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A View From Home

by Cyndy Rogers

[Included herein are the latest news tidbits in legislation affecting homeschoolers and a calendar of events nationwide. If you have a news story for this column please write The Link, Attention A View from Home.]

Another homeschooling year is about to begin and as I prepare my lesson plan I can’t help feeling like there are salivating wolves outside my door. If that is a bit too vivid for you I’ll explain. Since H.R 1 was passed last year which gave states more flexibility, promotes charter schools and sets up new rules on how schools get federal monies, everybody wants homeschoolers on their books. New charter schools and home study programs are popping up everywhere to grab a piece of the pie.

Why wouldn’t public schools want homeschool kids? It makes perfect sense to add us to the books. We don’t cost much. There is no need for desks, classrooms, or teachers and in some cases, we buy our own books. Our kids typically test better, boosting the school’s overall scores. So homeschoolers are a way for budget struggling school districts to get more money without increasing expenses.

Look at the headlines across the nation and witness this trend. Here in California, the Sonoma County Office of Education has denied application from homeschool families filing an R-4 private school avadavat. An R-4 is required to homeschool in California. (Private charter schools and private ISPs also file R-4s).

In fact, the month prior to receiving denial of their R4’s, these same families were asked to homeschool as part of the public school’s new ISP. Terms like “free” curriculum and “qualified” teachers were used to persuade them. The state superintendent, Delaine Easton, has gone on record has as saying homeschooling does not qualify as private education. And so, my neighbors to the north now find themselves in a battle to educate their kids. California is not alone in these tactics to get homeschoolers on the books.

In Rhode Island, some families have been denied their right to homeschool. Although Rhode Island recognizes homeschooling as a constitutional right, the state has fairly restrictive home education regulations, including approval by the local school district, an annual assessment, and mandated attendance records. In addition to this, some districts have created more obstacles for homeschoolers by making more requirements.

For example, Foster-Glocester School District has requested homeschooling families to submit progress reports and attendance records on a quarterly basis instead of annually as the law requires. In the East Providence School District, families have begun receiving rejections of their application to homeschool. In the past the parents gave the committee information about their homeschooling program and received "rubber-stamped" approval. However, the East Providence School District has now rejected a majority of applications. In a recent meeting, 11 out of 14 families were refused approval to homeschool. The explanation given by district officials was that the families were denied "because of an incomplete application process.” Even though the law does not mandate any particular form, it seems they only accept one application form -- theirs.

In Ohio, the Wellston City School District released a new policy that adds more regulations to homeschool. According to the Home School Legal Defense League, a nationwide advocate for homeschooling, the new requirements are all contrary to state law. They include (1) a minimum of four weeks’ notification to the school district on the intent to homeschool, (2) requiring both test scores and a written narrative instead of one or the other, (3) asking homeschool families to file a progress report each semester instead of annually and requiring students to take all standardized tests. In addition, the policy specifies that the district superintendent has the discretion to allow or disallow homeschool programs.

In Colorado the Sargent School District tried a more friendly way of luring families. The board of education is investigating the district’s recent plan that involved paying homeschool families $600 to "enroll" in public school for a short period of time. This enabled the school district to increase its budget by receiving $1,200 extra from the state for each of these "temporarily" enrolled students. When State officials found out, they refused to pay the district for the homeschooled students. A recent article in the Denver Post explains, the Board is now seeking "a tightening of the rules" during this legislative season.

State legislation is another road to detour homeschoolers. In Delaware, the General Assembly passed, and Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed, Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 9 which creates a committee to study homeschooling over the next seven months. Look for more legislation in 2003 from this committee.

Delaware is not the only state to be looking at homeschooling. The Home School Legal Defense Association reviewed legislation introduced over the last year and has outlined trends for this upcoming legislative period. Nationwide, they found homeschool rights will be challenged in the upcoming term by two major trends. The first trend is mandatory assessments. Here again H.R. 1 is the catalyst. It says, “schools must make significant progress to get bonuses.” This is done through assessments. The majority of the fifty states now have requirements for testing. Look for changes in the law that will tie benefits or freedoms to mandatory testing. Benefits like; tax credits, vouchers, and participation in extracurricular activities.

The second trend is what they term “Government Nanny Programs” which are programs to watch an over children and allow the government control and limit parental rights.

Getting children into school earlier may be part of this trend. In California A.B. 634 changes the age children start school to age 5 from age 6. In Illinois, H.B. 795 lowers the age from 7 to 6. In Pennsylvania, H.B. 230 lowers the age of children starting school from 8 down to 6 years old. Some states are trying to keep them longer. In Kentucky H.B. 7 and in Missouri H.B. 1460 raises the age that kids can leave school from 16 to18.

Why wouldn’t they want our kids for as long as they can get them? There are a lot of fantastic homeschool kids. Homeschoolers are on record for doing some wonderful things. For example, in Tennessee a team of homeschoolers won the National High School Mock Trial Championship held in St. Paul, Minnesota. This May, The Family Christian Academy of Home Schoolers of Chattanooga took first place arguing a hypothetical lawsuit stemming from the famous shipwreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald on November10, 1975.

