Wyoming expands definition of homeschooling, promotes ‘richer’ education

Wyoming passed a new law last week that expands the definition of homeschooling to include groups of families.

HB 70, which had 30 Republican co-sponsors, removed a provision in current law stipulating that a program of more than one family “does not constitute a home-based educational program.”

Now, such a program is simply defined as “a home-based educational program provided to a child by the child’s parent or legal guardian or by a person designated by the parent or legal guardian.”

This redefinition expands possibilities for homeschool families to form co-ops or otherwise collaborate without losing homeschool protections.

Homeschooling restrictions and requirements vary greatly between states, but Wyoming’s are comparatively loose. Parents must educate their children between the ages of 7 to 16 on state-mandated subjects but are not beholden to teacher qualifications or assessment requirements, according to the Tribune.

“This is an important, common-sense law for families who choose to homeschool their children,” said House Majority Floor Leader Chip Neiman. “Homeschooled children will benefit greatly from the broader involvement this new law allows.

“This measure will lead to a richer experience for home-schooled students and provide more tools to advance their education.”

The Wyoming homeschool population increased approximately 44% between 2018 and 2020 and then another 50% during the 2020-2021 school year, even though most public school districts offered in-person instruction, reported the Casper Star Tribune.

Another bill on the Wyoming Legislature’s docket is SF 143, which would create school choice accounts for all K-12 students, including homeschoolers.

“All children in Wyoming should have access to the highest-quality education possible,” said Gov. Mark Gordon in his recent School Choice Week proclamation. “Educational variety not only helps to diversify our economy, but also enhances the vibrancy of our community.”

SF 143 has passed the Senate and will next be considered by the House. Meanwhile, HB 70 will go into effect on July 1, 2023.