Just out of curiosity, what's to stop you from just making up everything you have to report, and if there's nothing to stop you from fabricating it, what's the point (if you buy into the argument that the State must check to make sure you're actually educating your own kids in the first place)?
. . . they [the State Board of Education] have no money or personnel to enforce the rule. That's a good thing, but I feel just a bit the coward when I comply anyway. It's none of their 'beeswax' . . . .
Adam has a point. There really is nothing to stop me from making up the information we send in to the state, excepting our original Declaration of Intent to Homeschool (DOI). Then I suppose it would be fairly easy for a state official to verify that the name of the parent matches our address, and possibly verify that the name(s) of the child(ren) match tax records. But as far as I know, it's not a common practice, to verify the information on the form. It probably does happen here and there--wouldn't surprise me.
As for our monthly "attendance" forms, this part of the law is really kind of silly. State 'yay' or 'nay' on a particular date as to whether your kid attended homeschool. At the end of the calendar year, the 'yays' need to equal 180. There is nobody looking over your shoulder to ensure that you are "doing" school. (And I'd like to keep it that way.)
Part of the reason for this, I think, is twofold. First, there is nothing in the law that stipulates exactly what constitutes Official School--which is the beauty of homeschooling. If you want to spend the day at the zoo and call it a field trip, then you can. If you want to have your kids sit at a desk and do worksheets and call it school, then you can do that, too.
The second reason is that Georgia, like every other state in the union (to my knowledge), compels attendance in school, but does not compel education. An important distinction, because if education were actually mandatory, the state itself would have lots of 'splainin' to do.
Now if the law is kind of silly, then why am I going to comply? Well, that speaks to what Elisheva wrote. Why am I going to comply with this nuisance paperwork? Why do I plan to comply with the testing requirements, which don't kick in until 3rd grade, even though I don't need to report the test results to anyone in the state? After all my noise about the American Community Survey, why am I going to follow these rules, when, as you must know if you read my blog regularly, I don't recognize them as legitimate functions of the government and which ideally should be repealed entirely?
Well, I comply with a whole bunch of laws that I don't agree with or recognize as legitimate--taxes, for example. The consequences for not doing so are too high. However, I do always try to comply on my own terms as much as possible. To take the tax example, because we are self-employed, we don't have taxes withheld on a regular basis. We don't pay ahead of time like I think we're supposed to do. Basically, we settle up at tax time and write the governments their checks then. It's ugly, but at least they don't get to use our money all year long and they don't get more of our money than (they say) they are due, to use interest-free until the refund check is cut.
So I'm going to comply with the homeschooling laws--again, on my own terms, as much as possible. Although I really considered not complying, and know of many families who prefer to fly under the radar. Unlike the American Community Survey though, there are actual consequences to non-compliance, and I'm not willing to risk those consequences. There is a difference, I think, in blindly following a law since "It's the LAW" and carefully weighing out the risks and benefits of compliance and making your decision accordingly, even if you do end up complying. So that's what we've done here.
"On my own terms" applies to the monthly attendance forms. Ryan seems to learn something just about every day of the week, and I'm not about to try to account for each moment of "education" simply to mark my kid as "present" on a form. So I'm filling all of the forms out ahead of time for the whole year and will send them in monthly as they are due. The way the law is written allows me to do that. More efficient use of my time anyway.
Also, I have recently joined the Board for one of our statewide homeschooling organizations, HEIR. One of HEIR's primary functions is to monitor our state legislators, to prevent them from "helping" us homeschoolers by passing more laws (and most times, the proposed laws are actually well-intended, even though they are fraught with dire consequences). I'm getting involved in HEIR now because I want to ensure that the level of homeschooling freedom I enjoy in Georgia does not shrink. Anything the legislators do now will most certainly impact my life. So I'm joining up, and for that reason, I think I should be in compliance. And joining the Board allows me to work for changes toward more freedom--I can advocate for the end of the attendance forms, for example--and in this way effect changes in a law that I dislike quite a bit.
Also, also--truancy. There haven't been too many truancy crackdowns (in my county at least), but our governor (Oh-He-Of-The-Rain-Dance) has made truancy a priority for his
Wow--I've been working on this post for a couple of days now, so I think I'll stop for now. Interesting to think about though.