UVA Study Questions Virginia’s Religious Exemption Policy

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a University of Virginia study questions Virginia’s religious exemption option for education. Religious exemptions excuse children from attending public schools if parents feel it impedes on their religious beliefs. Religious exemptions are granted by local school districts, and don’t require parents to homeschool their children or for them to meet any state-mandated education requirements. Critics of the study have pointed out that though as many as 7,000 students do not attend public school under the policy, there is no evidence to suggest that the students go uneducated, and that the religious exemption policy is vital to protecting religious values.

Read the full story here: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/V/VA_RELIGIOUS_EXEMPTIONS_VAOL-?SITE=VARIT&SECTION=STATE&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT


  1. Oh, dear. This isn’t journalism, Flat Hat. Professor Andrew Block’s September 11 report may have flaws, but it does not “reveal” or claim what your headline indicates. In a nutshell: religious exemption, used by a minority of homeschooling families in Virginia, has no reporting requirements. That’s it. A legitimate discussion of the rights and responsibilities of the state versus those of individual citizens is one thing — but parroting the coverage of another publication which in turn did the same is not cool. My homeschooled daughters don’t let the Richmond Times-Dispatch do their homework. I don’t think you should, either. Go (do some research) Tribe. Tia Murchie-Beyma (W&M ’87)

  2. As a graduate of W&M, I am terribly disappointed
    in the quality of the journalism and scholarship displayed here. The headline is
    utterly inaccurate, and reflects either a deliberate distortion or a failure to
    read and/or understand the UVa study in question.

    study does NOT state that “thousands of students go uneducated each year.” It merely
    points out that Virginia statute does not specifically require parents claiming
    a religious exemption from compulsory attendance at public school to document to
    government officials what education they provide to their children. Professor
    Block and his students stated that it is theoretically possible that children
    being homeschooled under the RE are not being adequately educated — not that it
    is a certainty. Notably, the study involved no contact with RE families and
    their children at all.

    -Amelia Vinroot Wilson, ’92

  3. Thank you for the greatly improved reporting! I’m quite impressed with the fact that you revised the story after having received feedback. This is a much more balanced representation. Kudos.


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