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Homeschool Divorce Trial

Posted by Annie on Oct 15, 2009 in Legal

Have you been following the most recent homeschooling case to hit the news? Jeff and Lisa are fighting out the private matter of the education of their children in a St. Charles County court house. I wonder if they realize that this is how thousands of CPS cases are started each year? But that’s an issue for another day.

Here are two people, who have raised their children to the ages of 14 and 16 respectively — both of which, have expressed their desire to continue homeschooling. I simply can’t understand why two grown-up adults, can’t settle their differences in a mature fashion. No judge in any court could possibly have a clue as to what is best for your family, let alone the children from that marriage.

What is wrong with these people? Why can’t the father hire a tutor, agree to enroll them in a charter school or any other options they both find agreeable. Why does it have to be private school or homeschool? Why can’t they both compromise and work this out?

If these parents are able to work together on other issues, as evidenced by this comment, “She recommended consultation between the parents on other issues such as medical care and religious teaching.” then they certainly should be able to work out this homeschooling issue.

This is such a common issue between parents and I believe there is a very simple reason for that. Mothers generally spend all day with their children, working with them, playing with them, and training them. At the same time, the father, traditionally the bread winner, the guy who comes home in the evening, spends 20-minutes with the kid and goes to bed. Weekends are for tossing around the ball, going to movies, or worse still, watching television.

He doesn’t really make a connection with the child, doesn’t have that strong bond, and as such doesn’t have all the facts. Basically, he doesn’t trust his children as much as his wife and he certainly has lost faith in the mother’s ability and sound judgement.

What bothers me the most about this typical situation is that these individuals who loved each other enough to get married, raised children together and worked together to build a life, would go before a complete stranger to settle such an important issue.

Don’t even get me started on the whole, “but had reached the limits of what she could teach them at home,” comment. These are not infants, they are perfectly capable of directing their own education. If not, they are going to be in major trouble when they turn 18. Home is where our children are supposed to learn self-discipline. Home is where we allow them to stumble and fall because once they are out on their own, they are doing it for real.

And believe it or not, watching you both work together to solve your differences is one of the greatest events you child will likely ever witness. Whether we like it or not, we are the most influentual people in their young lives. Our children observe our actions and mimic us — even as young adults — though most would be loath to admit it.

I’ve tried to teach my son to fight fair. I’m the type of person who has always fought to win. A favorite line I’d often quote was, “I don’t fight to win, I fight to get ahead,” and sadly I meant it. This normally translated into, my going for the jugular so-to-speak, instead of saying what was on my mind, I had to be very hurtful and harsh. My love was all but forgot and all I spewed was venom. I would cut my opponent, usually my husband, to shreds.

My husband is a gentle soul, who I encouraged to express his feelings, instead of keeping it bottled deep inside. Today there are times he expresses his feelings a little too well for my taste but I prefer this to the alternative. My husband has taught me to fight fair, fighting is a natural part of any relationship. It helps to clear the air between a couple. However, two people who love each other, should never intentionally harm the other. When involved in a conflict, one needs to remember, they will be sleeping with that person tonight.

We all experience stress from time to time. That stress can be caused by a job loss, extensive debt, a death in the family, or any number of life-changing situations. It’s how we deal with that stress that determines the kind of people we are. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask and if you don’t get the help you are seeking, keep looking. The worst thing you can do is — nothing.

I do hope and pray the Naeger family can work things out — together.

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Closing Ranks?

Posted by Annie on Sep 20, 2009 in Education

As a data miner so-to-speak, I collect homeschooling data on a massive scale, to use primarily as a resource to connect homeschooling families.

Closing Ranks?

Living in an area overrun with charter schools and very few independent homeschoolers, we don’t socialize much with fellow homeschoolers. It wasn’t planned, it just is. My attempts at starting a local group have been futile at best. Our lifestyle doesn’t lend itself well to structure or advance planning. We tend to grab life as it happens.

What I see in growing trends is a closing off of groups. I’ve received dozens of requests for the removal of groups, not because the group no longer meets but because they don’t want to accept new members. This is harsh folks.

If a group gets too large, you split it up into smaller groups that are more in-line with the members needs or location. Options are endless but to close your group to new members, prevents new homeschoolers from receiving the kind of help you found, when you were taking baby steps in the homeschooling realm.

