Also available in PDF


Also available in PDF
Vol. XXIX, No. 4
{The Home School Court Report }
Autumn 2013
common Core:
Thackers win
at nebraska
supreme court
A golden
grandparents & homeschooling
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
The Bible tells us that in the last days, people will be
selfish, abusive, ungrateful, slanderous, and without
love (1 Timothy 3). He sees it every day on the TV
programs he watches, in the news he hears, and in
what he reads on the Internet. Will he grow up to
become salt and light to the world or merely part of
the problem?
Prepare your children to make a real difference in
the lives of others by teaching them to see the world
around them through the unerring lens of God’s Word.
Give them a strong foundation and clear biblical
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Beautifully illustrated and written in a conversational
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a generous heart and courageous spirit to share the
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“Excellent, Bible-rich worldview curriculum.”
World Magazine
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autumn 2013 issue
{ Table of Contents }
COVER STORY A golden heritage: Grandparents and homeschooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
• Resources & ideas for
grandparents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
SPECIAL FEATURE The dawning database:
Does the Common Core lead to national data
collection? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Columns &
IN STOCK 2014 graduation gear • High
school transcript service • Laminated wallet
diploma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Chairman’s View The core problem . . . . . 6
From the heart Inspiring hope . . . . . . . . 16
• From the director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
• Get/give support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
• The homeschool starter kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
• Photo contest winners! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Across the states
• California, Colorado, Florida . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
• Hawaii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
• Indiana, Iowa, Kansas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
• Kentucky, Maine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
• Maryland, Michigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
• Minnesota, Mississippi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
• Missouri, New Hampshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
• New Mexico, New York . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
• Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
• Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas,
Utah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
• Virginia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
• Washington . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
• Wisconsin, Wyoming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Freedom Watch Congressmen encourage homeschool leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Active cases
• Nebraska—State of Nebraska v.
Thacker Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
• Utah—In re: H Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
The Inside scoop The power of a
mouse click . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
• In memoriam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Getting There Electives and extracurriculars: What’s the difference? . . . . . . . . . 40
• Here for you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
About campus Alumni scholarship
sends students abroad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
The Last word The next 30 years . . . . . . 46
and the rest
Prayer & Praise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
A contrario sensu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Good to know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
HSLDA legal inquiries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Pending cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Member Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
HSLDA Speaking list . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Advertiser’s index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Publisher HSLDA
Chairman Michael P. Farris, JD, LLM
President J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Editor Suzanne Stephens
Assistant Editors Grace Matte, Lee Ann
Bisulca, Peter Forbes, Peter Schellhase
Graphic Designers Todd Metzgar, Noelle
Blankenship, Rachel Parker
HSLDA Attorneys Michael P. Farris, J. Michael
Smith, Dewitt T. Black III, Scott A. Woodruff,
Darren A. Jones, James R. Mason III, Thomas
J. Schmidt, Michael P. Donnelly, William A.
Estrada, Peter K. Kamakawiwoole
Address P.O. Box 3000,
Purcellville, VA 20134
Shipping Address One Patrick Henry Circle,
Purcellville, VA 20132
Phone 540-338-5600
Fax 540-338-2733
Email [email protected]
Disclaimer The articles contained in this
publication have been prepared for and are
intended to provide information that may
be useful to members of the Home School
Legal Defense Association. The Association
does not necessarily warrant this information. The reader must evaluate this information in light of the unique circumstances of
any particular situation and must determine
independently the applicability of this information thereto.
Copyright © 2013 by the Home School Legal
Defense Association.
The Home School Court Report (ISSN 15393747) (USPS 020294) is published quarterly
by Home School Legal Defense Association,
One Patrick Henry Circle, Purcellville, VA
20132-3197. Periodical postage paid at
Purcellville, VA, and additional entries.
Postmaster: Send address changes to the
Home School Court Report, P.O. Box 3000,
Purcellville, VA 20134-9000.
Scripture Version Unless otherwise noted,
all Scripture quotations are from the NKJV.
Columnists The views of guest columnists do
not necessarily reflect the views of HSLDA.
cover: © comstock
Article Submissions See Court Report guidelines at
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
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The Common Core is a problem—but
it is not the core problem facing
educational freedom. The real problem is
the federal government exercising power
in two ways never
intended by the framers of the Constitution—and the Common Core perfectly
illustrates this.
