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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


In Oklahoma parents of school-aged children are responsible for their children's education and since statehood have had several options available. Parents can send their children to public or private schools or homeschool them. Article 13 of the Oklahoma Constitution required the legislature to establish compulsory attendance "at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided." Enabling legislation was written into the state's first statutes. Subsequently, portions of the original statute have been amended several times to specify the inclusive ages of school children and what fraction of the public school year education must be provided in homeschooling. However, the part specifying the parents' duty to compel their children "to attend and comply with the rules of some public, private or other school, unless other means of education are provided" has remained unchanged.

Oklahoma's first test of the law came in Wright v. State of Oklahoma (1922). The court determined that although the law required no qualifications for teachers and no definite courses of study for homeschooling, it did require the education to be in good faith and equivalent to that afforded by the state. In Sheppard v. State of Oklahoma (1957), the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals ruled that the state had insufficient evidence to convict parents for their alleged failure to provide an education when they refused to send their children to public school. Consequently, any proof of the inadequacy of homeschooling education lies with the public school district in which the family resides.

Whether or not parents could homeschool their child for a portion of the day and send the child to public school for the remainder of the day was addressed in Swanson v. Guthrie Independent School District (1997). The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that parents did not have this choice.

Historically, Oklahoma has ranked high among the fifty states in the percentage of school-age students enrolled in public schools. However, because Oklahoma has no reporting requirement for homeschooling, the state does not know the number of homeschoolers nor the quality of education provided. Furthermore, Oklahoma's Department of Education has no authority to supervise homeschoolers, whereas many states require some supervision.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, Oklahoma statutes required that homeschooling provide an education for children aged five to eighteen that is in good faith and equivalent to that provided by the state for at least 175 days per year.

A. Kenneth Stern


Cafi Cohen, Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook: Preparing 12- to 18-Year-Olds for Success in the College of Their Choice (Roseville, Calif.: Prima Publishing, 2000).

Rebecca Rupp, The Complete Home Learning Source Book: The Essential Resource Guide for Homeschoolers, Parents, and Educators Covering Every Subject from Arithmetic to Zoology (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
A. Kenneth Stern, “Homeschooling,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=HO021.

Published January 15, 2010

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