflict between ideologi- Today, there are many ways to edu- courses in
cally-driven curriculum and the religious or cate a child at home, not all of which Colorado…
moral values of the families, and some par- are “homeschooling.” Some children The Colo-
ents’ dislike of regimentation and authori- learn at home via public online rado Depart-
tarianism of many schools.8 schools, but the pupils are public ment of Edu-
school students subject to public cation re-
The education establishment believed that school law. Other families enroll in ports 7,023
home-educated students could not possibly private schools that allow parents to registered
receive a quality education (homeschool ad- teach their children at home. Some homeschool-
vocates believed the loss of per pupil funding private schools offer full curricula, ers in Colo-
was also a factor in the opposition of some while others—sometimes known as rado as of
school district officials). In Colorado, some “umbrella schools”—keep records the fall of
school districts sent parents truancy notices, and offer a high school diploma, but 2008.
which were sometimes followed by the intru- parents choose curricula from a variety of
sion of government social services enforcers. other sources. Students enrolled in any type
More than 20 families (the total number is of private school are under private school
unknown) went to court to fight for their law. Correspondence courses have been used
right to homeschool, with varying success. by those who were not able to study in a tra-
ditional school (e.g., child actors or children
In 1981, education officials reported that 51 whose parents must travel for a living) since
children were using approved home study before homeschooling was popular. Depend-
courses in Colorado.9 In 1988, before the ing on the organization that provides the cor-
homeschool law was passed, 630 students respondence courses, families may or may
were registered as homeschoolers.10 The not be under private school law.
Colorado Department of Education reports

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The families identified here as “Independent from the nearest public school. Not able to
Homeschoolers” are those who educate their afford the time and expense of transportation
children at home independent of public or to school, the Cox and Funk families decided
private school authority. These homeschool- to school their children at home using Chris-
ers use curricula of their own choosing and tian Liberty Academy’s correspondence
are under the authority of Colorado courses. The families were taken to court by
homeschool law. the same school district that had stopped bus
service. In April 1981, District Judge Robert
To recognize the 20th anniversary of the Brown ruled that the Cox children had to go
homeschool law, this Issue Paper highlights back to public school unless they began to
important events in the history of the law. use a home study program approved by the
For the sake of brevity, the mention of many State Board of Education.17 In December 1981
influential individuals and families has been Judge Brown gave similar orders to the Funk
kept short. family.18

Vague Law Leads to Truancy Charges The Cox and Funk court cases emboldened
against Homeschoolers school districts across Colorado to pursue
Homeschooling has never been illegal in truancy charges against families who edu-
Colorado. The Colorado Constitution seemed cated their children at home. The Western
to allow homeschooling because of its provi- Slope was a particularly difficult area in
sion that the General Assembly require pub- which to homeschool. For example, a truancy
lic school attendance “…unless officer once arrived at a family’s house at
The Cox and educated by other means.”14 The 9:00 P.M. and said the children were truants.
Funk court compulsory attendance law created The officer implied the children would be
cases em- by the Colorado General Assembly taken away by social services. Other Western
stated that compulsory attendance Slope families held practice drills where the
school dis-
was not required of a child “who is children would go to hiding places in case
tricts across
being instructed at home…under an social services came to their doors. One fam-
Colorado to
established system of home study ily fled the state in the middle of the night
pursue tru-
approved by the state board [of because they had been threatened by social
ancy charges
education].”15 Until 1980, the State services.19
families who Board of Education had no list of
educated approved programs and no formal Many Christian parents believed they had a
their children rules regulating homeschooling. right to homeschool guaranteed by the First
at home. Some believed the State Board of Amendment’s freedom of religion clause, as
Education’s authority over home upheld in Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972). An
education programs was unconstitutional Amish community in Wisconsin claimed that
because the Colorado Constitution did not compulsory education past the eighth grade
give the State Board of Education explicit au- violated their religious beliefs. The U.S. Su-
thority over non-public education pro- preme Court ruled: “The State’s requirement
grams.16 of compulsory formal education after the
eighth grade would gravely endanger, if not
In the fall of 1980, a rural school district on destroy, the free exercise of respondents’ reli-
Colorado’s Western Slope discontinued bus gious beliefs.”20
service to families who lived 30 miles away

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However, pro-homeschooling lawyer Clint homeschooled children as truants who
Bolick argued that all homeschooling par- needed to be placed in a traditional school
ents, regardless of religious preference, could setting to protect them from potential physi-
claim a right to homeschool under the Four- cal abuse or an inadequate education at
teenth Amendment’s liberty clause, which home.
declares “…nor shall any State deprive any
person of life, liberty, or property, without Rules and Regulations Created
due process of law…”21 U.S. Supreme Court In 1980 the Colorado State Board of Educa-
rulings such as Meyer v. State of Nebraska tion adopted rules and regulations for the
(1923)22 and Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) “administration of an established system of
used the Fourteenth Amendment to establish home study programs,” with the intent that
precedent for parental rights in directing “all students seeking the alternative of home
control of their children’s education. The study are assured a well-considered educa-
Pierce decision states: tional program.”25 The State Board
for the first time created a list of Families
The fundamental theory of liberty upon “approved” home study correspon- who wanted
which all governments in this Union re- dence courses. Though several home to home-
pose excludes any general power of the study programs were on the ap- school were
state to standardize its children by forc- given three
proved list, homeschool mother Judy
ing them to accept instruction from pub- options by
Gelner recalls that parents had little
the State
lic teachers only. The child is not the choice in curricula because there were
Board of
mere creature of the state; those who nur- only two programs available for any
ture him and direct his destiny have the one grade level.26
all of which
right, coupled with the high duty, to rec-
required per-
ognize and prepare him for additional Families who wanted to homeschool mission from
obligations.23 were given three options by the State local or state
Board of Education, all of which re- education
But state and local officials could also point quired permission from local or state officials.
to cases that recognized the state’s interest in education officials:
education as well. For instance, the U.S. Su- • Parents could purchase state-approved
preme Court ruling in Board of Education v. curricula
Allen (1968), established that states had the • Parents without teaching certificates
power “to insist that attendance at private could choose their own curricula if their
schools, if it is to satisfy state compulsory school district of residence gave its approval
attendance laws, be at institutions which pro- • Parents who held valid teaching certifi-
vide minimum hours of instruction, employ cates could homeschool their children with
teachers of specified training, and cover pre- curricula of their choice27
scribed subjects of instruction.”24
Some families educated their children in rela-
The lack of clarity in statute and case law cre- tive freedom and could choose their own cur-
ated tension between homeschoolers and riculum because local school district officials
Colorado school districts. Parents believed were friendly toward homeschooling
their right to homeschool was protected by (though a change in administration could
the Colorado and United States Constitu- always bring tighter restrictions or revoca-
tions. Many local school districts viewed tions of approvals to homeschool). However,

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several school districts refused any requests were largely unregulated. Until 1983, private
to homeschool no matter how dedicated the schools were only required to provide “a ba-
parents were or that they were willing to use sic academic education comparable to that
a state-approved curriculum and to follow provided in the public schools…”30 Some
the State Board of Education’s rules. families enrolled in existing private schools
that offered courses students could complete
Aurora Public Schools adopted a policy in at home, or in correspondence programs.
September 1983 that it would not approve Other families created their own curriculum
home study applications except “under the for their “private schools.”
most compelling of circumstances.”
In the un- The Aurora Board of Education The ambiguity of what constituted a
charted stated that even though state law “comparable” education for private schools
homeschool- allowed the State Board of Educa- led then-Colorado Commissioner of Educa-
ing waters of tion to approve home study pro- tion Calvin Frazier to appoint a committee to
the early grams, those programs “are inade- set academic standards for private schools.
1980s, many quate substitutions for the quality The committee hearing in September 1981
of education instruction, curricu- drew out hundreds of religious school lead-
chose to in-
lum, and environment available ers in opposition to the state standards,
through Aurora Public Schools.”28 which were not adopted.31
their homes
as private
Some families who desired to In 1983, the legislature attempted to set stan-
schools, as
homeschool in Aurora or other un- dards for private schools in House Bill 1346.
they were
largely un- friendly school districts simply did The amended bill that ultimately passed only
regulated. not notify the district they were required that certain subjects to be taught but
homeschooling. Families denied did not specify levels of proficiency.
approval by school districts could appeal to
the State Board of Education but would be House Bill 1346 contained an important
required to use a state-approved curriculum. change to homeschool families. Prior to the
bill’s passage, compulsory attendance law
The State Board of Education approved stated that a student who “attends” an inde-
many of the appeals from parents in adver- pendent or parochial school was exempt
sarial districts such as Aurora, but not all. from compulsory attendance laws. The 1983
One family submitted plans to the St. Vrain legislation struck the word “attends,” and
Valley School District to use an approved instead exempted from compulsory atten-
home study program three weeks after they dance a student “who is enrolled… in an inde-
had received a court order to return their 13- pendent or parochial school which provides
year-old to school. The district turned down a basic academic education.”32
the request, and the State Board of Education
denied the appeal because the family had Parents whose children were “enrolled” in
failed to follow court orders.29 established private schools but “attended”
school at home believed the change from
One-Family School House “attends” to “enrolled” would allow them to
In the uncharted homeschooling waters of home-educate without public school district
the early 1980s, many families chose to incor- interference. However, these families contin-
porate their homes as private schools, as they ued to face persecution.