In Clinton, Missouri, a group of homeschoolers found a 22-foot-long, 10-foot-high Allosaurous skull. Homeschoolers paid $950 a person for the chance to dig on what National Geographic called “one of the 50 best fossil dig sites in the world.” Under the leadership of Doug Phillips they got the chance to study dinosaurs and learn excavation techniques. Homeschooling Dad, Dr. Bruce Bellamy, found the skull.

Phillips says, “I placed a $250 bounty on anyone who found the skull”, he said. “It was just a small incentive for my team, of course. The actual skull could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Bellamy was not the only one to make a discovery. On a second site, 9-year-old homeschooler Haley Meadows found the claws of a 100-foot Sauropod. It is believed to be of the rare Ultrasaurus variety, according to Phillips.

Phillips said in a recent interview, “The home schoolers on this trip paid for the privilege of shoveling dirt, hacking at rocks and the possibility that some of them might uncover dinosaur bones,” he continues “There is not one child in a million who gets an opportunity like this. This is what home education is all about.”

That’s why we love homeschooling. Home education allows for the periodic adventure. If you are looking for one and your student has their head in the clouds, here’s a chance to go where every space cadet yearns to go -- space. Log onto www.spaceday.com and view the activities planned for the coming Space Day set for May 1, 2003.

Developed by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Space Day 2003 Design Challenges is designed to encourage students to create innovative solutions to aviation and aerospace challenges over the next century. Last year, more than 8,500 students and nearly 300 teachers participated in the Space Day Design Challenge program. Sixteen "Stellar” Design Challenge teams were honored by Senator Glenn, Dr. Sally Ride and other space enthusiasts at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

Homeschoolers were among the teams sharing projects. They included students and teachers from Cummins Home School, Garden Valley Christian Academy and Messer Home School. Now in its fourth year, this online educational program is designed in collaboration with 65 partners that include leaders in the aerospace industry, NASA, and leading business and education organizations.

The Space Day 2003 Design Challenges include: Fly to the Future (design of future commercial aircraft); Watt Power (alternative fuel sources for future flights); and Planetary Explorers (design of space craft to explore other planets). To provide the appropriate level of challenge, each of these Space Day Design Challenges will be offered to grades 4-6 and 7-8. Educators will be able to access an array of online lesson plans, innovative classroom activities and resources. These tools are designed to inspire students about the wonders of the universe while underscoring the importance of math, science and technology. Details and online registration will be available in early September at www.spaceday.com

Calendar of Events:

Alabama - Conference held in July. For info re the 2003 conference check www.alhome.com

Alaska - for 2003 Dates go to www.aphea.org

Arkansas - No conference scheduled. For more info contact www.familycouncil.org

Arizona - for info re 2003 dates go to www.afhe.org or contact Covenant Home School Resource Center Special Events, 1117 E. Devonshire Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85014; 602/277-3497; Contact: Holly Craw hsgrd@att.net

California - for 2003 dates go to www.californiahomeschool.net

March 29, 2003 9th Annual Southern California Homeschool Conference For more information, visit: http://www.bayshoreeducational.com/conference.html

For 2003 dates in central California www.valleyhomeeducators.org or call 209/544-6892; email information@valleyhomeeducators.org

August 16-18, 2002 Trusting the Children, Trusting Ourselves Radisson Hotel Sacramento - also for more information go to: http://www.hsc.org/homeedconf.html

Colorado - If you were unable to attend the conference, or if you would like to order audiotapes of the workshops and general sessions, you are encouraged to visit the conference taping vendor website at www.audiomission.com.

The 2003 Denver conference will be held on June 19, 20, and 21. Check the CHEC website & future editions of the CHEC Homeschool Update magazine for more details. You can still view the old 2002 State Conference site. Visit www.chec.org for more information.

Connecticut - No conference scheduled. For updates visit: http://www.teachct.org/ or email teach.info@pobox

Delaware - Conference being planned. Check www.dheaonline.org for updates.

Florida - May 2003. For more info www.fpea.com or 877-ask-fpea 2002 tapes still available.

Georgia - 17th Annual GHEA Home Education Conference being planned. For more info (770) 461-3657 or www.ghea.org 2002 convention tapes available on line.