To counter the closing of ranks, I see many, many new groups forming, with the group leaders complaining they can’t find a local support group.

It is my qualified option that we need to make ourselves more visible and more available to new homeschoolers if we ever expect to grow our ranks away from being termed a fringe element of society.

I have also noticed a greater push, this year — more so than in the previous couple of years — toward more government control. We are seeing a huge push in Alaska right now, more troubles for homeschoolers in Germany, England and now Sweden. This isn’t a public outcry; this new drive is coming from the public school system. The public schools are really starting to feel the pinch from declining enrollment, not only due to an increased number of those homeschooling, but also due to a decline in numbers of enrollment age children.

We must work together to strengthen our homeschooling families because the push for additional regulation or in some instances, outright bans, will continue to get worse in the coming months and years — especially as the economic situation worsens for many.

P.S. If your local homeschool support group is not listed on LocalHS please consider adding it — your neighbor might be looking for you to help get her homeschool off to a terrific start.

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Schooled at home

Posted by Annie on Sep 17, 2009 in Education

Some unnamed — don’t you just love it when writers spout off publicly and can’t even own up to their own work? Some chicken in Alaska is spouting off about how the homeschooling laws in Alaska are too lax.

Just exactly who does he or she think they are kidding? The author began with…

Alaska has some of the most lax home-schooling laws in the nation, according to a report in Sunday’s Daily News. Home schooling can be a highly effective option for educated, motivated parents who have the time and expertise to handle such a profound responsibility. However, our home-schooling laws are so lax, parents don’t even have to notify the state that they have a school-age child whom they are educating at home, let alone show that their children are actually learning anything.

Why on Earth should homeschooling parents have to prove anything to the state? Whose children are these again? Is the state feeding these children? Are they being housed by the state? If the state is not paying to education these children, then what on God’s green Earth should the state have to say about it?

I’ll bet the author had no idea that Alaska is not alone in respecting the rights of its citizens. Homeschoolers in the states of Michigan and Texas (just to name two) both exercise their freedom to choose their method of educating their children and require no notification, no testing, no tracking or other interference of any kind.

The author goes on to say…

Reform has to start with the most basic change: Requiring parents to let the state know when they are home schooling a child. As part of the process, the state could supply the parents with information about home-school support programs offered by various Alaska school districts. Parents may not be aware of those programs, which offer money for home-school educational activities and materials, such as computers.

Give me a break. Homeschooling parents are some of the most resourceful well-informed people I’ve ever met. We are well networked and homeschoolers spend a great deal less than states spend on education — and get better results to boot.

State law does provide some academic oversight of home schooling, but only when home-school students get help through a school district correspondence program. Those students have to take the state’s standardized tests to measure their educational progress.

The same requirement should apply to students who are being taught at home without any help from a state-recognized correspondence program. In fact, that kind of academic oversight is even more important in those circumstances. In general, when parents don’t get outside support, their home-schooled students are at a greater risk of not getting a real education.

I checked out our local school’s academic record and let me tell you what, it was less than impressive. How many schools are failing — by their own admission? Is this the model they hold up for homeschool families to follow — their own failed attempts to attain educational excellence? The fact is the public school system has its hands full as it is; they aren’t doing such a hot job with the children in their care now. So, why would homeschoolers trust government educators with the education of their children?

I’ve known children in public schools who graduated – diploma in hand and could barely read a word that appeared on that same diploma. Do we blame the schools? Yes. Do we blame the parents? Yes. Does a portion of the blame fall on the student? Perhaps.

It’s time we stop looking at children as if they were one size fits all. Some children struggle with education their entire lives and it wouldn’t matter where or who was attempting to instruct them. All the testing in the world, won’t make a difference. Some children just naturally take to reading, writing and “ciphering,” as the old folks call it. Others, are “left behind” to coin a phrase.

To the author, I present to you that homeschoolers are a free people too, it’s a right guaranteed by our constitution. In the absence of evidence of wrong doing, homeschooling parents are innocent. If you have evidence otherwise, present it in a court of law.

As often said, “This is not your child.”

~Annette M. Hall

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