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In the fall of 1983, Pete and Roxy Olson, in part because the district’s lawyer mistak-
along with Alan and Bobbi Sloan, enrolled enly filed the case as a civil, not a juvenile
their children in Christian Liberty Academy’s case, which prevented the court from order-
correspondence courses and incorporated ing the removal of the children. The lawyer
their homes as satellite locations of the pri- was later fired, likely because of his mis-
vate school. The Olsons and Sloans even es- take.34
tablished a board of education to oversee
their schools (though the children were The case gave hope to other homeschoolers
taught by their parents in their own homes). that they too could fight their school dis-
The families removed their children from trict.35 Some did, though not all with the
Windsor Public Schools because of atheist same success.
and humanist philosophies that ran counter
to their Christian faith. The last straw for the Confusion continued over the “enrolled” lan-
Olson family came when the principal would guage in compulsory school attendance law.
not allow them to opt their elementary school In 1985, the Colorado Department of Educa-
children out of sex education classes. The tion (CDE) informed school districts that sim-
principal told the family they lost jurisdiction ple “enrollment” in a private school should
over what their children were taught when not necessarily exempt a student from the
they enrolled them in the public school.33 compulsory school attendance law. A CDE
analysis concluded: “Merely enrolling in a
Though the families were “enrolled” in private or parochial school does not
Christian Liberty Academy and should have automatically meet the compulsory In 1985, the
been exempt from compulsory school atten- school attendance requirements of Colorado
dance law, the school district served the Ol- the law….the parent would have to
of Education
sons and Sloans with truancy notices in Octo- utilize the statutory provisions for
ber. The families hired a lawyer and pro- home study to fulfill the compulsory
school dis-
ceeded to go through with the court case, de- attendance law.”36 Thus, students
tricts that
spite plenty of reasons to be fearful. The year could enroll in a private school
before, in a nationally publicized case, 12 fa- (which might provide record-keeping
thers had spent a year in a Nebraska jail for or testing services), but they would in a private
opposing state jurisdiction over their private need to use curriculum approved by school
Christian school. Other states had taken the State Board of Education. should not
homeschooled children from their families. necessarily
The Olsons and Sloans believed such reper- The interpretation of “enrolled” was exempt a stu-
cussions were possible for them as well. As it settled in 1987. Widefield School Dis- dent from the
was, they did not have much support from trict pressed truancy charges against compulsory
family or friends. the Bohl family, who educated their school atten-
children at home under the auspices dance law.
Windsor Public Schools ultimately dropped of a private school. The court ruled in
the case, citing financial costs as the main the family’s favor, arguing that the legisla-
reason, with the official dismissal coming on ture had not defined where a private or paro-
February 9, 1984. After the court case was chial school student must study, so if the
over, the families learned the school district school allowed the student to study at home
had planned to remove their children from he could be considered enrolled and exempt
their home. The plan did not succeed, at least from compulsory attendance law.37 The deci-

Page 7
sion did not directly affect independent Around the same time, state Representative
homeschoolers (those who educated their Mike Bird’s daughter Amy had entered pub-
children at home without the support of a lic school. She was bored by her school work
private school), but it was a victory for fami- and was learning non-academic subject mat-
lies who educated their children at home un- ter from her peers not appropriate for a 6-
der the supervision of a private school. It also year-old. Representative Bird and his wife
clarified that these families were not decided to homeschool their daughter,
“homeschooling,” but were under private though neither parent held a teaching certifi-
school law. cate nor used state-approved curriculum.40

Homeschoolers Begin Working with CDE The CHSAC had made some progress with
In the mid-1980s, 12 homeschooling families the State Board of Education’s approval of
not using state-approved curricula were several more home study programs.41 How-
fighting lawsuits brought by Jefferson ever, Representative Bird also became aware
County School District. Another that some people within CDE were consider-
In the mid- small group of Jefferson County ing tighter restrictions on homeschoolers to
1980s, 12 parents who were interested in bring Colorado in line with the strictest states
homeschool- homeschooling their children met in the country. These restrictions included a
ing families with State Commissioner of Educa- requirement that any family who incorpo-
not using tion Cal Frazier to ask that the State rated their home as a private school register
state- with the state, regardless of whether the local
Board of Education add curricula
that was already being used by par- school district approved or not.42 Representa-
ents to the list of approved home- tive Bird drafted legislation for the upcoming
were fighting
study programs. One of the parents, 1986 legislative session that would have lim-
Terry Kipp, says Cal Frazier set the ited local and state oversight of homeschool-
brought by
tone for very positive interaction ing and only required testing every other
with the State Board of Education. year.43
School Dis- Commissioner Frazier asked the
trict. parents if they would be part of a Commissioner Frazier brought together the
committee to meet monthly with differing groups and negotiated a solution
the Colorado Department of Education without legislation. CDE agreed not increase
(CDE). The Commissioner also arranged for regulations, and Representative Bird agreed
the 12 court cases to be suspended for one not to introduce the bill he had drafted.44
year while the committee worked together.38
Desire for Homeschool Legislation Grows
In 1985, CDE formed the Colorado Home Living in Colorado Springs School District
Schoolers Advisory Committee (CHSAC), 11, CHSAC members and homeschool par-
which had grown to include 10 homeschool- ents Treon and Dean Goossen were able to
ing parents and two CDE staff members. A freely homeschool their children with the
letter from CDE to Colorado superintendents district’s permission. During her time on
and school board members stated that the CHSAC, Goossen did not see evidence that
purpose of the group was to establish and CDE seriously attempted to alleviate conflict
maintain communication between CDE and between homeschoolers and school districts.
homeschoolers and to lessen the conflict be-
tween homeschoolers and school districts.39

