Exciting news from Linda Dobson, an HEM columnist, author of many books on homeschooling, and founder of the website, Parent at the Helm:
“I became aware of Prime Minister – and Education Minister – Holness’ decision to homeschool last week when a friend in Jamaica contacted me. She let me know she had loaned Prime Minister Holness one of my books. She said he still hasn’t returned it yet, kindly insinuating that maybe the book (and hers!) had something to do with the minister’s announcement.
“We get only one fleeting childhood, and you can make it count for your children. Cherish each heartwarming experience as your children’s eyes light up with their “aha!” moments, and their questions fill your days with curiosity and wonder.”
Click this link to read Linda’s wonderful open letter to the prime minister and Mrs Holness.
The venerable New York Times Magazine published an article on November 8, 2011 titled My Parents Were Home-Schooling Anarchists, by Margaret Heidenry:
“Tired of the constraints of the 40-hour workweek, my father, in 1972, quit his job in publishing. My parents were in their early 30s, and they had four children under 7. ‘But we still wanted to explore the world,’ my father recalled recently. They bought six one-way tickets to Europe, leaving only a laughable $3,000 to subsist on. Young and idealistic, they thought they could easily educate us along the way. ‘Life itself would become a portable classroom.’”
Margaret explains how for the next four years they “embarked on an uncharted ‘free-form existence,’ traveling through Spain, England, a Midwestern farm, Mexico, and finally settled in St. Louis. She details how her parents stretched their budget to allow for the far-flung classrooms, and writes of the family adventure, “…my parents were consistently inconsistent. There were a few interludes of standardized education, but for the most part, as my mother would later write in this magazine, ‘during all this time, the children traveled with us and received nothing that remotely resembled formal schooling.’”
“Home Is Where the School Is,” published in the Oct. 19, 1975, issue of The New York Times Magazine, was the first article in a national publication to espouse what was then still a fringe educational choice.
Read Margaret Heidenry’s entire article at the link above.
After just a few months of college – in which he enrolled after spending his middle and high school years unschooling – Dale J. Stephens, 19, left school. Based on his conviction that college is not necessary for success and fulfillment, he founded an organization called UnCollege, which promotes ways that young people can “hack their education” by finding individualized paths to self-directed learning. A Thiel fellowship recipient, he is currently writing a book for Penguin called Hacking Your Education and traveling extensively on speaking engagements.
In a guest post for The New York Times, Mr. Stephens explains his belief that any student at any level, even those in traditional education environments, can take charge of their learning:
“Why did I make trouble? Going along with the program seems pretty sweet. I could have written papers, skipped class and partied until dawn. After four years as a college student, I would have had many friends, a good job and letters after my name. But I left college because I realized I couldn’t rely on a university to give me an education.”
Read the entire article at the link above.
Too Cool For Homeschool? (Here’s what you didn’t know), by Melanie O’Brien, shares the activities of families involved with the Baltimore Homeschool Community Center, described as “…bright and friendly, full of laughing kids and smiling adults.” The member-based organization serves homeschooling families throughout the Baltimore area. O’Brien writes:
“But wait a second. Why are homeschoolers away from home, in a center taking classes? If you’re like me (and statistics suggest you probably are), then your state-mandated K-12 education happened in a public or private school. But for about 2.4 percent of Maryland’s school-aged kids, education happens somewhere else.”
The article is long, interesting, fair and balanced, and the final paragraph, while startling and unusual for an article about homeschooling, leaves true homeschoolers with a knowing smile. Recommended reading, for sure.
On Wednesday, Nov. 9th, at 9:00 a.m. PST, Homeschooling will be the topic of a program on KUOW-FM radio, 94.9, a National Public Radio affiliate station in Seattle, Washington, a service of the University of Washington, and a top-ranked radio station in the Seattle/Tacoma area.
Host Steve Scher will discuss homeschooling with several guests. The program notes detail the direction the questions will take:
“Homeschooling has soared in the United States in recent years, climbing from 850,000 home–schooled kids in 1999 to 1.5 million in 2007. That’s an increase of 74 percent. What government oversight is in place for parents who choose to keep their kids at home? What oversight should there be? What are the drawbacks and benefits of homeschooling? If you’re considering homeschooling, this show will inform your decision. Were you homeschooled? What was it like? Share your experience by calling 1.800.289.KUOW (5869).”
Tera Schreiber is a non–practicing lawyer, former nonprofit executive director, and current freelance writer and home–schooling mother. She has three daughters who are nine, seven and four. She’s been homeschooling for five years.
Erica Forrest homeschools her children.
