Check it out!
In January’s Issue:
* JANUARY’S HIGHLIGHT
* ISSUES BEING WATCHED
* SPECIAL OFFER FROM HOME EDUCATION MAGAZINE
* COMMUNITY SERVICE
* WEB UPDATES
* ONLINE HOME EDUCATION MAGAZINE ARCHIVES
* HEM RESOURCES AND MORE
This month’s HEM SUPPORT GROUP NEWS feature is a Scottish organization,
the Schoolhouse Home Education Association <http://www.schoolho
Schoolhouse Home Education Association is dedicated to the needs of home
educators and home educated young people in Scotland. To learn more
about the organization, I interviewed Alison Preuss, the group’s
Secretary and Press Officer.
Mary: Alison, thanks for taking the time to share with us about Home
Education in Scotland and the Schoolhouse Home Education Association.
First of all, when and how did Schoolhouse Home Education Association
Alison: Schoolhouse was founded by four home educating families
(including my own) in Dundee in 1996 as there was at that time a lack of
dedicated information and support for families in Scotland. The
education and legal systems are different in England and Wales, and we
wanted to ensure that home educating families in Scotland had access to
accurate information about their rights and responsibilities under the
Education (Scotland) Act 1980.
Mary: What is the home education climate like in Scotland?
Alison: It can get quite hot at times! We have had a number of battles
over the past 10 years as government has tried to impose draconian rules
on home educators. Since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999,
education has been devolved from the UK Parliament in London and we have
been better able to access and lobby our politicians to support the
retention of our rights. The Scottish Executive tried to introduce
statutory guidance on us a few years ago and were rather taken aback by
the reaction from home educators from across the globe! It was a
wonderful lesson in democracy for our children to march (twice!) on the
Scottish Parliament and make our case for the government to leave us
alone, and we now fortunate to have some strong allies within the
opposition parties. We are still working on the government, but there is
an election next May.
The most important development here is that the statutory guidance on
home education is currently under review and the consultaton period will
run until mid February 2007. Meanwhile Schoolhouse has been working with
the Scottish Consumer Council <http://www.scotcons
was first issued in March 2004. Our interim findings indicate that local
authorities are failing to follow it and have mostly failed to
update theor policies in line with it. We are holding a seminar in
Glasgow on 15 January, which will be attended by home educators and
local authority officers, to discuss aspects of the guidance review.
Mary: The Schoolhouse Home Education Association Website offers a wealth
of information for those wanting to learn more about Home Education in
Scotland. You have a wonderful FAQ page that would help enlighten anyone
in the world looking to learn more about home education. Let’s discuss
a few issues from there. Who can home educate in Scotland?
Alison: Any parent in Scotland is legally entitled to educate their
child at home as long as the education they provide is ‘suitable’ and
‘efficient’ and takes into account any special needs the child may have.
While parents do not need permission to home educate per se as they are
responsible in law for their children’s education, they need the consent
of their local authority to remove their child from a state school. This
subtle difference is often misunderstood and abused by local
authorities, and much of Schoolhouse’
officials about the law!
Mary: What is the most important thing one needs to know about home
Alison: Probably that it is legal as so many people still believe that
it isn’t! Also that it works and that we have incontrovertible evidence
of its success in the form of a growing number of home educated adults
who have gone through college/university (or not if they chose not to do
so!) to become useful members of society.
Mary: Could you tell us about the laws that govern home education in
Alison: The relevant legislation in Scotland is the Education (Scotland)
Act 1980 which affirms that parents are responsible for their children’s
education. Section 30 states: It shall be the duty of the parent of
every child of school age to provide efficient education for him
suitable to his age, ability and aptitude either by causing him to
attend a public school regularly or by other means. The Scottish
Executive issued statutory guidance on home education in 2004 which
seeks to further clarify the law for local authorities, and that is
currently under review.
Mary: How do Scottish Home Educators protect their home education
Alison: We try to keep abreast of all new government proposals and
initiatives that may affect us. Schoolhouse networks with a large
number of children’s and parents’ organisations in Scotland and we
maintain contact with the education spokespersons of all the political
parties in the Scottish Parliament, many of whom consult with us on
legislative amendments which could affect home educating families. We
may be a minority group, but we are known to be ‘dangerous prey’ as we
are uncompromising when it comes to defending our rights.
Mary: In the spring of 2006, Schoolhouse Home Education News wrote about
a situation concerning Home Education and the Scottish Parliament. Can
you tell us more about that situation?