Page 8
Goossen attended several State Board of Among those committed to a legislative solu-
Education meetings and was disturbed by tion was homeschool mother Rory Schnee-
the dismissive attitude of the Board’s mem- berger. She researched homeschool laws in
bers as they laughed about the number of 18 other states and found statutes in three
homeschooling requests that were rejected states (Alaska, Georgia, and Wyoming) to
by school districts. Goossen resigned from serve as model legislation, because she said
CHSAC and joined forces with others around the laws were “least obtrusive and most free-
the state who sought to clarify the law.45 As ing” for homeschoolers.49 Lawyer and
parents in Colorado faced truancy officers, homeschool father William Moritz also was
court orders, police questioning, and social heavily involved in drafting the bill intro-
service visits, it became apparent to Goossen duced into the legislature.50
and others that the law needed to change.
Schneeberger was instrumental in finding a
Around the state various support groups— legislator to sponsor a bill. She approached
small groups of homeschool parents who Representative MaryAnne Tebedo (R-
shared ideas and encouraged one another— Colorado Springs) with the offer to help run
held meetings in the summer and fall of 1986 her office at the Capitol two days a week so
to discuss the possibility of another legisla- that Schneeberger could build relationships
tive bill. with other legislators and educate them
about homeschooling. Representative Tebedo
In 1986, a new statewide homeschool organi- hired (for no pay) Schneeberger and
zation, the Colorado Home Educators’ Asso- her children, who would dress up in ...several
ciation (CHEA), was formed to represent lo- suits and ties to go to “work.” The homeschool-
cal grassroots homeschool groups located children studied when not running ing parents
across Colorado. In a survey designed to errands for the legislator.
to send infor-
form the mission and purpose for the group,
mative arti-
respondents rated the importance of 18 dif- In spring 1987, Senator Joe Winkler
cles to legis-
ferent potential roles for the new organiza- (R-Castle Rock) and Representative
lators every
tion. Out of about 40 returned question- Bill Owens (R-Aurora) sponsored
week during
naires, the number one response was Senate Bill 138, which was the first the 1987
“Changing Colorado Home Schooling introduced legislative bill that would hearings…
Law.”46 have established definitions and
guidelines for home-based education in
CHEA created its own draft legislation, but Colorado. The proposed legislation man-
that particular draft did not reach the legisla- dated the teaching of particular academic
ture because of disagreement about what the subjects but gave parents the freedom to
bill should look like or whether there should choose their own curricula.51
be a bill at all.47 Among parents opposed to
legislation, some did not want any state in- Because homeschooling was a relatively new
terference whatsoever, while others believed idea, several homeschooling parents coordi-
the rules and regulations worked and were nated to send informative articles to legisla-
concerned that homeschoolers would not tors every week during the 1987 hearings,
have control over future legislative educating them about various aspects of
changes.48 homeschooling and answering objections
brought up in committee hearings.52

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The letters and testimony from homeschool- The emergency rules gave homeschoolers
ing parents were supplemented by expert much more freedom than they had under the
testimony about the benefits of homeschool- old rules. Some parents were content with
ing from education researcher Dr. Raymond the new rules.58 However, other homeschool-
Moore and professor and lawyer Dr. John ers disapproved because the rules were still
Eidsmoe (who also wrote an Issue Paper for more restrictive than public and private
the Independence Institute advocating for school requirements.59 Parents were also con-
clarification of the law53). cerned that, as quickly as the rules had
changed for the better, shifting political senti-
Commissioner Frazier opposed the bill. “For ments of the elected seven-member State
the parent who is committed to a home- Board of Education could lead to onerous
school program, this will be good. For the new restrictions.60
parent who wants to abuse the law, this
opens more doors.”54 Other problems arose after the rules were
adopted. Despite a rule that specifically
Amended to require standardized stated that school districts were to “enroll or
The emer-
testing, the bill passed in the Sen- reenroll any home study child(ren) in a pub-
gency rules
ate.55 The bill next went to the Re- lic school without discrimination or preju-
gave home-
publican-controlled House Educa- dice,” homeschoolers still faced challenges in
tion Committee. However, their local school districts.61 For example, any
much more
freedom than homeschooling faced bipartisan op- parent who notified Jefferson County School
they had un- position. Committee members be- District of the intent to homeschool also had
der the old lieved the bill gave parents too to sign a form agreeing with the district’s re-
rules. much freedom and would not pro- entry policy. The policy stated that
tect children who might not receive homeschoolers who entered high school at
an adequate education at home. The bill was any grade level could only receive a maxi-
defeated in an 8-3 vote in the House Educa- mum of two credit hours, regardless of what
tion Committee on April 1, 1987.56 students had studied at home.62

Favorable Rules Are Not Good Enough There were two schools of thought among
In August 1987, the Colorado Home School- parents who were unhappy with the new
ers Advisory Committee brought about some rules: One was to challenge the rules in court,
additional positive changes for homeschool- the other was to seek a statutory change to
ers. The State Board of Education adopted give stronger legal protection to homeschool
“Emergency Rules” for home study pro- families. The legal challenge never material-
grams. The rules allowed parents to notify ized but momentum built for a legislative
school districts of their intent to homeschool solution.
(rather than request approval) and to choose
their own curriculum. At the request of some Moms Take Charge
homeschool parents, the rules regarding aca- The very nature of homeschooling—
demic progress were also changed from stu- hundreds of independent-minded families
dents being “available for evaluation” which educating their children at home—did not
sometimes meant meeting with the local lend itself well to a cohesive lobbying effort.
public school principal, to more straightfor- The failure of the 1987 legislation led
ward annual standardized testing.57 Goossen and Schneeberger to the conclusion

Page 10
that a leader was needed. In the summer of The Bill is Re-Born
1987, Schneeberger sent a letter to each Early in the 1988 legislative session, Senators
homeschool support group in the state ask- Meiklejohn and Winkler and Representative
ing for input, and suggested that she and Bond introduced Senate Bill 56—a bill nearly
Goossen would take the lead to promote nec- identical to the one presented in 1987. The
essary homeschool legislation.63 bill declared, “…it is the primary right and
obligation of the parent to choose the proper
After the 1987 legislative session ended, Sen- education and training for children under his
ate Education Committee Chairman Al Meik- care and supervision.” The proposed legisla-
lejohn (R-Arvada) called Schneeberger to say tion required the educational program to in-
he had been troubled after hearing the testi- clude reading, writing, speaking, math, his-
mony of Drs. Eidsmoe and Moore. Senator tory, civics, literature, science, and
Meiklejohn said he would not personally regular instruction on the U.S. Consti- Senator
homeschool, but that he thought parents tution. Parents were required to no- Meiklejohn
should be allowed to homeschool if they so tify (rather than ask for approval said he
chose. He planned to carry a homeschool bill from) the school district of residence would not
in the 1988 session.64 of their intent to homeschool; to pro- personally
vide for standardized testing in homeschool,
On November 11, 1987, Schneeberger and grades two, five, eight, and ten, or the but that he
Goossen met with Senator Meiklejohn and thought
equivalent age; and to maintain edu-
Representative Dick Bond (D-Greeley). Bond parents
cation and health records. Parents
was skeptical about homeschooling, but was should be
were not required to hold a teaching
willing to sponsor the bill in the House of allowed to
Representatives. Senator Meiklejohn said he homeschool
would sponsor a bill similar to the one pro- if they so
The bill was heard in the Senate Edu-
posed in 1987, on the condition that Schnee- chose. He
cation Committee on January 14, planned to
berger and Goossen be present at every com- 1988. Some opponents perceived the carry a
mittee meeting. He wanted them to be the bill as anti-public education. How- homeschool
“citizen sponsors” to give their consent or ever, this view was dispelled in part bill in the
dissent to legislative amendments. He was simply because of who sponsored it. 1988 session.
willing to kill the bill if amendments were In his opening statement, Senator
unacceptable to Goossen and Schneeberger. Meiklejohn stated, “My own view is that it
Senator Meiklejohn said the 1987 bill had [Senate Bill 56] is amply justified….I don’t
died for lack of a leader. Schneeberger and have to defend my respect and support of the
Goossen made the commitment, despite the public schools. This is not an attack on public
long distance to the Capitol in Denver from schools. Probably 80 percent of the popula-
their homes in Woodland Park (95 miles) and tion are served well to one degree or another
Colorado Springs (70 miles) respectively. by public schools. Twenty percent are not. It
Goossen was also pregnant with her fifth seems to me there must be a variety of edu-
child. cational options for youngsters and young
people of the state of Colorado.”67
At the meeting, Representative Bond warned
that it could take two to five years to educate Representative Bond also came before the
legislators about homeschooling before legis- committee to defend the bill. “There could be
lation would be adopted.65 nothing more surprising than to find two

