The Washington Post

‘Tis true: Kids don’t have to go to school in Virginia

Here’s a unique peculiarity to the great state of Virginia: Kids don’t really have to go school.

The state has a compulsory education law requiring children ages 5 to 18 to attend school, with some pretty standard exceptions, such as health reasons. But one exception can be found only in Virginia: religious opposition to going to school, as explained in this story by my colleague Susan Svrluga .

And that doesn’t mean religious opposition to attending public school, but any school. They don’t even have to prove they are being home-schooled, which is an avenue that other states give to parents who don’t want to send their children to public school.

Here’s the wording in the Virginia statute:

1. Any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school. For purposes of this subdivision, "bona fide religious training or belief" does not include essentially political, sociological or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code;

How many kids have opted out under this rule?

Nearly 7,000 children — a jump of more than 50 percent from 2000-01. Last year alone, the families of 6,800 children requested and were granted a religious exemption in the state.

All families have to do is petition their school district, which virtually never says no, according to the story.

Read the whole thing here.

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Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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