State governments are facing fiscal emergencies with declining revenues and widening budget deficits. Now is a good time for policymakers to appreciate the growing homeschooling movement.

Across the country, 1.5 million children are currently being educated at home. Just how much would it cost taxpayers if these students enrolled in their “free” public school? We conservatively estimate the cost to be between $4 and $10 billion annually. These savings will mount as the number of families choosing to teach their children at home grows.

But instead of these families, policymakers in some states are instead trying to place new regulatory burdens on homeschooling parents. Brandon Dutcher of the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, a homeschooling father, writes An open letter to state Sen. Mary Easley reminding her why taxpayers should be thanking homeschoolers.

I wanted to point out something that might be of interest to you as you grapple with the huge budget shortfall at the state capitol this year. I was doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation the other day and determined that my wife and I have saved our fellow taxpayers more than $200,000 (so far) by educating our own children at home rather than asking taxpayers to foot the bill.

As states struggle to navigate their budgetary challenges, guaranteeing that families have the freedom to homeschool will ensure taxpayers continue to benefit from these vital savings.