Page 11
persons who are so wholeheartedly support- of the debate fiercely defended their posi-
ing of public schools to be carrying a bill tions. The Denver Post published a house edi-
such as this, because many people perceive torial titled, “‘Home school’ bill dangerous.”
this as being an attack upon the public The Post asserted that “home schooling zeal-
schools, which of course it isn’t.”68 ots are demanding, through SB 56, that they
be freed of any accountability what-
The senate sponsor of the 1987 bill, Senator ever….Even without deliberate abuse, most
Winkler, testified of his purpose in co- students in home study programs are at least
sponsoring Senate Bill 56, “It’s been my de- victims of educational malpractice.’”72
sire for a long time to give them the flexibil-
ity under our statute to carry on with what I While Representative Bond initially had
feel is a very valuable program for those peo- feared homeschooled children would fall be-
ple who choose it.”69 hind their public school peers academically,
he came to appreciate that the parents were
Opponents claimed that Senate Bill as concerned about academic quality as he
56 lacked accountability for aca- was.73 The Rocky Mountain News quoted Bond
demic progress, and that it would saying, “I may disagree with them a lot, but
continued to
open the door for parents to hide I’m convinced they’re sincere and they have
educate leg-
child abuse. Senator Janna Mendez the best interests of their children at heart.”74
(D-Longmont) claimed “the law
about the
necessity of would let parents ‘treat children as Lobbying for the bill was not easy, and the
the bill, in- property’ and to grow up without opposition was intent on its defeat. Goossen
cluding an education if they chose to.”70 and Schneeberger became aware that phrases
alignment of Meiklejohn responded to Mendez’ they had used in phone conversations were
Colorado criticisms saying, “There’s an infer- coming up in committee meetings “almost
law with ence that everything would be just verbatim.” They concluded that someone
U.S. Consti- okay if they were in public school.” must have been using a listening device, pos-
tutional Meiklejohn asked, rhetorically, sibly outside of Schneeberger’s secluded
principles. “What do we do with kids in public Woodland Park home. Schneeberger began
schools that are failing?” He de- to go to a phone booth to call Goossen, and
fended homeschooling saying, “I can’t accept they also developed a code for phone conver-
the fact that a youngster who isn’t perform- sations.75
ing well in homeschooling might perform
better in a public school.”71 Homeschool advocates continued to educate
legislators about the necessity of the bill, in-
The bill passed the Senate Education Com- cluding alignment of Colorado law with U.S.
mittee after more than two hours of testi- Constitutional principles. Representative
mony and debate. The bill passed the full Bond received a letter in February from the
Senate on January 25, 1988, but still had to national Home School Legal Defense Asso-
pass in the House, where the previous year’s ciation Executive Director Chris Klicka which
legislation had died. cited several court cases upholding the right
of parents to direct their children’s educa-
More than a month passed before the bill tion. Klicka argued the bill “would provide
made its way to a hearing in the House of the necessary protection of parental rights
Representatives. During that time, both sides guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth

Page 12
Amendments of the U.S. Constitution…. Representative Bond also argued that the
Senate Bill 56 would cure the vagueness of State Board of Education lacked legal author-
the present law, providing clear standards to ity to impose rules on any non-public educa-
be met by home schoolers.”76 tional program and that those rules could be
successfully challenged in court: “The Colo-
Speaker of the House Carl Bledsoe (R-Hugo) rado Constitution…is quite clear that the
referred Senate Bill 56 to the State Affairs function of the State Board of Education is to
Committee, chaired by Representative oversee the public schools.”80 The
Owens. Thus, the bill bypassed the House passage of the bill would make ques- “ the edu-
Education Committee, which was dominated tions surrounding the State Board of cation of
by established school lobbying groups. Education rules moot. children fun-
damentally a
Representative Bond’s opening comments in Rory Schneeberger brought another responsibil-
the State Affairs Committee established sev- benefit of the bill to light: “I think this ity of the
eral reasons why he believed the bill was is a refreshing change for this com- state or the
necessary. “The fundamental issue—and we mittee….We are not asking for parents? Phi-
ought to remember that in all of our discus- money.”81 However, that did not
I came down
sions—is the education of children funda- mean money played no part in the
on the side
mentally a responsibility of the state or the conflict between school districts and
that it is,
parents? Philosophically, I came down on the homeschoolers.
basically, the
side that it is, basically, the responsibility of
the parent. And legally, I think that conclu- Representative Bond gave voice to
ity of the
sion has been upheld in three separate court the opinion held by many parent.”
cases by the United States Supreme Court.”77 homeschoolers that much of the op- - State Rep-
position to homeschooling came from resentative
Several people who testified before the com- the desire for public schools to retain Dick Bond
mittee disagreed with Representative Bond’s the per pupil funding that each stu-
conclusion. Jane Urschel, representing the dent represented. He argued for an amend-
Colorado Parent Teacher Association, stated ment that allowed parents to report test re-
that, “Constitutionally, the responsibility for sults to a private school, rather than the local
education lies with the state. And the state public school, in order to protect families
chooses to allow parents to teach their chil- from school district harassment. He said har-
dren at home if they wish.” She argued that a assment came in two forms: one was ideo-
law should not be created because it was not logical disagreement, and the other was that
possible to know yet whether the new rules each child represented about $3,400 which,
would work or not.78 he said, “is a heck of a way to make educa-
tional decisions.”82 The amendment, along
Several homeschoolers testified that they with several others, was adopted, and the bill
were not registered with the state under the passed out of the House State Affairs com-
State Board’s rules. Homeschool mother mittee on a 7-3 vote on March 8, 1988.83
Leona Hemmerich stated that homeschooling
was an inalienable right guaranteed by the Four days before the debate on the House
U.S. Constitution and that she was not violat- floor, Representative Bond sent a letter to his
ing the law because the State Board of Educa- House colleagues outlining reasons to sup-
tion rules were not law.79 port the bill, including some constitutional

Page 13
arguments found in Klicka’s letter. Represen- new language required parents to maintain
tative Bond believed the vague compulsory immunization, test, and attendance records
education law could be challenged success- for the school district to review, but only
fully in court and wanted to avoid the “costs when the district had “probable cause.” The
and confrontations of such a case.” His letter provision put some opponents at ease, know-
further stated the bill was necessary “both to ing that a school district could examine re-
protect home schoolers from local harass- cords. But Goossen explains that the clause
ment and the shifting make-up of the [State] also gave homeschoolers a great deal of pro-
Board of Education and to protect the state.” tection from state interference, for “probable
His letter ended with a plea to fellow House cause” does not allow schools to engage in
members: “I urge your careful thinking fishing expeditions with no reason to believe
through of this issue, for your initial reaction that a family has done anything wrong.86
may be similar to my initial opposition.”84
The changes quelled many fears. Even the
Through the legislative process sev- Denver Post endorsed the bill, believing it to
The Gover-
eral amendments were added. Ad- be more protective of children who might be
nor chose
ministration of the same standard- victims of abuse. The paper gave credit to
neither to
ized test used in the local public Representative Bond, saying the bill “now
sign nor veto
the bill, and schools was required, beginning not represents a responsible road map through a
it became in grade two, but in grade three, hazy swamp of state and federal constitu-
law without and also for grades five, seven, tional issues.”87 On March 21, 1988, the bill
the Gover- nine, and eleven, or the equivalent passed the House on third reading. A Senate
nor’s signa- age. Some parents were upset be- conference committee approved the House
ture on May cause the bill required homeschool changes, and the bill was sent to Governor
10, 1988. students to be tested at a younger Roy Romer for his signature. Supporters of
age and in more grade levels than the bill feared the Governor would veto the
public school students. Despite parental con- bill. The Governor chose neither to sign nor
cerns, the law was less restrictive than the veto the bill, and it became law without the
annual testing required by the State Board of Governor’s signature on May 10, 1988.
Education rules.
After the session had ended, Goossen real-
Another amendment mandated that students ized how important the battle against
who scored at or below the 13th percentile on homeschooling was to her opponents. One
the standardized test be placed in a private June morning, Goossen’s phone and fax lines
or public school until the next testing period. were acting odd: phone calls were coming to
the fax and faxes were coming to the phone.
To calm fears about using the law to hide Her husband, who worked for the phone
child abuse, the bill also required that par- company, checked the main phone lines and
ents provide 14 days notice to their local found broken plaster underneath their com-
school district before establishing the home puter desk on the floor of their bedroom. The
education program.85 phone and fax lines had been switched. It
was apparent that someone had come back
Another provision, added at the suggestion for a listening device they had put in their
of the Home School Legal Defense Associa- home months ago, not bothering to keep the
tion, helped overcome some opposition. The wall intact or to rewire the phone lines cor-

