I went to the Women’s session of the General Conference for our church last night. I came away feeling uplifted and calmer about life in general. One thing was said that caught most everyone’s attention- the challenge and call to action that asked women to come to the defense of the family.
What does that mean for me? See, the thing is, I think most people had things like single parenthood or unwed mothers or gay marriage on their minds. But None of that applies to me. You know what does? Educating my family applies to me. And because I’m trying to glean from those talks only the things that apply to me, I want to stand up in defence of the family and apply it to educating my children.
A long time ago, you know, when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to educate my own children at home. I had no idea how hard that would be. But I loved the idea. When my oldest hit 3 years old I began educating her with workbooks and reading to her and taking her to all sorts of good educational places and calling it homeschool. I never realized how hard home school actually was.
After getting pregnant with our fifth baby I gave in and decided that we would put my oldest into a 1st grade public school because I just couldn’t do it all. She only lasted 2 months. I’m sure that our experience with that two months of schooling was vital in helping me solidify why I didn’t want my kids in public school.
~Our family had dramatically less time with each other
~My daughter never had time to play
~My daughter began being more worried about being with her friends than enjoying reading or doing her math
~My daughter had to confront bullying without any background training (what 7 year old can recite an entire conversation and actually ask for help in knowing how to respond?)
When it came down to it- I knew that for our entire family’s sake as well as my daughter’s well being, she needed to be home!
But do you know the laws that surround homeschooling? So many states are working their way toward phasing out homeschooling and making it so impractical for families that they have no choice but to put their children into the Government’s hands. School districts are also starting to offer more schooling (before school meals and programs, full day kindergarten, after school snacks, programs, clubs, sports). Its a two edged sword, necessary for families who need somewhere for their children to go but also taking all responsibility for teaching and parenting away from the parents.
New York has some of the strictest homeschooling laws in the country. I was going to do a nice little type up of different states laws but in all honesty, I don’t have a blog big enough. There are blogs that are completely dedicated to dealing with homeschooling laws. But New York requires, in grades 1-6, 13 different subjects and each subject has to have a total of 108 instruction hours per school year. That is a total of 1404 logged hours! On top of that, parents have to log attendance and have to follow the same rules for “absences” as the school districts do.
If at any point in time the students are found to be failing subjects, the parents are non compliant with the reporting regulations, or they fail to meet the testing standards, the parents could be put on probation. The state will require further oversight by the school board, who can also require home visits to ensure compliance with the regulations.
Luckily, there are only 5 states in the country who have this strict of oversight. There are also 19 states (and three territories) in our country who require evaluations of progress , state testing, and monitoring by the state. Missouri is one of these states. Their regulations are still pretty high, requiring daily logs of what was taught, records of grades and proof that the child is maintaining A,B, or C grades, with a total requirement of 1000 hours of instruction. This state doesn’t require the curriculum to be approved but it does require reporting and monitoring.
There are only 26 states (and three territories) that require only notification of intent to home school or less. Even those states that only require that you report homeschooling can charge you with petty offenses or misdemeanor if you don’t educate up to their standards or don’t report your intent to home school. A majority of the states in our country require that parents comply with their regulations regarding what to teach, when to teach it and how much to teach!
I’m all for parents of home schoolers teaching to high standards. I’m all for having parents of home schoolers work hard to ensure their children are achieving to the best of their potential. But I’m not for the regulation of homeschooling to the point that it becomes almost unrealistic or daunting to achieve said goals.
Children belong to their parents and the parents have the sole responsibility to teach them. Children do not belong to the state and it isn’t right for states to insert their judgement in how a child is raised. The family might be under attack in the way of marriage or living wages or abuse, but the rights of the nuclear family unit must also be paid attention to. The rights to educate our children the way we see fit are vital to the survival of the family.
I’m not exactly sure where this is going to go. I might just be grateful that my state is one of the 26 that doesn’t require very strict regulation and then go back to spending my time with my kids. But I might end up finding opportunities to take this further. Really, I’ve had about 3 hours to think this through.
But I know that what I got out of last night’s women’s conference is that I need to make my voice heard in favor of our families being allowed to teach what they feel necessary for their children to learn, without the heavy government oversight.
Statistics taken from https://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp?