go to Virginia. That would be the short answer.
For more background keep reading.
My son Gabe decided this summer that he wants to attend a local welding school. Mr. Pete checked it out and gave him his blessing. Our thought was that at least he will be able to make a good wage with a skill that is always in demand, and if he wants to go back to school in the future, he will not have a problem paying for it.
But the school requires a high school diploma OR a GED.
Interestingly, some people have said to me, "Just give him the diploma - he's homeschooled after all!" I take a bit of offense at that. Sam worked very hard for his diploma and we followed the Ohio Department of Education Guidelines very closely. Sam was even able to pass CLEP Exams in College Math, Biology and American History! Just "giving" Gabe a diploma would sort of cheapen Sam's diploma in my mind. It also would take some of the incentive away from Noah, who is working very hard in his homeschool work, and Izzy, as well as Rosie who is also coming down the track. If a high school diploma from my homeschool is to mean something, it can't just be given away. And Gabe hasn't done the work for it.
But he has done enough work that I think a GED might be a reasonable compromise, so I started checking into it.
I first discovered that in the state of Ohio, you have to be 19 years old. Not 18. I can only guess that this is some attempt by the state to keep kids in school and keep the state money flowing into the district.
But there did seem to be some leeway. If the superintendent of schools in my district signed the waiver form, Gabe could still take the GED here.
Long time readers might remember I have had some dealings with the superintendent's office and the board of education. Every year I have to send them my notifications to homeschool. I also had to go to the board of education to get my oldest son a work permit when he was 16. And then there was the issue about 10 years ago with getting them to allow my oldest son to swim on the swimming team.
So I didn't think it would be hard to get them to sign the waiver. And I was wrong. The lady in the superintendent's office told me that they could not "legally" sign the waiver because my son was homeschooled. When I pointed out that "homeschooled" was one of the reasons on the form for the waiver, she told me she couldn't help and they wouldn't sign.
So then I called the Ohio Department of Education and was told that when I signed up to homeschool, I agreed to something or other that meant I agreed to this. I quickly informed this young man that I never "signed up" to homeschool but rather notified my superintendent every single year and got the proper paper work in. At that point his voice rose and so did mine. I am too old and too experienced to be bullied by bureaucrats any more.
I thought about calling HSLDA or somehow fighting this, but since House Bill 59 just passed in our state and my other son has a chance to participate on a regular sports team as a home schooler this year, I decided not to rock the boat.
So I started looking at neighboring states. Here are the minimum ages (without strings attached) in neighboring states.
New York 19
West Virginia 19
So of all these states only Michigan, Pennsylvania or Virginia would allow Gabe to take the test at age 18, but Michigan and Pennsylvania have residency requirements - and Virginia does not. Interestingly, Ohio does not have a residency requirement but you have to be 19 so I'm not sure who would want to take advantage of it unless you had just recently moved to the state and want to take the GED.
So I went to the Virginia GED site, closed my eyes and picked a county and talked to a lovely woman named Cheryl in Roanoke City. She helped me figure out which county would be the best (closest) for Gabe to take the test and that got me hooked up with another nice lady named Ann in Fairfax County. Ann not only said she would help me with the test, but also sent me links for wonderful resources to prepare for the test.
So let's compare:
Ohio age 19
Virginia age 18
Ohio, discriminating against us because we homeschool.
Virginia telling me that some of their most successful testers have been homeschooled!
Ohio Bureaucrat screaming at me on the phone and telling me untruths about the homeschool laws in my state.
Virginia- sending me helpful resources!
Well I think it's pretty clear which state seems to really care about putting kids and families first and although Ohio is making progress, it still has a ways to go. We will be helping Gabe to pursue the GED exam in Virginia!