Page 14
rectly. Someone—unknown to this day—had innocent,” to explain her and her husband’s
broken into their home twice to wiretap involvement in changing the law.91
Goossen’s conversations. “What threat were
two moms—one pregnant?” asks Goossen.88 Though it sometimes seems as though politi-
cians are entrenched in their positions, the
Lessons Learned homeschool bill shows it is possible for pol-
The passage of the homeschool law offers icy makers to genuinely change their minds
lessons for all citizens. Homeschool mother and work together when presented with
Judy Gelner calls the passage of the law “an solid arguments and real need. Legislators
example of democracy in action.” What op- put reasonable guidelines in place with the
ponents of the bill believed was a massive, trust that parents could and would seek to
well-funded homeschool lobby was in reality provide a quality education for their chil-
a group of parents who simply wanted to dren.
teach their children at home with curricular
materials that made sense for their children.89 While many laws place restrictions
Ordinary citizens with a common goal were on citizens, the homeschool law
citizens with
able to work through the legislative process granted more freedom to families
a common
to establish a law they believed would help than they had under CDE’s rules and
goal were
them provide the best education for their regulations, while also aligning state able to work
children. But, Gelner says, grassroots action law with the U.S. Constitutional prin- through the
works best when policy decisions are kept at ciple that parents have the right to legislative
the state and local level.90 determine educational programs for process to
their children. establish a
It was vital for a coalition of parents to edu- law they be-
cate legislators about homeschooling. Parents Always Vigilant lieved would
wrote letters and packed hearing rooms dur- Every year, Goossen still tracks legis- help them
ing important committee meetings, provid- lation that affects homeschoolers, provide the
ing verbal and visible evidence of the need drives thousands of miles to and best educa-
for the bill. from the Capitol, and sends e-mail tion for their
alerts to hundreds of homeschoolers children.
Cohesive leadership was also necessary. The across the state who make phone
passage of the bill was greatly aided by the calls, send letters, and show up at the Capitol
leadership of Senator Al Meiklejohn, Repre- when necessary. While there have been many
sentative Dick Bond, Treon Goossen, and attempted attacks to weaken the homeschool
Rory Schneeberger. The legislators took po- law, not one has succeeded. In fact, the law
litical risks. Goossen and Schneeberger made has become stronger. Some of the more im-
financial and personal sacrifices, and were portant changes are listed below.
subjected to invasion of their privacy. Inter-
estingly, neither Goossen nor Schneeberger In 1994, Senate Bill 4 contained three impor-
faced the type of persecution that many tant changes. First, students unable to take
homeschooling families in Colorado experi- tests due to learning disabilities or with other
enced, because they lived in homeschool- legitimate test-taking difficulties were given
friendly school districts. Schneeberger says, the opportunity to be evaluated by a quali-
“Peter and I are interested in helping the fied person to prove their academic progress
rather than on a standardized assessment.

Page 15
If the evaluation shows the student has not Colorado (CHEC), draws about 4,000 people
made sufficient academic progress, the par- to its annual conference.96 These grassroots
ents must place the student in a private or networks are active and vital, especially
public school.92 when there is a threat to homeschool free-
doms in Colorado.
Senate Bill 4 also eliminated two provisions.
First, the requirement to use the same test as The National Education Association (NEA),
the local school district was changed to allow the nation’s largest teachers’ union, opposes
parents to choose any nationally standard- most forms of homeschooling. (The organiza-
ized test. Second, the bill removed tion’s state affiliate, the Colorado Education
After 20 the equivalent age requirement for Association, is one of the most powerful lob-
years, Colo-
testing. Prior to the bill’s passage, bying forces at the State Capitol.) The 2008
rado school
children had to be tested when they NEA resolutions include the following state-
boards still
reached the “equivalent age” for ment:
advocate for
grades three, five, seven, nine, or
greater re-
eleven. The change meant a parent The National Education Association be-
strictions on
could hold a child back for a year lieves that home schooling programs
and test for third-grade skills even based on parental choice cannot provide
though the child’s equivalent age the student with a comprehensive educa-
might put him in grade four (however, test- tion experience…. Instruction should be
ing must still be done in grades three, five, by persons who are licensed by the ap-
seven, nine, and eleven).93 propriate state education licensure
agency, and a curriculum approved by
The homeschool law was amended in 2000 to the state department of education should
allow parents to notify any school district in be used.97
the state of their intent to homeschool, rather
than the school district in which the student Although the NEA asserts that a parent
resides.94 should hold a teaching license in order to
homeschool, comprehensive research about
In 2006, the maximum compulsory school homeschoolers’ academic achievement finds
attendance age was raised from 16 to 17, and “no significant difference in the achievement
in 2007 the minimum age was lowered from levels of home school students whose par-
7 to 6. However, both bills exempted stu- ents are certified and those that are not.”98
dents under the homeschool law, allowing
parents to formally begin their homeschool After 20 years, Colorado school boards still
program at age 7 and continue only until age advocate for greater restrictions on
16 (though a notice of intent to homeschool homeschoolers. A resolution approved by
must be filed with the school district at age the Colorado Association of School Boards
6).95 Delegate Assembly in October 2008 recom-
mends amending the homeschool law to,
The homeschool community in Colorado has among other things, increase the amount of
grown in size and influence, with dozens of testing and minimum score allowed on
local homeschooling groups. A large state- achievement tests. The approved resolution
wide group, Christian Home Educators of states:

Page 16
The current requirement that home- The trust legislators placed in parents has
schooled students only need to meet the been vindicated. Homeschooling is generally
13th percentile on a nationally- well-respected as a viable educational option
standardized test in order to remain in a in Colorado and the nation, producing aca-
home-based education program is not demically competent students. National
sufficient….Annual testing would pro- studies of homeschooled children
vide an accountability framework compa- show that they outperform their pub- The trust leg-
rable to public schools.99 lic school peers on standardized tests. islators
An extensive study of more than placed in
However, if performance at the 13th percen- 20,000 homeschoolers found, “Within parents has
tile (or a given level that CASB believes is each grade level and each skill area, been vindi-
appropriate for homeschoolers) is proof that the median scores for home school cated.
the child’s educator is a failure, then to be students fell between the 70th and Homeschool-
ing is gener-
consistent, CASB should support a law to 80th percentile of students nation-
ally well-
provide other options to children who score wide…. For younger students, this is
respected as
at the equivalent of the 13th percentile (or an- a one year lead. By the time home
a viable edu-
other given level), such as a scholarship to a school students are in 8th grade, they
cational op-
private school or transportation to a higher- are four years ahead of their public/
tion in Colo-
performing public school. private school counterparts.”100 rado and the
nation, pro-
Conclusion After two decades, it is easy to take ducing aca-
Today, some homeschool parents believe the for granted the opportunity to demically
law to be restrictive because of its require- homeschool in Colorado in relative competent
ments. However, according to Treon openness and freedom. However, the students.
Goossen, the law gives parents freedom— law likely will continue to face chal-
freedom to choose their own curricula, to test lenges that require consistent defense by
only in grades three, five, seven, nine, and homeschool families and other citizens who
eleven, and most importantly, to operate out- care about the right of parents to control the
side the supervision of the public school dis- education of their children.
trict. (Appendix 2 shows the changes in re-
quirements for homeschool families from
1980 to 2008.)