Alison: Schoolhouse has sometimes had to call upon Members of the
Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to support parents who are being poorly
treated by local authorities over their decision to home educate. One
such case hit the headlines earlier this year when a parent was
unreasonably refused consent to remove her children from a state school.
The Scottish Green Party MSP Robin Harper subsequently tabled a
parliamentary motion calling for support for Schoolhouse’
change the law to allow parents in Scotland to remove their children
from school simply by notifying the local (which is already the case in
England and Wales). The motion was supported by 47 MSPs from all parties
and sent a clear message to the government that bullying tactics by
local authorities would not be tolerated.
Mary: Just recently, Scottish homeschooling was in the news, "39% rise
in home education" in the UK Herald-
Alison : The most important development here is that the statutory
guidance on home education is currently under review and the
consultation period will run until mid February 2007. Meanwhile
Schoolhouse has been working with the Scottish Consumer Council
up to their ‘Homeworks’ report (2000) on research into the
implementation of the guidance which was first issued in March 2004. Our
interim findings indicate that local authorities are failing to follow
it and have mostly failed to update theory policies in line with it. We
are holding a seminar in Glasgow on 15 January, which will be attended
by home educators and local authority officers, to discuss aspects of
the guidance review.
Mary: What issues do you see that need to be addressed within your
country’s homeschooling community?
Alison: I think we have to be careful not to become complacent as more
and more measures are brought in by the government to try and curb our
hard won freedoms. They are often dressed up as ‘child protection’ or
‘children’s rights’ concerns and may fool the more gullible into
thinking that the 24/7 surveillance of the entire child population by
the state is somehow a good thing!
Mary: How are those issues being handled?
Alison: The Scottish home education community is extremely well
networked and information is shared and debated far and wide in order to
try and achieve consensus for action. Schoolhouse does all it can to
inform and engage its members and the wider home education community so
that everyone is made aware of the issues that affect us. We also have
close links with home educators in the rest of the UK and overseas,
whose collective experience we are able to draw upon.
Mary: What do you feel is the most valuable information you share with
new home educators? With veteran home educators?
Alison: New home educators often lack confidence and are invariably
locked into the ‘school at home’ mindset, so we try and encourage them
to think outside the classroom and take the lead from their child and
his or her interests. They also need to know they are on the right side
of the law and that there is back-up available from Schoolhouse if they
run into any hostile education officials! The message we send to veteran
home educators is simply: your home education community needs you! The
‘vets’ are often the ones who bring new information about various issues
to Schoolhouse, for example how to access work experience placements,
college courses or alternative qualifications from home, and have vast
experience of home educating and overcoming bureaucratic barriers and
obstacles over many years. They are vital to our support network.
Mary: Alison, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and to
help us to learn about your wonderful group and the wonderful Scottish
Alison: Many thanks for inviting us to share information about our
group. Do keep in touch!
ISSUES BEING WATCHED
Recently, I posted a suggested Grassroots Campaign to Write Your
Group Blog that was proposed by Nancy McVicker of New Jersey. She
Now that the elections are over…Many of us wish to reinforce ( or
introduce) the fact that the population of home educating families in
the US is a diverse and varied group.Would you please consider sending a
message to your state and federal representatives stating as much? You
could send email, or a fax. A small package of cookies or some other
token would be nice, accompanied by a short letter.
Maybe something along these lines (in your own words.)
"Dear Ms Politician,
Congratulations to your [re]election to the Senate [or whatever]!
As a homeschooling family, we’d like to welcome you [back].
Sometime in the course of your career in the Senate [or whatever],you
will no doubt hear legislation presented on behalf of "American
we are a diverse group, representing all religious beliefs,races and
ethnic groups, and economic levels. We range across the political
When you hear someone claiming to speak for all homeschoolers, please
keep in mind that they may not have asked me what I think, and that I
have not asked them to speak for me.
Thanks for listening.
[kids should sign their own names – it’s endearing from the little ones,
and empowering for older kids]
Thanks for listening.
New Jersey Homeschool Association
Further discussions have ensued concerning Nancy’s excellent suggestion
and for those who might be new to homeschooling and/or unfamiliar with
the process of homeschool grass roots activism, I have compiled a list
of resources that have been helpful to me. It is not all inclusive and
my hope is that others who are more experienced will send along their
resources as well so that we can all continue to learn from one another
and continue to protect our freedom to home educate.
