Smoky Mountain Home Education Association (SMHEA) is a regional chapter of the Tennessee Home Education Association (THEA), a Christian organization that promotes home education in the state of Tennessee. Membership in SMHEA includes membership in THEA and is open to all who are interested in supporting and advancing the cause of home education. THEA was instrumental in getting the initial laws passed that provide us with the freedom to homeschool in the state of Tennessee and continues to advocate for and monitor state and federal laws affecting our freedom to home school.
SMHEA serves an 18 county region that is centered around Knox County and provides connection between THEA at the state level, and support groups, co-ops, umbrella schools, and individual home educators at the local level. Our mission is to encourage families who are considering or engaged in home education by providing information and resources, advocating for home education freedoms, and building connections for support and communication.
The SMHEA region includes Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Fentress, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Pickett, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union counties in Tennessee.
Just over 30 years ago, in the mid 1980’s, families in Tennessee faced fines, arrest, and legal threats for home educating their children. Several families braved the opposition and pursued the freedom to teach their children at home, facing the legal prosecution and providing the spark that caused the Tennessee Compulsory Attendance Law at the time to be brought into question. The story of five of these families can be found on the THEA website , and is one of courage and determination.
THEA was formed in Nashville in January 1984 at the first state-wide home school meeting. Banding together, home educating families from across the state worked and lobbied to change the law. After months of efforts, giving testimony before committees, meeting with individual legislators, appearing in Nashville at legislative sessions, and much prayer, revisions to the law made their way through the system. In May 1985 the law was signed that made home schooling clearly legal in Tennessee.
We can now home educate without the immediate threat of prosecution as these early home educating families faced. While we have enjoyed this freedom for several years, we cannot take these rights for granted. Opposition to home education continues from several different sources. Every year legislation is introduced that would have impacts, positive and negative, on home education in our state. These rights have been hard fought for by those who have gone before us, but they could disappear in a single legislative session if we are not vigilant and active. Your participation in SMHEA and THEA adds your voice to the chorus of voices of families who stand together to protect home education freedoms in Tennessee.
SMHEA provides the regional connection between state-wide activities and legislative advocacy with THEA, and local groups and individual families to help support your home education efforts. The SMHEA Community Portal is an avenue for communication and accessing helpful advice and information as well as meeting local home educating families to exchange ideas and experience. Our mailing list alerts you to legislative action that could affect your homeschooling freedom and lets you know about other enrichment opportunities that might be of interest.