Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My homeschool soapbox...and why it matters to you

I saw a video of a portion of the hearing on homeschool "registration" that I attended the Capitol building to oppose. And that frankly made me more mad. The truant officer actually said that one of the things he wants to get from the mandatory registration of homeschoolers is to know who they are so he (and his cohorts) can VISIT all of us at our homes to "offer help." He said from the first glance, they would be able to determine IF a homeschool family is actually really homeschooling.

I have many issues with this. I've not been on a homeschool rights soapbox in all of my 8+ years of homeschooling. This is new to me because in all honesty, no one has challenged me to the point where I actually get mad. Sure, I've gotten a ton of questions, mostly from people who are just curious and interested. A handful have actually told me (including family members) that they don't support it, or even more than that, oppose it. Others just don't say anything, and I am fine with that.

One mistake I have made in my homeschooling career has been to "brag" that our state is friendly to homeschoolers. I think I have inadvertently added to the misconception that many people suddenly have in the government that "we don't have to do anything." This isn't true at all. Way back in 1950, a court decision laid the foundation for what homeschoolers are required to do in this state. And for 60 years, that has been good enough. Some of the requirements include: teach in English; be enrolled in a school in the state between the ages of 7-17; and offer a comparable curriculum to those in public school (teach the same sorts of subjects like English, math, science, social studies, health, etc.). If the state has probable cause that they know someone is disobeying the law, the state can take them to court. This plan allows Mr. Truancy Officer to punish in a fair way those who disobey the law.

We've followed the current law that all along. If Mr. Truancy Officer wants to come to my house and use his split-second truth in homeschooling radar, he will find that we really do homeschool. My complaint is not that I will be in trouble.

But all of this leads me to question the role of government in the first place. The bill's sponsor seems to think children who are homeschooled in this state can "fall through the cracks." He thinks that they might be abused in secret, that no one will know if they are. He thinks registering homeschoolers will somehow show the state which children are falling through the cracks and need help. This is bogus on many levels.

Another thought that has got me angry today is--where does this stop? Today it is homeschoolers. Tomorrow the state will be concerned that people who grow their own food are not getting the nutrition they need. Then the state will be concerned that people who choose homeopathic medicine are falling through the medical cracks. Then the state will want everyone to register who is allergic to peanuts. And so on. Just so they can not let anyone (especially children) fall through the cracks. Talk about Big Brother.

As of today, I am following a 60-year-old law concerning how my children are educated. I have done nothing wrong. I honestly have never heard of nor seen with my own eyes a person who said they were homeschooling when they were not. I imagine there could be a handful of those sorts of people in our state. But they are clearly a miniscule number. Why punish 98% of law followers to force them to register with the state and get a visit from the truant officer for the 2% of law breakers? The proposed legislation will not do anything to help children falling through a crack. It will only cost a lot of money to not do what it says it intends, while punishing people who have done nothing illegal.

I've gone to the Capitol. I've signed an opposition to the legislation form. I've emailed my state senator and representative. I've voiced my opinion. I will do whatever it takes to fight for our right to homeschool the way it has been done for 60 years in my state. And I will not only fight for my family, but for yours as well. Even if you don't homeschool, beware. Your preferred method of doing something for your family may be the next issue the government wants to legislate. Do you want to them to come knocking on your door when you have done nothing illegal?

I'm grateful that today I live in a country and state where I can voice my opposing opinion without punishment. I hope that my homeschooled children will be able to voice their well-thought out opinions when they are grown up and raising their own families, too.

5 comments:

  1. I'm chiming in as a public school mom. I can't believe the state is spending their scarce (non-existent!) resources trying to track down what has to be a very small percentage of kids who aren't learning well at home.

    And in the meantime, public school class sizes are getting bigger, extras like music and art are getting cut out, and MANY kids are falling through the cracks! How about these truant officers pop into public school classrooms and make sure time is being well spent and children are learning??

    Even in our GREAT school district (love our neighborhood school) there are days when the boys report on their day, and I think...REALLY???

    At at a time when so many schools are failing to educate children well, why are they picking out homeschools, who statistically, do very well? It doesn't make sense...even to this public school mom!

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  2. Thanks, LM, for your perspective and supportive comments. Much appreciated. :)

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  3. Thank you! I get that comment too often about homeschooling "but how do you know if they are really homeschooled or just kept home?". From well meaning people, not just teachers or officials. It surprises me how little we as a Nation trust parents. Thank you for taking a stand for us all!

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