When I first began homeschooling, I did not fully understand that the
choice to homeschool was a political act until I read, Taking Charge
Through Homeschooling: Personal and Political Empowerment
e&n=283155> by Larry and Susan Kaseman. The book is a goldmine and
truly does give one the tools for personal and political empowerment if
one chooses to utilize them. Valerie Bonham Moon offers a listing of the
chapters in the book at the Military Homeschooler under Legal resources
Within Chapter Nine of Taking Charge Through Homeschooling: Personal and
Political Empowerment, page 87 offers a wonderful statement that helped
me to finally understand that home education is a political act, why I
had to become more involved and that I could not continue to rely on
others to do this important work.
Because education is so bound by the political system, home schoolers
need to become politically active in order to be able to reclaim and
maintain their right to home school without harmful government
regulation that will force home schools to become like conventional
Reading this book really helped to solidify the importance of knowing my
rights and understanding that it was my responsibility to maintain and
protect my rights and freedoms. The Kaseman’s also helped me to
understand the importance of NOT linking partisan politics to
homeschooling in " Let’s Not Link Homescholing to Partisan Politics"
which was published in their Taking Charge column in the November-
December 2004 Issue of Home Education Magazine. It is available online
for free here <http://www.homeedma
Each section of the article is informative, but I think one section
captures an important message. It states:
However, our broad base is being undermined as the largest and
best-known national homeschooling organization, the Home School Legal
Defense Association (HSLDA) becomes increasingly involved in political
activity and so links homeschooling to right wing politics, something
that is gaining increasing attention in the media. The problem is the
linkage, not the fact that HSLDA is right wing. In fact, many
homeschoolers take the same position as HSLDA on various issues, but
they realize that their homeschooling freedoms would be threatened if
they mixed non-homeschooling issues with their work to maintain
homeschooling freedoms. It would be just as problematic for
homeschooling to be linked to left wing politics. "
To maintain the strength of the homeschooling movement, we need to
remember how varied homeschoolers are and what a small minority of the
movement HSLDA represents (only about 10% of homeschooling families have
paid HSLDA dues). We need to share this information with other
homeschoolers, legislators, the media, and the general public
The column offers great insight and goes on to explain the important
reasons why we don’t primarily rely on statutes and courts for our
homeschooling freedoms and actions we can take to help the situation.
As my interest in grassroots homeschool activism grew, I began to
understand that my right to homeschool is a fundamental right, which
means that it originates from nature or God. Therefore, it began to
dawn on me that it was also my fundamental responsibility to monitor
what the government and others may be doing in the "name" of
homeschooling, but where could I begin?
I began my political education by reading books such as Taking Charge,
reading articles in Home Education Magazine, reading my state and our
country’s political policies and procedures and by getting to know other
homeschool advocates. I learned that I could follow the politics of
education in this country, how to get to know my political officials so
they know and understand that there is indeed a diverse group of home
educators in my state and district. If any of you don’t know who your
local, state and federal officials are here are a few resources for
look up your congressman by zipcode and Goveng.com
and local officials.
I found out that just as I could become my own best expert concerning my
child, I could also get to know the issues, follow legislation and that
I should not be intimidated by the legaleze. Here are a few sites that
offer information that helped me early on and continue to do so now:
* Home Education Magazine’s Homeschool Information Library -
* Home School Is Legal -
* Learning is for Everyone -
* National Home Education Legal Defense http://www.nheld.
* The VaHomeschoolers site, www.VaHomeschoolers
grassroots lobbyists, including:
* How to Talk to a Politician
* In Like a Lamb, Out Like a Lion
* Play An Active Role in Legislative Affairs
* How and Why Homeschoolers Should Be Involved in Local and State
* Strategies for Building Effective Relationships With Politicians
* Play an Active Role from the Organization of Virginia
Whether writing, calling or talking to my official’s office, I learned
to be prepared, knowing the core issue that I wanted to discuss or
present and also that it was important to stay on topic. This way I am
was aware of whether I was attempting to win them over or thank them
for being on the same page. You can look up federal bills federal
legislators have worked on and their voting record at THOMAS
information concerning your local and state government officials here:
Always double check any information that has been shared with you for
accuracy before you pass it along to a legislator because it is your
credibility that is on the line.
