Thursday, May 20, 2010

Parents of America on the Freedom Road

This week I visited a blog and read about the latest trends in homeschool. Some of the items were interesting and true. As a homeschool advocate and group leader, I’ve noticed a lot more fathers doing the majority of the teaching. I admire them greatly, especially when they get involved in the homeschool group. It can’t be easy hanging around mom’s all day. We like to compare notes on baby food and YA novels; baseball and cars, not so much. Sorry guys, but, hey, we’d love to learn more about those things.

One of the trends mentioned in this article was alarming on a number of levels. It says that state laws are changing and some states are requiring homeschooling parents to have college degrees. If that doesn’t beat all, was my first reaction. That just sort of fried me. I don’t think that’s true since it’s becoming much easier to homeschool these days, even in states that have been hostile.

But true or not, the mere mention of it is enough to intimidate some families. So let me address that right now.

You do not need a college degree to educate your children. The only requirement is that you are their parent.

If your school district requires that, please contact Home School Legal Defense Association Homeschool is a right protected by the Constitution. The only thing you need to teach your children is to be their mom or dad. The government cannot tell you what to teach or how to teach. They are allowed to ascertain that you are in fact teaching them in some states, but that’s as far as it goes.

People who are not familiar with freedom will immediately say things like “Don’t you need someone watching you?” or “How will anyone know if you’re doing your job?” which really means “How will anyone know you aren’t lying?” Someone is bound to say “Sure that’s great but aren’t you ruining their future?” My personal favorite is “How will you keep up with the public school?” My children’s test scores average 3 - 5 grades above their grade level. That didn’t happen until I got them home. Someone will then ask, “Well, do you do your own testing?” implying I cheat. You can’t intelligently converse with someone who is trying to control you, it’s impossible.

Freedom is a difficult concept for some people to grasp, I’m not sure many people really know what it is because they are still operating under the delusion that they have to answer to the principal at age 30, 40, and beyond, and that you should as well.

We don’t want to believe that we can be adults, it seems. Somehow we can trust our neighbors to get a job, pay their taxes, buy a car, select a mate and feed and clothe the children, but God forbid they don’t send their kids to school, they must be up to something, be one of those radical Christians or an isolationist. That article referenced on the blog said that in the 1990’s public perception of homeschoolers was just that, conservative Christians and isolationists. I was homeschooling then. That was not public perception then. The phrasing of that language is outrageous.

The government schools don't like people homeschooling. One time my local school district told me I couldn’t promote my students to the next grade without their permission. I politely told them they were not within their legal rights and asked my lawyer to give them a call. Once they told me I had to adhere to the hours of teaching per subject they outlined for their schools. I laughed; I was in their schools and there was no way they devoted that kind of time per subject. I politely told them I wasn’t on their payroll. I believe some of them are well meaning, it’s just people sometimes think the state schools and/or it’s private sector is an educational authority and are genuinely shocked that everyone does not carry their flag.

Another time they told me my daughter had to be enrolled in their school but she could study at home. That was rather insidious as they received 7K – 10K in federal funding for her to be in their school but I never saw a dime of it as her teacher. And they could fill her physical seat with another child and receive another 7K – 10K for that child. Again, I referred them to my lawyers.

Bottom line, if the state and private schools were wonderful, we wouldn’t have an estimated 2 million children in homeschool and that figure is from 2002, eight years old at this point. Granted they can’t count us all now, we’re growing too fast.

Before I removed my child from public school, I was given an incredible amount of intimidation, disrespect and false information by bureaucrats posing as educators. It’s sad really, they didn’t want to lose their federal funding for my daughter, nor did they want to lose her test scores which collapsed their overall test percentages at that particular grade school in Boston. It’s sad they didn’t want to lose her for who she is, not the numbers and funding she represented. They should have thought about that before discussing R rated movies with 9 year olds jeopardizing their emotional well being, some states constitute that as child abuse. It’s hideous what goes on in some of those Union-ized classrooms.

If you choose to homeschool, for whatever reason, be it your faith, a desire to protect your children from negative socialization, or just because you want to, there’s a lot of free info and assistance for you; email me with 'homeschool help' in the subject line, I’ve been doing this for well over 12 years. I’ll tell you my secret, I was homeschooling my daughter while she was in public school because the curriculum they had was inadequate. I had to teach her to read. Homeschooling was a no brainer as I’d been doing it already from K – 4 as it was. My daughter is in grad school now, working full time and running a business. She was welcomed by her college with open arms and no GED with my transcripts six years ago.

By the way, colleges should not be asking homeschool children for GED’s. Homeschool transcripts are legal and binding. In fact, if a college/university asks your child to get a GED, cross them off your list; that institution is exhibiting prejudice and ignorance. Put your hard-earned money in college that really wants them.

If you need a lawyer, membership in HSLDA is around $100. per year, legal services are free to members. If you can’t afford it, help is available.

Parents of America, get out from behind the eight ball. There’s a lot of open road on this Freedom stretch. I’d love some company.

Photo of Erica McGrath May 2009: credit Paul McGrath

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