Jen Garrison Stuber is a board member for the Washington Homeschool Organization.
Rob Reich is an associate professor of political science at Stanford University.
Brian Ray is the founder and president of the National Home Education Research Institute.
The New York Times put most homeschoolers into an undesirable, non-bid for fame. We’ve been profiled as a special interest group wanting something (money) from these “new Republicans.” I don’t know about many other homeschoolers, but I’d rather step out of this particular limelight of perceived hands held out. As an Illinois homeschooler, my husband and I have known we could use the Illinois Education Tax Credit for some years, but decided it wasn’t worth it for various reasons. We learned some time ago that our freedom is worth more than money.
In the NY Times’s Room for Debate, Susan Neuman, professor in educational studies and assistant secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration had an interesting point of view. She started out with the notion that ‘conservatives’ are trying to destroy public education with homeschool tax credits.
I’d say that ‘conservatives’ like Chester Finn are trying to destroy homeschooling with his love of standardized tests. His thumbs up for homeschool tax credits came with the notion that “if they don’t pass those tests, either the subsidy vanishes or the kids must enroll in some sort of school with a decent academic track record.” As if those tests are a good synopsis of what children learn. As if enrolling kids who don’t do well on tests is reason to be in a school. We could turn that around to say that some public school students shouldn’t be in school because those tests look very bad for them. Most good teachers agree that teaching to standardized tests doesn’t help learning, even if their union insists on testing for homeschoolers. From the edu-industry end, Mr. Finn was invested as a Director of K12, Inc. until July of 2007 and is still a member of the Education Advisory Committee. Not surprisingly, Finn was promoting the virtual schools heavily in this non-reality based comparison of homeschooling and virtual schools: “From a policy perspective, however, there’s not much difference between teaching kids at home and enrolling them in any of hundreds of “virtual charter schools” or district- or state-run alternatives”.” His K12 company is lobbying hard in Illinois for more business than just the Chicago Virtual School. I wouldn’t want him speaking on behalf of the homeschooling community because dollar signs keep distorting his view. In The Educated Child, a book he co-authored with William Bennett, they stated that “homeschoolers should not have to do so [homeschool] because there are no good schools available”. What they don’t seem to understand is the homeschooling lifestyle enables the family to enjoy each other and their education and isn’t necessarily because of an indictment of schools. Families homeschool in communities with the best school districts too.
Rob Reich – notorious for his anti-homeschool freedom attitudes – sounds almost excited about federal tax credits. His piece is similar to Finn’s, except he wants homeschool registration, where Chester Finn likes the testing notion. I think Reich’s piece was the tamest of any of his previous articles demanding homeschoolers answer to the government. There’s cause for alarm. Reich senses promise in registering all homeschooled children with the use of tax credits.
Want a tax credit to home school? Accept a requirement to register your child as being home schooled and that the child take the same state tests as other public school students. Federal dollars come with strings attached, and these particular strings are in the best interests of children, anyway.
Luis Huerta of Columbia University had a piece with many similar points to a Daily Beast article.
The current efforts consist of a two-prong approach that involve resurrecting recently proposed legislation: First, the Family Education Freedom Act of 2009, sponsored and repeatedly introduced by Representative Ron Paul of Texas has proposed a tax credit of up to $5,000 for private school tuition and home schooling expenses. Second, the Parental Rights Amendment of 2009 sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and written by Michael Farris, the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, would protect “the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children” as a fundamental right.
But I think his point below shows the HSLDA sponsored contradiction in promoting a Parental Rights Amendment, while chancing federal regulations of homeschooling with tax credits. I also don’t like the Parental Rights Amendment because we don’t need our rights enumerated. We already have them.
Dana Goldstein from The Beast says in her article How the Tea Party Will Destroy Education Reform that:
The organization [HSLDA] has powerful supporters—both veteran legislators and newcomers. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the caucus’ vice-chairwoman, support homeschool tax credits. John Kline, the incoming House Education Committee chairman, was the keynote speaker at last spring’s Home School Legal Defense Association conference, where he said he would work to “charge up Capitol Hill with the message of homeschool freedom.”
I’m all about a message of homeschool freedom, but we generally keep it to ourselves, unless ironically enough, legislators or school authorities start getting in our way.
Here’s some more “new Republican” names laid out from the Beast that want to ‘help’.