Homeschool Connection - for more information on 2003 date, visit: http://www.ghsc.net/

Hawaii – HI Homeschool Association see www.hawaiihomeschoolassociation.org, Voice mail (call anytime): 808/944-3339; hawaiihomeschoolers@hotmail.com (best way) Idaho - Aug 1 information about 2003 conference, visit: http://www.chois.org/

Illinois - The 7th Annual Home Educators Conference is scheduled for 3/14-15/2003 at Pheasant Run, St. Charles, IL. Our new web site will be completed soon - please check back often. http://www.illinoishouse.org/index.html or e-mail at admin@HomeEducatorsConference.org

May 15-17, 2003 ICHE 2003 Annual State Convention Calvary Church, Naperville, Illinois For more information, visit: www.iche.org

Indiana - No conference scheduled. For update and other events go to http://www.inhomeeducators.org

Iowa - for 2003 date call 800/723-0438 or go to www.theniche.org/

Kansas - The 2003 Midwest Parent Educators Conference is scheduled for May 2-3, 2003, at the Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd. (city unknown) www.mpekc.org

2002 conference audiotapes available from:Rhino Technologies 222 Temple Hill Drive Almo, KY 42020 Ph: 270/753-0717, e-mail: tapes@rhino-technologies.com

Kentucky - Conference just held. For 2003 dates go to www.chek.org or call: 502/358-9270; e-mail: sburzlaff@kvnet.org

Louisiana - No conference scheduled. Updates, contact CHEF: 1-888/876-CHEF; e-mail: amedees@bellsouth.net

Maine - No date set for 2003. Updates, visit: http://www.homeschool-maine.org

Maryland - convention updates see www.chenmd.org or 410/730-0073

Massachusetts - 2003 convention planned for Spring, scheduled speakers: John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research, and Jeff Myers. For info 508/755-4467 or www.MassHOPE.org 2002 tapes still available on line.

Conference held in July for 2003 dates visit: http://www.homeeducator.com/conferences.htm

Michigan - updates http://www.clonlara.org

February 1 & 2 - Mid-Winter Home Educator's Conference, Sunshine Ministry Center Hosted by Reformed Bible College. Mid Winter Home Educators Conference, POB 305, Grandville, MI 49468 for more information, visit: http://www.homeschoolbuilding.org/hsc/midwinter.htm

Minnesota - Conference just held. For 2003 dates go to http://www.mncatholichomeedconference.org/

Mississippi - No conference scheduled. For updates call Joanne at 601/845-2722 go to www.okhomeschoolers.homestead.com

Missouri - No conference scheduled http://www.match-inc.org/Conv2002.html

Montana - No conference scheduled. Updates: call Steve White 406/587-6163 or www.mtche.org

Nevada - No conference scheduled. Updates: Northern Nevada Homeschool www.go.to/nnhs or 775/852-6647

Nebraska - No conference scheduled. Updates: www.nchea.org

New Hampshire - No conference scheduled. Updates: http://www.mv.com/ipusers/chenh

New Jersey - Conference just held. Tapes available and updates go to www.enochnj.org

New Hampshire - No conference scheduled. Updates: http://www.mv.com/ipusers/chenh/

New York - Conference just held. Tapes available and updates go to www.leah.org

New Mexico - September15-21, 2002 Scouting for the Homeschooled - Philmont Training Conference. For more info, visit: http://homeschooledscouts.tripod.com/ptc2002.html

North Carolina - Conference just held. Transcript available on line http://www.nche.com/index.html

North Dakota - No conference scheduled. For information email: ndhsa@wdata.com

Ohio - Conference just held. No 2003 date set updates at http://www.cheohome.org/events/convention01/convention_2001.htm

Oklahoma - No events scheduled, updates at http://chescowest.homestead.com/bookfair.html

Oregon - Conference just held. Tapes available at www.ohenconference.org

Pennsylvania - Conference just held. No 2003 date set updates at http://www.catholichomeschoolpa.org/ccf.html

Conference just held. Visit: http://www.chapboard.org/convention/

Rhode Island - No conference scheduled. For updates go to http://member.tripod.com./righthome/

South Carolina - Event just held. No conference scheduled for updates www.p-chee.com or (864) 609-5411 for other convention info go to www.scaihs.org or call 803-772- 2330

South Dakota - Conference held in July. For info go to www.sdche.org

Tennessee - No conference scheduled. For info: http://www.smhea.org/resfair.html

Texas - Aug 16 & 17, NTHEN's 2002 Summer Homeschool Conference and Bookfair, Plano Centre. Ph: 214/495-9600 Sponsor: North Texas Home Educators' Network; for more info, http://www.nthen.org/

Utah - Conference held in June tapes available at www.uhea.org

Vermont - Nearest conference, see Massachusetts or go to www.vermonthomeschool.org

Virginia - Held in May. No 2003 date set; updates: www.teachhomeschool.com

Washington - Conference held in June. No 2003 dates; more info: www.washhomeschool.org

Aug 2 & 3, 2002 WHO (Washington Homeschool Organization) 2nd Annual Inland NW Curriculum Exhibit Spokane, WA, http://www.washhomeschool.org/

West Virginia - No conference scheduled. Updates: www.wvheahome.homestead.com

Wisconsin – Sept 14, 2002 Christian Home Educator's Association Conference at Elmbrook Church; Brookfield, WI http://pages.prodigy.net/jang8/html/conference.html

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