Page 17
Appendix 1 tor Licensing Act of 1991", article 60.5 of this
Colorado Revised Statutes § 22-33-104.5. title, nor to the provisions of article 61 of this title
Home-based education - legislative relating to teacher employment.
declaration - definitions - guidelines. (This is (b) A child who is participating in a nonpublic
an unofficial publication of Colorado home-based educational program shall not be sub-
Revised Statutes, current as of December ject to compulsory school attendance as provided
2008.) in this article; except that any child who is ha-
(1) The general assembly hereby declares that it is bitually truant, as defined in section 22-33-107
the primary right and obligation of the parent to (3), at any time during the last six months that
choose the proper education and training for chil- the child attended school before proposed enroll-
dren under his care and supervision. It is recog- ment in a nonpublic home-based educational pro-
nized that home-based education is a legitimate gram may not be enrolled in the program unless
alternative to classroom attendance for the in- the child's parents first submit a written descrip-
struction of children and that any regulation of tion of the curricula to be used in the program
nonpublic home-based educational programs along with the written notification of establish-
should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate a ment of the program required in paragraph (e) of
variety of circumstances. The general assembly subsection (2) of this section to the superinten-
further declares that nonpublic home-based edu- dent of a school district within the state.
cational programs shall be subject only to mini- (c) A nonpublic home-based educational program
mum state controls which are currently applicable shall include no less than one hundred seventy-
to other forms of nonpublic education. two days of instruction, averaging four instruc-
(2) As used in this section: tional contact hours per day.
(a) "Nonpublic home-based educational program" (d) A nonpublic home-based educational program
means the sequential program of instruction for shall include, but need not be limited to, commu-
the education of a child which takes place in a nication skills of reading, writing, and speaking,
home, which is provided by the child's parent or mathematics, history, civics, literature, science,
by an adult relative of the child designated by the and regular courses of instruction in the constitu-
parent, and which is not under the supervision tion of the United States as provided in section
and control of a school district. This educational 22-1-108.
program is not intended to be and does not qual- (e) Any parent establishing a nonpublic home-
ify as a private and nonprofit school. based educational program shall provide written
(b) "Parent" includes a parent or guardian. notification of the establishment of said program
(c) "Qualified person" means an individual who to a school district within the state fourteen days
is selected by the parent of a child who is partici- prior to the establishment of said program and
pating in a nonpublic home-based educational each year thereafter if the program is maintained.
The parent in charge and in control of a nonpub-
program to evaluate such child's progress and
lic home-based educational program shall certify,
who is a teacher licensed pursuant to article 60.5
in writing, only a statement containing the name,
of this title, a teacher who is employed by an inde-
age, place of residence, and number of hours of
pendent or parochial school, a licensed psycholo-
attendance of each child enrolled in said program.
gist, or a person with a graduate degree in educa-
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 22-33-
104 (1), a parent who intends to establish a non-
(3) The following guidelines shall apply to a non-
public home-based education program is not re-
public home-based educational program: quired to: (I) provide written notification of the
(a) A parent or an adult relative designated by a program to a school district within the state until
parent to provide instruction in a nonpublic the parent's child is six years of age; (II) establish
home-based educational program shall not be sub- the program until the parent's child is seven
ject to the requirements of the "Colorado Educa-

Page 18
years of age; or (III) continue the program or pro- propriate by the school district with the consent of
vide the notification after the child is sixteen the child's parent or legal guardian. The school
years of age. district shall accept the transcripts from the non-
(f) Each child participating in a nonpublic home- public home-based educational program for any
based educational program shall be evaluated such child.
when such child reaches grades three, five, seven, (5) (a) (I) If test results submitted to the appropri-
nine, and eleven. Each child shall be given a na- ate school district pursuant to the provisions of
tionally standardized achievement test to evaluate paragraph (f) of subsection (3) of this section
the child's academic progress, or a qualified per- show that a child participating in a nonpublic
son shall evaluate the child's academic progress. home-based educational program received a com-
The test or evaluation results, whichever is appro- posite score on said test which was above the thir-
priate, shall be submitted to the school district teenth percentile, such child shall continue to be
that received the notification required by para- exempt from the compulsory school attendance
graph (e) of this subsection (3) or an independent requirement of this article. If the child's composite
or parochial school within the state of Colorado. If score on said test is at or below the thirteenth per-
the test or evaluation results are submitted to an centile, the school district shall require the par-
independent or parochial school, the name of such ents to place said child in a public or independent
school shall be provided to the school district that or parochial school until the next testing period;
received the notification required by paragraph (e) except that no action shall be taken until the child
of this subsection (3). The purpose of such tests or is given the opportunity to be retested using an
evaluations shall be to evaluate the educational alternate version of the same test or a different
progress of each child. No scores for a child par- nationally standardized achievement test selected
ticipating in a nonpublic home-based educational
by the parent from a list of approved tests sup-
program shall be considered for awarding aca-
plied by the state board.
demic performance grades pursuant to section 22-
(II) If evaluation results submitted to the appro-
7-604 or for accreditation pursuant to Article 11
priate school district pursuant to the provisions of
of this title.
paragraph (f) of subsection (3) of this section
(g) The records of each child participating in a
show that the child is making sufficient academic
nonpublic home-based educational program shall
progress according to the child's ability, the child
be maintained on a permanent basis by the parent
in charge and in control of said program. The re- will continue to be exempt from the compulsory
cords shall include, but need not be limited to, school attendance requirement of this article. If
attendance data, test and evaluation results, and the evaluation results show that the child is not
immunization records, as required by sections 25- making sufficient academic progress, the school
4-901, 25-4-902, and 25-4-903, C.R.S. Such re- district shall require the child's parents to place
cords shall be produced to the school district that the child in a public or independent or parochial
received the notification required by paragraph (e) school until the next testing period.
of this subsection (3) upon fourteen days' written (b) If the child's test or evaluation results are sub-
notice if the superintendent of said school district mitted to an independent or parochial school, said
has probable cause to believe that said program is school shall notify the school district that received
not in compliance with the guidelines established the notification pursuant to paragraph (e) of sub-
in this subsection (3). section (3) of this section if the composite score on
(4) Any child who has participated in a nonpublic said test was at or below the thirteenth percentile
home-based educational program and who subse- or if the evaluation results show that the child is
quently enrolls in the public school system may be not making sufficient academic progress. The
tested by the school district for the purpose of school district shall then require the parents to
placing the child in the proper grade and shall proceed in the manner specified in paragraph (a)
then be placed at the grade level deemed most ap- of this subsection(5).

Page 19
(6) (a) If a child is participating in a nonpublic For purposes of section 22-32-116.5, the school
home-based educational program but also attend- district of attendance for a child who withdraws
ing a public school for a portion of the school day, from a public or private school more than fifteen
the school district of the public school shall be en- days after the start of the school year and enters a
titled to count such child in accordance with the nonpublic home-based educational program shall
provisions of section 22-54-103 (10) for purposes be the school district or private school from which
of determining pupil enrollment under the the child withdrew for the remainder of that
"Public School Finance Act of 1994", article 54 of school year. If, during the remainder of that aca-
this title. demic year, the child chooses to participate in ex-
(b)(I) For purposes of this subsection (6), a child tracurricular or interscholastic activities at the
who is participating in a nonpublic home-based same school and was eligible for participation
educational program shall have the same rights as prior to withdrawing from the school, the child
a student enrolled in a public or private school to remains eligible to participate at such school.
participate on an equal basis in any extracurricu- (c) No child participating in an extracurricular or
lar or interscholastic activity offered by a public interscholastic activity pursuant to paragraph (b)
school or offered by a private school, at the private of this subsection (6) shall be considered attend-
school's discretion, as provided in section 22-32- ing the public school district where the child par-
116.5 and is subject to the same rules of any in- ticipates in such activity for purposes of deter-
terscholastic organization or association of which mining pupil enrollment under paragraph (a) of
the student's school of participation is a member. this subsection (6).
(II) (A) Except as provided for in sub- (d) As used in this subsection (6),
subparagraph (B) of this subparagraph (II), for "extracurricular or interscholastic activities"
purposes of section 22-32-116.5, the school dis- shall have the same meaning as "activity" as set
trict of attendance for a child who is participating forth in section 22-32-116.5 (10).
in a nonpublic home-based educational program (e) If any fee is collected pursuant to this subsec-
shall be deemed to be the school district that re- tion (6) for participation in an activity the fee
ceived the notification pursuant to paragraph (e) shall be used to fund the particular activity for
of subsection (3) of this section. which it is charged and shall not be expended for
any other purpose.

Page 20
Appendix 2
The chart below shows the progression of regulations, rights, and responsibilities from 1980 when the
State Board of Education first passed rules and regulations, to 1987 when the State Board relaxed some
regulations, to the homeschool law that is in effect as of December 2008.