“Rubio and Paul ran for Senate supporting tax credits for homeschoolers, though they also describe themselves as deficit hawks committed to balancing the federal budget. Paul has been an especially vocal advocate for homeschooling, often speaking publicly about the prominent role homeschooling volunteers played in his Kentucky campaign. He spoke on June 25 to the Christian Homeschool Educators of Kentucky, whose mission is to “protect children from mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by secular humanists in a socialist society or governmental system.” On his campaign website, Paul’s staff regularly promoted homeschooling as an alternative to failing public schools, citing high academic achievement scores among homeschooled children (who also tend to come from more affluent families than their public school counterparts.)”
The sentiment is right: Home schooling parents shouldn’t have to pay for schools they don’t use then pay again for education they do. But good intentions neither make a law constitutional, nor necessarily sound. Proof of home schooling could be defined as passing federally prescribed tests – just the sort of mandate many home schoolers despise. In Article I, Section 8, the Constitution gives the federal government specific powers, and the feds may do nothing beyond them. Included among them is nothing about education, so Washington may make no education policy. And no, the taxing power does not allow Washington to do whatever it wants as long as it is connected to taxes. Taxation may only be used in service of the enumerated powers.
McCluskey finishes with this thought:
Home schoolers deserve some breaks. At the national level, that means adhering to the Constitution and getting the federal government out of education, which would benefit not just home schoolers, but all taxpayers.
I don’t think most homeschoolers consider themselves deserving of a break. Except when legislators or public school authorities interfere with well or ill intentioned motivations. Rule number one for homeschoolers should be to not make any rules or laws or regulations for homeschooling families. If we’ve already determined it’s worth it to go against the societal mainstream of public schools, then we’re also pretty determined to create the best learning opportunities for each of our children in the coziness of our homes. In other words, no worries about us, as public schools already have plenty to do on their own.
Neumann concludes with a question.
This latest proposal is designed for the heart not the head. Home-schooling families are too smart and too savvy to buy into this half-baked plan. They know that tax credits are good for nothing but greater federal intrusion. Is this what the Tea Party had in mind?
If you’ve ever heard the story about The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp, then you’ll understand homeschoolers don’t want to end up in the educational market’s pen. Many have walked away from the carrot.
NHELD’s Deborah Stevenson has an excellent piece about this tax credit issue.
Spunky has a piece, along with good comments on the issue.
Update – My thoughts, concerns, a bit of research and a lot of other good folks’ articles regarding the IL Education Tax Credit and its repercussions are posted here.
Submitted by Susan Ryan, who is happily and independently homeschooling in Illinois
Whereas legislators are considering tax breaks for homeschoolers; and
Whereas a homeschool group representing a fraction of the community lobbies for said tax breaks;
our representatives need to know the true feelings of the homeschooling community.
Join Homeschoolers Against Tax Credits at Facebook.
The New York Times opinion pages for January 5 includes arguments for and against the idea of state tax credits for homeschoolers, which is being promoted as a priority as the the newest Republicans in Congress seek to challenge the federal role in American public education, with an eye toward turning more power over to the states. The collected debates are presented under the banner title Do Homeschoolers Deserve a Tax Break?
HEM political analysts and homeschooling parents Larry and Susan Kaseman have written extensively about this topic, including in the current January-February issue of Home Education Magazine: Beware of Privatization of Education: It Reduces Our Homeschooling Freedoms:
“Homeschoolers can’t assume that as long as they as individuals refuse to accept government money or favors, they won’t be required to comply with state regulations written for homeschoolers who do accept them. Legislators and state regulators are highly unlikely to develop and expect public officials to enforce two separate sets of regulations for homeschoolers, one for those who accept tax credits or tax deductions or reimbursements for educational expenses or who play on public school sports teams or participate in other public school activities and the other for homeschoolers who don’t. If legislation is passed or regulations are developed to hold homeschoolers accountable because some homeschoolers are receiving government money, those statutes or regulations will no doubt apply to all homeschoolers, not just those getting the money.”
Further analysis and information can be found in this 1999 article by homeschooling mother and long-time advocate for homeschooling, Peggy Daly-Masternak: So What About That Free Lunch?
“With little strain, we can all think of many examples where the state is attempting to solve the problems presented by a few with far-reaching blanket laws to cover a worst case scenario. Think curfews. Think proficiency tests. Think greater restrictions on parents rights.
“My dear friends in homeschooling, there is no free lunch. If one currently exists, it won’t last forever. The piper always gets paid.”
The theme for this Carnival revolves around quotes from the popular movie The Princess Bride, one of the most quoted movies of all time and a particular favorite of homeschooling families. Familiar lines such as “When I was your age, television was called books.” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” and “As you wish.” are incorporated into the Carnival as the storyline is explained for those (few) who may be unfamiliar with it. It’s a brilliant composition, and a delightful foray into the movie’s favorite scenes. A fitting fifth anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling!