Archive for March, 2013

VaHomeschoolers Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Friday, March 29th, 2013

In March, the organization of VA Homeschoolers celebrated their 20th anniversary.

Paige Baxter and Allison Landry
Capital News Service

GLEN ALLEN – Interested and anxious parents and rambunctious and excited students packed the Cultural Arts Center last weekend to share a common interest: home schooling.

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers celebrated its 20th anniversary while providing introductory information for interested attendees and a new perspective for home-schooling parents and students.

There are many reasons parents may choose to educate their child at home. They include:

  • The ability to cater to individual interests
  • Flexibility
  • Issues with the public school system

More and more parents in Virginia are opting to home-school their children. The number of home-schoolers statewide (including those with religious exemptions) has risen from about 22,000 in 2002 to more than 32,000 last year. They represent about 2.5 percent of all school-age children in Virginia.

Home schooling can be daunting at first because it requires parents to shoulder a lot of responsibility, said Stephanie Elms, a board member of the organization, which goes by VaHomeschoolers.

She said the conference helps ease parents into home schooling. “It’s very reassuring to know that the people around you don’t think you’re crazy for making this choice.”

Elms held several introductory sessions throughout the conference. On Saturday, she addressed the legal concerns and paperwork requirements involved in beginning a home-schooling program. Despite what many people believe, meeting legal standards to begin homeschooling isn’t a tedious process, Elms said.

To begin home schooling, all parents must do is submit a letter, known as an “intent of notice,” to the superintendent of their school district. Then the parents have the right to remove their children from public school.

“Regardless of your child’s age or how you choose to file your paperwork, you can educate your child at any grade level or levels you choose, and you may use any curriculum you want,” Elms said.

Virginia’s homeschooling laws require parents to meet three requirements. They must:

  • File an intent of notice annually with the local school division
  • Test or evaluate the child annually
  • If requested, provide proof of immunization

Elms said help is available in meeting these requirements. The VaHomeschoolers website provides assistance.

Among the vendors at the fair were not only home educators and VaHomeschoolers members but also authors and home-schooling program representatives.

Kay Anderson, an author and special education teacher in Gates County, N. C., presented her recently published book, “Self-Examination of Biblical Obedience, the ABCs of Understanding Scripture.” Although Anderson was not a home educator herself, she said she sees a “lack of ethics” in the public schools

“Knowing what I know now, having raised my children in public schools and then having taught in public school, I would have home-schooled all the way,” Anderson said. “I know the truth of what happens when kids are corrupted by their peers. We’re too blended now.”


On the Web

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers has posted “A Comprehensive Guide to Homeschooling in Virginia” at

You also can see has Virginia compares with other states on home-schooling laws at

Governor Signs Law Targeting Synthetic Drugs

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

By Kristen Smith
Capital News Service


RICHMOND – Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed into law legislation to expand the list of prohibited chemicals used in making synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs.

McDonnell announced Wednesday that he had signed House Bill 1941, which included an emergency clause making it effective immediately.

In a statement, the governor said the new law “continues Virginia’s commitment to combating the spread of illegal drugs in the commonwealth and preserving the safety of our schools and neighborhoods and builds on legislative efforts earlier in my administration to combat drugs and punish drug dealers.” (more…)

New Law Will Help Kids Learn to Read

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

By Destiny Brandon
Capital News Service


RICHMOND – Virginia schools must provide extra help to students in kindergarten and first and second grades who do poorly on diagnostic reading tests, under legislation that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law in recent weeks.

Schools already must offer reading intervention services to third-graders who demonstrate deficiencies on the state’s Standards of Learning reading test or other diagnostic measures. The new law, effective July 1, will add kindergarten and grades one and two to that requirement.

That is the result of McDonnell’s signing of two identical proposals that were passed overwhelmingly by the General Assembly during its recent session: House Bill 2068, sponsored by Delegate Jim LeMunyon, R-Oak Hill, and Senate Bill 1171, introduced by Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake.


Tourist Train May Roll in Tazewell

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

By Destiny Brandon
Capital News Service


RICHMOND – A tourist train soon could be chugging its way through historic and scenic Tazewell County and across the state line to Bramwell, W.Va.

During its recently concluded session, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to create a Tourist Train Development Authority to pursue the project.

The nine-member authority would have representatives from the governing bodies of Tazewell County and the towns of Bluefield and Pocahontas; four Tazewell County citizens; and two legislators.