History of Homeschooling in Maryland
In the Beginning . . .
In 1984, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), under authority of the General Assembly, officially adopted COMAR 13A.10.01-.05, the state’s homeschool regulation. For the first time, Maryland parents could legally homeschool their children. Soon after, the Maryland Home Education Association was formed. Run by a public school teacher whose children were homeschooled, MHEA provided leadership during the early years of homeschooling in Maryland. By the early 2000s, MHEA became mostly inactive, as its founder focused his efforts on growing his private school.
In 2003, Maryland families were caught by surprise when MSDE was about to implement new homeschooling regulations. Despite being required by law to first meet with interested parties, MSDE’s Board of Education was about to make significant changes without seeking input from homeschool families. Homeschool families successfully rallied and requested that the regulatory process start over again. Ultimately, regulatory changes did take place, including requiring parents to submit an annual verification form and a process requiring notification if a student’s homeschool status changed during a school year.
Maryland Homeschool Association
The events of 2003 inspired one young homeschool mom to begin volunteering countless hours every year, monitoring education legislation and to help fill the void of statewide homeschool leadership. For a decade, Alessa Giampaolo Keener networked with homeschoolers across the state, helping to rally the way to Annapolis to testify on bills that potentially affected the right to homeschool in Maryland.
A few notable highlights from the past few years include:
- 2014: MDHSA launched its own website, believing that all families should be able to access free and accurate information about the rights, responsibilities, and resources relating to homeschooling in Maryland.
- 2015: MDHSA led a statewide grassroots campaign to eliminate language from proposed regulatory changes that would have allowed counties to find homeschool families non-compliant if they refused to provide reviewers with copies of their student’s grades from community college classes.
- 2016: MDHSA was asked to provide input in drafting MSDE’s new Frequently Asked Questions document about homeschooling.
- 2018, part 1: MDHSA led a massive statewide call to action, which enabled MDHSA to negotiate the committee death of a controversial Maryland General Assembly bill. The bill would have allowed government officials the right to enter a homeschool family’s residence – without probable cause – for child welfare checks.
- 2018, part 2: MDHSA was invited as an Interested Party to attend a planning session with MSDE on a proposed regulatory change that would remove “observe instruction” from COMAR.
- 2019: MDHSA held its first-ever fundraiser to help pay for its website redesign.
Rooted in the shared commonalities for the love of our children and our commitment to education – yet celebrating the differences that each family holds dear to their individual households – Maryland Homeschool Association strives to support the needs of Maryland homeschooling families by crowdsourcing volunteers and collaborating with regional support groups.
As an inclusive and secular group, MDHSA respects the vast array of religious and non-religious backgrounds Maryland homeschool families represent. At the same time, we stand firm in our belief that no family or child should be discriminated against based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, marital status, age, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other category of being.
Find out how you can get involved with the Maryland Homeschool Association today!
Last modified on September 13, 2019