Nebraska has never passed a homeschool law; instead, homeschoolers in the state homeschool under the state’s private school law. Through the early 1980s, Nebraska required private, denominational, and parochial schools to have state accreditation and approval, which included a requirement that all teachers be certified. Yet it was not homeschoolers who first challenged this requirement, it was the Christian school movement, which grew rapidly in the 1970s and early 1980s.
While Christian schools could in theory have complied with state requirements and gained accreditation and approval, many of those who founded Christian schools were adamantly opposed to any form of government control or authority. Reverend Everett Sileven and a number of his parishioners were in and out of jail over this issue several times, and ultimately spent a total of three months in jail. Finally, tired of the negative publicity, the State Department of Education announced that parents with religious objections to state educational standards could send their children to private schools that did not meet state accreditation and approval provided the children were educated in the equivalent branches of learning and subject to periodic testing and visitation.
Early homeschoolers in Nebraska quickly followed Christian schools in operating as private schools exempt from state accreditation and approval. In 1987, Nebraska home schoolers defeated L.B. 682, which would have repealed the religious exemption provision and restored the teacher certification requirement. Also in 1987, Attorney General Robert Spire ruled that the state’s testing and visitation requirements must be uniform across all exempt private schools, and that they could not be arranged in the absence of parental consent. Given these constraints, the State Board of Education does not currently require testing or home visits for homeschoolers.
For more state histories, see Histories of Homeschooling.
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