Once you establish a relationship with the legislator or their aide and
you have earned their trust, they can turn to you for help. Nancy’s
suggested letter is an excellent start. You might also contact them
other times throughout the year sending them positive news clippings
about home educators, or simply telling them again through the year
about the benefits your family enjoys in their district while
homeschooling. They may not know a thing about home education and would
love to have a contact in their rolodex for someone who is informed on
the subject within their district.
One other thing to be aware of is that many times when calling
legislators, it is the aides who man the phones. I have found them to
be extremely helpful when calling, but a letter is often preferred as it
lays out the point you want to make that can be handed to the legislator
just as you have sent it, instead of what the aide may have "thought"
you were trying to state on the phone. Legislators say that one letter
is equal to ten phone calls from other constituents.
Here are a few brief, universal tips that I have gathered from reading
a variety of sources that explain how to write to a legislator:
* Make your letter personal — speak from your own heart and
perspective. Polls have shown that over 70% of all lawmakers said they
pay closer attention to personally written letters, in contrast to form
letters that only get about 19% of their attention.
* Tell your official about yourself and your place in his/her
district? Are you a voter? Have you met or worked on any other issues
* If you are writing to the official about a bill, make sure you
identify it via the correct bill number and title.
* Be brief, respectful and to the point. Your letter should be no
more than one page.
* Follow up your letter with a phone call
* Be sure to address your letter correctly
* Ask others to write their own letters as well
I want to thank Nancy McVicker again for her excellent suggestion. I
also welcome any resources that you would like to add to this piece. You
can send those along to me via this online form
comments at the blog.
Again, I am no expert. I am not a lobbyist, nor am I a politician. I am
a homeschool Mom who learned that just as the Kasemans wrote, We can
Take Charge Through Homeschooling and while doing so we become
personally and politically empowered.
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H.E.A.R.T.S. January/February Theme: Valentines
Roots and Shoots
Random Acts of Kindness
HEM’s popular Conferences Calendar will return for 2007 – send your
listing information to EdChief@homeedmag.
this column, and be sure to email a copy to Mary Nix at
HEM Conference Calendar www.homeedmag.
Conference Calendar if you’re looking for a speaker at your next
conference -current speakers listed include Jeanne Faulconer, Patrick
Farenga, Marsha Ransom and Diane Flynn Keith!
H.O.M.E. Proudly Presents Wisconsin’s First-Ever Unschooling Conference!
Trusting Our Children, Trusting Ourselves
Living and Learning in John Holt’s Legacy
Join us for a day to learn, celebrate and share the joy of being free of
institutionalized learning! Gather with a like-minded community which
supports freedom from curriculums and external authority over what and
you and your family choose to learn. Contribute your experiences to the
eclectic mix of learners and learning environments.
We welcome all who are interested in, committed to, or curious about
unschooling to attend. It is our intention and hope to strengthen and
promote the idea that learning is part of life – for our whole lives;
that learning is natural and unavoidable. Learning happens all the time!
*DISCOVER, or re-acquaint yourself with the philosophies of John Holt,
Father of unschooling,
*RECOMMIT to the unschooling lifestyle for yourselves and your children,
*EXPLORE the richness offered by home and community-based life-long
*REINFORCE your freedom to choose to pursue learning outside the
confines of schedules, curriculums, and external expectations and
*CONNECT with others who enthusiastically support self-directed
*SHARE your learning experiences,
*RECEIVE guidance for challenges,
*SUPPORT the conference sponsors.
BE PART OF HISTORY; DON’T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE PART OF THE
WISCONSIN’S FIRST-EVER UNSCHOOLING CONFERENCE!
Saturday, February 10, 2007
8AM – 4PM
Meriter Hospital Community Learning Center
202 S. Park Street
Click here for registration information.
HENA 2007 CONFERENCE
Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5pm
February 24-25, 2007
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Bring the whole family to attend the conference and enjoy the workshops!
Discounts for 2006 HENA members and for early registration.
Wisconsin Parents Association’
May 4-5, 2007–Wisconsin Parents Association’
Education Conference and Curriculum Fair. "Homeschooling: Experience the
Adventure." New location with lots of new opportunities at the
University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. Over 75 workshops on homeschooling
for new and experienced homeschoolers and family activities for all
ages. Meet other homeschoolers in CONNECTIONS. Social events include a
folk dance, social hours, and an all-you-can-
affordable college dorm room in the conference center or enjoy special
rates at a local motel. Come early or stay after the conference to
explore opportunities in Oshkosh including museums and parks. Make it a
great get-away weekend for yourself or share it with your spouse,
friends, or your whole family. <http://www.homescho
conference registration packet, call 608-283-3131.
