Friday, June 10, 2011

You'll Ruin it for the Rest of Us

I live in a state that has fairly stringent homeschool regulations - or so I've been told.  I've never lived in another state and have always followed our regulations, so I don't know any other way and, therefore, do not feel over-burdened by what I have to do.

To give you a better idea of what our state requires, here is the list:
Letter of intent turned in by July 1
Individualized Home Instruction Plan for each child due August 15.  On this form is the child's name, age, grade, teacher (me!), each subject to be covered, what books I am using along with the name of the publisher and copyright date, and a list of what will be covered during the year in that particular subject.
Quarterly reports - hours covered each quarter, what percentage of the work was done that quarter, and a letter grade
Evaluations - K-4 grade - I write how each child is doing in each subject, where they're struggling, how they're excelling, and if I recommend them for advancement to the next grade.  5-8th grade - children are required to take standardized testing every other year (my children do every year).  9th-12th grade - testing takes place every year.  We hand in the results of these tests with our last quarter reports.

Yes, these things take quite a bit of my time.  Yes, I get nervous during test-time.  Yes, I would love to live somewhere where I could be making sure my children were doing their best for their own benefit without the stress of making sure I was pleasing the school district.

However, some accountability is not bad.  Where there is freedom, there is responsibility.  This country allows us the freedom to educate our children at home and, no matter where we live, we are blessed.  I know that there are families who do not follow the requirements of our state.  Whatever their reasons, it all boils down to one thing:  they are breaking the law.  They are not honoring the government that God has put over them.  The government is not asking us to commit heresy or renounce Christ.  They're asking for paperwork.  Some parents don't see any reason for this and rebel against the system.  If I were a wagering person, I'd wager that these same parents would be appalled if their children disobeyed them just because they didn't see the reason for the rules given them.  I also  believe that these are the parents that would shout the loudest if suddenly our homeschool freedoms were taken away - all because people didn't follow the rules.

If we want our regulations to be lifted, there is a process that is to be followed.  I am sure there are homeschool advocates in our state's capital working on this.  Personally, I am too busy to worry about it. I have HSLDA to help out when the school system oversteps their bounds and, for that, I am grateful.  But, even HSLDA will recommend that you follow what regulations are in place in order for things to run more smoothly when you come up against REAL issues, such as CPS, unnecessary paperwork, etc.

Last year, I spoke directly with the woman who reviewed all the homeschool paperwork in our district (she has since retired).  She didn't have two heads nor did she breathe fire.  She was a very pleasant woman.  She instantly recognized my name and said I was among the best homeschoolers in our district - not because of my children's progress, but all because I turn in the required work on time.  She confirmed that the school system is not out to get homeschoolers.  They have to obey the state laws just like anyone else.  It is their job to collect the information and make sure that parents aren't abusing their freedom by neglecting their child's education.  She didn't seem to agree that the State should have that role, but it didn't matter.  This was her job.  She confirmed that she doesn't go through my IHIPs, reports, and test grades with a fine-tooth comb.  She just makes sure that the requirements are fulfilled and then the papers get filed away.  If I ever come up against a problem for which I need HSLDA, they'll be able to prove that I've done everything I've been required and that will give me a lot of leverage.

What are you doing?  If you are following the requirements, good for you!  Keep up the good work and stay diligent.  If you are a parent that has decided to rebel, please reconsider. You will ruin it for the rest of us.  The future of homeschooling is at risk not because of the rules already set in place but because of those who have decided to disregard them.

1 comment:

Ted Snyder said...

Very well stated! I never really had a problem with the regulations, just do it and get it over with so you can get on with teaching your children. You are correct, what are you teaching your children? They listen and watch all that we do and then do it. We are not asked to get a licence, but rather a letter of intent so they know the child is getting educated. How would some of the same parents like to be in NZ where up to 4 times a year an official COULD come in and sit through your day and watch you teach??? -Dawn