“Private School” or “Homeschool” — what is the difference?

Texas is a private school state. According to the Leeper decision, homeschools are the equivalent of private schools, and are therefore not regulated by the state in any way.

So, does it matter whether we say we are “homeschooling” or that our children are enrolled in private schools?

Of course, we are teaching our children at home. Most people today are familiar with homeschooling, and when we talk amongst ourselves, we say that we’re homeschooling.

However, because Texas does not have a “homeschool” law, and because the Leeper decision established homeschoolers as private schools, it is important to know the implications of private school vs homeschool.

During the years since Leeper,  there have been numerous challenges to the right of parents to teach their children at home, free from government intervention or oversight. In most cases, the fact that Leeper says homeschoolers are private schools has been the deciding factor. Homeschoolers have repeatedly demanded the right to be treated as other private schools in regards to college entrance, acquiring driver licenses, and more…and they have been successful in their efforts.

Any proposed law in the Texas State Legislature that refers to “homeschool” is a risky proposition. Because there is no definition of “homeschool” in state statutes (or court cases), any law which defines “homeschool” will limit the freedom of parents to decide how their children will be educated at home. As private schools, we have no requirements for annual testing, or for high school graduation, or minimum number of school days, or choice of instructional materials or methods, or anything. A law which is supposed to be good for “homeschoolers,” a class of student which does not officially exist, will nevertheless define homeschoolers and homeschooling, to our detriment, as such laws generally include requirements for such things as annual testing.

On legal issues, we will do better to align ourselves with the other private schools in the state of Texas than try to gain rights as “homeschoolers.”