The Cincinnati Homeschool Convention is a three-day (March 22-24, 2006)
event devoted to the display, discussion and sale of the very best in
educational materials and curriculum. And, features an incredible group
of speakers that will instruct, inspire and encourage.
Please see http://www.Cincinna
California Homeschool Network Family Expo
August 10,11, & 12, 2007
Ontario Marriott Hotel – for the first time, we’re holding all
meetings and activities at the conference hotel to make it easier for
our families. With everything under one roof, we’re looking forward
to an extended three day family homeschooling weekend!
There are sessions for adults, grandparents, and children, and a high
school graduation ceremony. Grandparents are always invited to
accompany their family for free so that they can learn about
Registrations are being accepted now, and all details are on the CHN
Visit HEM’s Conference Calendar at
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HEM’s free Pocket Guide to Homeschooling provides convenient portable
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WEB UPDATES, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESOURCES
From the Goza family:
Greetings from the ever-nomadic Goza family "road schoolers",
Our family/national touring theatre "Act!vated Storytellers" will be
performing public shows at libraries in New Mexico and Mississippi this
winter. (We are also scheduled to appear at a ton of libraries from
Arkansas to Massachusetts this summer). Most of our shows are at schools
during the this time of year but I wanted to get the word out and invite
you to these:
* Wed Jan 17th at 3:00 pm "Quizzical Quests" at the Loma Colorado
Library (the NEW LIBRARY near Rio Rancho High School) 755 Loma Colorado,
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
* Thur Feb.. 1 at 6:00 pm "Quizzical Quests" at the Laurel-Jones County
Library, 530 Commerce St, Laurel, Mississippi
The shows are free and open to the public and enjoyed by all ages (even
babies and teens!). We will be performing two multicultural folktales
before our large oversized book with physical comedy, a grown woman
squeezing through a tennis racket, fun costumes, parts for kids and
American Sign Language thrown in. Kids age 6 and up come a half-hour
early to be in the show.
It make us happy if you pass this on. Press releases, more information
and complete tour schedule are available on our web site
Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza http://www.activate
The ever-nomadic Act!vated Storytellers are in Albuquerque, NM –
next show at the new library in Rio Rancho 1/17
* This week’s Act!vated Audio Story is "The Iron Dragon"; Listen:
New and improved News and Commentary Blog
Never let it be said that the NewsComm blog doesn’t keep up with
blogging trends and technology. Your faithful NewsComm staff, the HEM
Publishers, and Yours Truly, want to bring you more homeschooling news,
and more homeschooling viewpoints. To do this, the NewsComm blog will
now feature more writers, and more news coverage. You can look forward
to reading blog posts by
* Mary Nix
* Susan Ryan
* Jeanne Faulconer
* Sandi Chelan
* Helen Hegener
* Mark Hegener
As I was never able to achieve my childhood fantasy of becoming like
favorite character in the Legion of Super Heroes
talent of being able to be in two — or three – places at once, I
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Congratulations Spunky! As I announced last month, Spunky (Karen
Braun), creator of spunkyhomeschool announced that she was
leaving Spunky Homeschool behind and moving on to new opportunities.
Shortly after she announced she would no longer be blogging, she was
nominated by the Weblog Awards 2006 for the Best Educational Blog. As
you can see here Spunky earned a very respectable second place! I hope you will keep in
To find the latest Carnival of Homeschooling, visit Why Homeschool and click on their link, latest
Current CoH .
Consent Of The Governed ; Featuring information you need to know before
you consent.., is a new blog by Judy Aron. The url is
"The Homeschool Buyers Co-op offers a Local Discount feature that allows
home educators to enter their zipcode and find vendors who are offering
them discounts. To access this tool, visit -
and The Homeschool Buyers Co-op recently announced a new discount book
for New England, Family Resource Learning Book, New England – that can
be accessed here: http://www.homescho
own free blog and to network and support one another. If you’ve ever
thought of starting a blog to journal your homeschooling adventures, now
is a great time to start ~ Visit them here
learn more .
Stillwater Homeschool Alliance ~Building Understanding and Perspective
* February – North Houston Charlotte Mason Support Group
* March – Carol Topp – Insurance for Homeschool Groups
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Thanks for taking the time to read this month’s newsletter. I hope you
enjoyed traveling to Scotland to meet Alison Preuss to learn more about
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