State Board of State Board of Current Homeschool Law

Education Rules: Education Emergency (as of December 2008)
1980 to August 1987 Rules:
September 1987 to
June 1988
Oversight Parents homeschool Parents homeschool Homeschool parents oversee
with State Board of with State Board of educational program (with
Education and local Education and local role for local school district
school district over- school district oversight superintendent to request stu-
sight (4.01, 4.02) (10.00, 11.00) dent records upon “probable
cause”) (3(g))

Instruction An average of four or Parents must teach each 172 days of instruction, aver-
Time more hours of class- child at least 688 hours aging four instructional con-
room work per day, 172 each year (4.00(2)) tact hours per day (3(c))
days per year (3.07)

Curriculum Home study systems Curriculum of parents’ Curriculum of parents’ choos-

approved by State choosing (containing ing, consisting of communica-
Board of Education specified subjects) with tion skills of reading, writing,
(2.01, 2.02); certified an outline of educational and speaking, mathematics,
teachers could design objectives and list of history, civics, literature, sci-
their own curriculum instructional materials ence, and the U.S. Constitu-
within parameters set to be used filed with lo- tion (3(d))
by State Board of Edu- cal school district (4.00
cation (3.02) (4), 5.00)

Approval/ Approval from school Annual notification to Annual written notice of in-
Notice of In- district of residence school district of resi- tent (exemption from compul-
tent to and/or State Board of dence (3.00) sory attendance law) filed
Homeschool Education (2.02, 4.03 with any Colorado school dis-
(5)) trict 14 days prior to estab-
lishment of homeschool pro-
gram; notification must in-
clude child’s name, age, place
of residence, and number of
hours of attendance (3(e))

Page 21
State Board of State Board of Current Homeschool Law
Education Rules: Education Emergency (as of December 2008)
1980 to August 1987 Rules:
September 1987 to
June 1988
Academic Home study systems to Annual testing by a cer- Students in grade levels three,
Evaluation send quarterly progress tified teacher or at a test- five, seven, nine, and eleven
reports to parents and ing site of the school must take a nationally stan-
local school district district’s choosing (6.00 dardized achievement test or
(3.06(2)), students (1)); students scoring at be evaluated by a qualified
must be “available for or below 13th percentile person; test or evaluation re-
evaluation,” including must be placed in public sults must be filed with the
standardized achieve- or private school unless school district that received
ment tests (3.07(3)) a corrective plan is mu- the notification or with a pri-
tually agreed upon or vate school in Colorado (3(f));
the local board of educa- students scoring at or below
tion determines the child the 13th percentile or whose
is qualified due to docu- evaluation shows insufficient
mented extenuating cir- academic progress must be
cumstances (6.03, 6.04) placed in a public or private
school (5(a))
Record Pupil progress reports Records of attendance, Records of attendance, test or
Keeping kept by curriculum test results, and immu- evaluation results, and immu-
provider and filed with nization kept at home nization retained by parent to
local school district and filed with local be provided to notified school
(3.06(2), 3.07(3)) school district (4.00(1)) district upon “probable
cause” (3(g))

Re-entry into School district must School district must en- Student may be tested by the
Public place student in appro- roll or re-enroll school district to determine
School Sys- priate grade, or grant homeschool students placement in the appropriate
tem secondary course cred- according to policies and grade level, with parental con-
its for work completed procedures established sent; school district must ac-
in the home study pro- by the school district of cept homeschool student tran-
gram at the school dis- residence without dis- scripts unless testing does not
trict’s discretion (4.02 crimination or prejudice verify transcript accuracy (4)
(9)) (10.00(8))

Colorado Code of Regulations 301-27, “Administration of an Established System of Home Study Programs,” Colo-
rado State Board of Education, adopted August 14, 1980, readopted September 18, 1980.
Colorado Code of Regulations 301-27, “Emergency Rules: Administration of an Established System of Home
Study,” Colorado State Board of Education, adopted August 13, 1987, readopted September 10, 1987.
Colorado Revised Statutes § 22-33-104.5.

Page 22
Notes 11 Colorado Department of Education, “Home based
1 A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, education fall 2004-2008,”
A Report to the Nation and the Secretary of Education,
National Commission on Excellence in Education, /2008PM/sohomeschool.pdf
12 Dr. Brian D. Ray, “Research Facts on Homeschool-
April 1983, ing,” National Home Education Research Institute, July
2 Prior to the mid-19th century, children were primarily 2, 2008,
taught at home or in private tuition-based religious Homeschooling.html
13 “1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United
schools (for those who could afford them). Thomas
Jefferson and John Adams, among others, advocated States in 2007,” U.S. Department of Education, Institute
for state-sponsored schools in order to produce better of Education Sciences, National Center for Education
educated and informed citizens. The first compulsory Statistics, Issue Brief 2009-030, December 2008,
education law was enacted in Massachusetts in 1852.
14 Colorado Constitution, Article IX, § 11.
Other states followed suit beginning in 1867, and by
15 Colo. Rev. Stats. § 22-33-104(2)(i)(II) (1973).
1918 compulsory education was law in every state in
16 Colorado Constitution, Article IX, § 1 states “The
the union, which resulted in the majority of American
children receiving formal education in state-sponsored general supervision of the public schools of the state
schools. See “A Homeschooler’s History of shall be vested in a board of education…”
17 AP, “Choice is offered,” Rocky Mtn News, April 21,
Homeschooling, Part II,” Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff, Gen-
tle Spirit Magazine (Vol. 6, No. 10), 1981. Christian Liberty Academy correspondence See courses were not on the approved list in 1981, but were
also: “Compulsory Education Laws: The Dialogue Re- given provisional approval in 1985.
18 Civil Action, Colorado District Court, Gunnison
opens,” The Home School Court Report, (Volume XVI,
Number 5), September/October 2000, http://www. County, No. 81-JV-3 (1981).
19 Treon Goossen, Home Education Legislative Ana-
3 “John Holt Biography,” lyst/Liaison for Colorado, personal conversation with
johnholtpage.html. More information about Holt and author, June 4, 2008.
20 Wisconsin v.Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972),
some Growing Without Schooling archives can be found
4 John Holt in “Plowboy Interview,” Mother Earth News, USSC_CR_0406_0205_ZO.html
21 Clint Bolick, “Request to develop case defending due
July/August 1980, pp. 11-16, reprinted on the Life Edu-
cation And Resource Network (LEARN) Web site, process rights of parents educating their children at home,” Memorandum to Mountain States Legal Foun-
5 Raymond S. Moore and Dorothy N. Moore, Better Late dation Board of Litigation, May 9, 1983. U.S. Const.
than Early (Reader’s Digest Press, Distributed by The amend. XIV, clause 1.
22 Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U. S. 390 (1923),
Moore Foundation, Camas, WA: 1975), p. xv.
6 Ibid., p. 51.
7 Ibid. See also: The Moore Foundation Web Site, “The USSC_CR_0262_0390_ZO.html
23 Pierce v. Society of the Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925),
Moore Formula,”
8 See Milton Gaither, “Home Schooling Goes Main- USSC_CR_0268_0510_ZO.html
24 Board of Education v. Allen , 392 U.S. 236 (1968),
stream,” Education Next (vol. 9, no. 1), http://www. The
article cites a National Household Education Survey USSC_CR_0392_0236_ZO.html
25 Colorado Code of Regulations 301-27,
from 2001 in which 70 percent of respondents gave
nonreligious reasons as the primary motivation to “Administration of an Established System of Home
homeschool. Study Programs,” Colorado State Board of Education,
9 Associated Press, “Choice is offered to family keeping adopted August 14, 1980, readopted September 18,
kids out of school,” Rocky Mountain News, April 21, 1980.
26 Judy Gelner, e-mail message to author, December 7,
10 Roy Brubacher, Assistant Commissioner, Colorado 2008. Judy Gelner is the author’s mother.
27 CCR 301-27 (1980).
Department of Education, testimony before Senate
28 Aurora Public Schools, Position Statement, “Home
Education Committee, Colorado General Assembly,
January 14, 1988. Colorado State Archives, legislative Study Programs,” Adopted September 1983.
29 Dorothy Hores, Director, Planning, Evaluation and
audio tapes.
Communication, letter to Roy Brubacher, Consultant of

Page 23
Home Study Programs, Colorado Department of Edu- 51 Senate Bill 87-138 (1987).
cation, March 19, 1987. Colorado State Board of Educa- 52 Gelner, personal conversation with author, April 19,
tion, Agenda Summary Sheet, Agenda Item B-3-C, 2008.
April 16, 1987. 53 Dr. John Eidsmoe, Home Education in Colorado: Clarify-
30 Colo. Rev. Stats. § 22-33-104(2)(b) (1973). ing Parents’ and Children’s Rights, Independence Insti-
31 Virginia Culver, “Education Law Doesn’t Require tute, Issue Paper no 4-87, (March 11, 1987).
License or Set Teacher Standards,” Denver Post, No- 54 James G. Wright, “Home-school bill advanced by

vember 14, 1982. Senate unit,” Rocky Mountain News, March 12, 1987.
32 House Bill 83-1346 (1983), emphasis added. 55 Senate Journal, fifty-sixth General Assembly, first
33 Pete and Roxy Olson, personal conversation with regular session, 65th legislative day, March 12, 1987, p.
author, July 8, 2008. 369.
34 Ibid. 56 Jeffrey A. Roberts, “Home-study flexibility bill bites
35 Ibid. the dust,” Denver Post, April 2, 1987.
36 Calvin M. Frazier, Colorado Commissioner of Educa- 57 Colorado Code of Regulations 301-27, “Emergency

tion, “Memorandum Concerning an Interpretation Re- Rules: Administration of an Established System of

garding the Word ENROLLED As it Appears in the Home Study,” Colorado State Board of Education,
Colorado School Attendance Law of 1963,” to Local adopted August 13, 1987, readopted September 10,
School Officials and Other Interested Persons, March 1987. Kipp, telephone conversation, February 6, 2009.
20, 1985. 58 Kipp, telephone conversation, February 6, 2009.
37 V. William Moritz, Attorney at Law, “Establishing an 59 Janet Bingham, “Parents consider challenging home-

Independent School.” Widefield School District v. Bohl, schooling rules,” August 14, 1987.
Colorado District Court, El Paso County, No. 86 JV 60 Goossen, personal conversation, June 4, 2008.

1389 (1987). 61 CCR 301-27 (1987), §10.00(8).

38 Terry Kipp, telephone conversation with author, Feb- 62 Judy Gelner, letter to state representative Dick Bond,

ruary 6, 2009. March 14, 1988.

39 Proposed letter to be sent by CDE to District Superin- 63 Goossen, personal conversation, June 4, 2008.

tendents and Local School Boards, Re: Information on 64 Ibid.

Colorado Home Schoolers Advisory Committee. 65 Ibid.

40 Michelle P. Fulcher, “Legislator works to ease rules 66 Senate Bill 88-56, as introduced.

on home study,” Denver Post, January 2, 1985. 67 Colorado State Archives, legislative audio tapes.
41 Colorado Department of Education, “Approved List 68 Ibid.

of Correspondence Programs for Colorado Home 69 Ibid.

Study Programs,” Revised August 16, 1985. Three addi- 70 John Diaz, “Home teaching wins round,” Denver

tional programs were approved, bringing the total to Post, January 23, 1988.
nine. Christian Liberty Academy was given “qualified 71 Colorado State Archives, legislative audio tapes.

approval” subject to reevaluation at the end of the 72 Denver Post, “‘Home school’ bill dangerous,” Febru-

school year, when it was not re-approved because the ary 10, 1988 (emphasis in the original article).
Academy did not desire to be “under the jurisdiction or 73 Representative Richard Bond, telephone conversation

accreditation of the state of Colorado.” See Dr. Paul D. with author, November 19, 2008.
Lindstrom, Superintendent of Schools, Christian Lib- 74 Berny Morson, “Home-school backers win in com-

erty Academy Satellite Schools, letter to Roy Brubacher, mittee,” Rocky Mountain News, March 9, 1988.
April 16, 1986. 75 Goossen, personal conversation, June 4, 2008.
42 Dr. Mike Bird, telephone conversation with the au- 76 Christopher J. Klicka, Executive Director, Home

thor, February 4, 2009. School Legal Defense Association, letter to Representa-

43 Proposed House Bill, LDO No. 86 0392/1. tive Dick Bond, February 23, 1988.
44 “Home study—or truancy?,” Denver Post, January 5, 77 Testimony before House State Affairs Committee,

1986. Bird, telephone conversation, February 4, 2009. Colorado General Assembly, March 8, 1988. Colorado
45 Goossen, personal conversation, June 4, 2008. State Archives, legislative audio tapes.
46 “Results of C.H.E.A. Questionnaire,” Colorado Home 78 Ibid. Others who implicitly argued before the House

Educators’ Association. State Affairs Committee that education was the respon-
47 Goossen, e-mail message to author, October 21, 2008. sibility of the state were: Lauren Kingsbury, Legal
48 Goossen, personal conversation, June 4, 2008. Kipp, Counsel, Colorado Association of School Boards; and
telephone conversation, February 6, 2009. Dr. Mike Hogan, representing Douglas County School
49 Rory Schneeberger, telephone conversation with au- District and the Colorado Association of School Execu-
thor, December 2, 2008. tives.
50 Goossen, e-mail message, October 21, 2008.

Page 24
79 Testimony before House State Affairs Committee, Copyright ©2008, Independence Institute
March 8, 1988. Colorado State Archives, legislative au-
dio tapes.
80 Ibid.
81 Ibid. profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is
82 Ibid. governed by a statewide board of trustees
83 Morson, “Home-school backers win,” Rocky Mtn
and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the
News, March 9, 1988. IRS. Its public policy research focuses on eco-
84 Representative Dick Bond, “S.B. 56 – Home School-
nomic growth, education reform, local gov-
ing,” Memo to House Colleagues, March 14, 1988.
85 Colorado Homeschooling Network Newsletter, Vol. ernment effectiveness, and Constitutional
V, No. 11, March 1988. rights.
86 Goossen, personal conversation, June 4, 2008.
87 Denver Post, “A better home schooling bill,” March
JON CALDARA is President of the Inde-
17, 1988.
88 Goossen, personal conversation, June 4, 2008.
pendence Institute.
89 Gelner, personal conversation, April 19, 2008.
90 Gelner, e-mail to author, September 29, 2008. DAVID KOPEL is Research Director of the
91 Schneeberger, telephone conversation with author, Independence Institute.
December 2, 2008.
92 Colo. Rev. Stats. § 22-33-104.5(3)(f)).
93 Ibid.
PAMELA BENIGNO is the Director of the
94 Senate Bill 00-186. Education Policy Center.
95 Senate Bill 06-073 and Senate Bill 07-016.
96 Christian Home Educators of Colorado, Year-Round MARYA DEGROW is a Research Associate
Advertising, for the Education Policy Center. She is the
venderad_center/year_round_ad.php author of the Issue Papers Contract Schools
97 “2008-09 NEA Resolutions,” B-80,
Bring Innovative New Choices to Denver Public
/resolutions_document_2008-2009.pdf Schools, Delta County School District Has VI-
98 Dr. Lawrence Rudner, “Scholastic Achievement and SION for School Choice, and Cutting Back on
Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students Catching Up: Reducing the Need for Remediation
in 1998,” Educational Policy Analysis Archives, Vol. 7, in Colorado Higher Education. She also main-
No. 8,
99 Colorado Association of School Boards, Final Resolu-
tains the Web site.
tions, Adopted October 25, 2008, Mrs. DeGrow received her K-12 education through a home-based program. Her teacher
Resolutions.pdf was her mother Mrs. Judy Gelner, a Colo-
100 Rudner, “Scholastic Achievement and Demographic
rado homeschooling pioneer.
Characteristics,” Educational Policy Analysis Archives.


policy can be found at:

Page 25
Colorado's Homeschool Law
Turns Twenty:

The Battle Should Never Be Forgotten

by Marya DeGrow, Research Associate,

13952 Denver West Parkway • Suite 400 • Golden, Colorado 80401-3141
Education Policy Center, Independence Institute • 303-279-6536 • 303-279-4176 fax IP-12-2008 • December 2008