The only reason
that states so quickly
enacted the Common
Michael Farris
Core was that the U.S.
Department of Education (DOE) enticed
them with the promise of substantial federal dollars in extra aid. Congress did not
specifically authorize the Common Core;
the decision was made by the DOE.
This prompts two constitutional
>>Does Congress have the authority
to spend money for purposes
beyond its enumerated powers
and to use that money to coax the
states into doing its will?
>>Does the Department of Education
have the authority to make policy
If we consult current Supreme Court
precedent, the answer to both questions is
yes. Congress has this authority. And the
Department of Education can make such
policy decisions.
However, there are two fair observations that can be made about the Supreme
Court. First, Supreme Court rulings are
not necessarily correct if we evaluate
them according to the original meaning
of the Constitution. Second, just because
the Supreme Court says things are a
© hslda
by Michael P. Farris
James Madison
Alexander Hamilton
Supreme Court rulings are not necessarily
correct if we evaluate them according
to the original meaning of the Constitution.
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
The core problem
certain way does not mean this is the way
they should be.
If we consult the framers of the Constitution, the Supreme Court is just plain
wrong on the first part of the first question. James Madison believed (as the Court
itself acknowledges) that the General
Welfare Clause was not an independent
grant of spending power. And the Court
acknowledges that if Madison’s view were
followed, programs like the Common
Core would be unconstitutional. In fact,
the entire Department of Education would
be unconstitutional, other than its military
education functions.
But the Court follows the views of
Alexander Hamilton, even though his
views were clearly in the minority during
the ratification debates. On top of this,
the Court mischaracterizes Hamilton’s
position, claiming that he believed the
General Welfare Clause allowed the
federal government to spend money on
whatever it wanted. The Constitution
would not have been ratified if Hamilton
or anyone else had claimed that this
clause gives Congress the power to spend
money on any subject whatever.
Hamilton’s actual view was this: the
General Welfare Clause gave Congress a
new enumerated power to spend money
for national purposes, provided that the
states have no power to spend money
for the same purposes.
So, the correct answer is really simple.
Do the states have the power to spend
money for education? Yes, of course—that
is established by every state constitution.
{ Chairman’s View }
Accordingly, Hamilton would reach the
same conclusion as Madison: Congress
cannot spend money for education—
But there is an additional constitutional
problem with this congressional spending
plan. Congress is using tax money (borrowed from the taxpayers of the future) to
bribe the states into doing its will.
The Constitution requires Congress
to guarantee that the states will follow a
republican form of government. What
is a republican form of government?
It means the government of state A is
elected by the voters of state A and is
responsible only to them.
Legislators in Georgia should follow
the will of voters in Georgia. Legislators
in Oregon should follow the will of
voters in Oregon. It violates the principle
of a republican form of government to
force the state legislators in Georgia or
Oregon to follow the will of Congress
instead of the voters in their own states.
This is a double violation. Congress is
usurping power that belongs to the states
and it is also denying the people their
right to a republican form of government
at the state level.
Now we turn to the second question—
does the Department of Education have
A word from mike farris
the power to make policy decisions such
as funding the Common Core?
Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution gives us the answer. All legislative
power is given to Congress. The executive
branch—including executive agencies like
the Department of Education—is not supposed to legislate. Executive agencies have
legitimate authority to administer the law
by establishing procedural rules, deadlines, forms, and the like. But the DOE’s
decision to fund the Common Core was a
substantive policy decision, not a ministerial decision—and it rightfully belonged
in Congress, because policy decisions are
the essence of legislation.
If the people don’t like a decision
of Congress, they can vote the rascals
out. But they can’t vote out those at the
Department of Education who decided
to fund the Common Core.
The very best way to determine
what is a legislative decision is to
ask this question: is this the kind of
decision that should be made by
those who are directly responsible
to the people? It is beyond debate
that the public wants to be heard
on the Common Core.
responsible to the
people—should have been the one deciding whether to fund the Common Core,
not the executive branch.
How do we fix these core problems?
Ronald Reagan wanted to disband the
U.S. Department of Education. It never
happened. Why not? Washington, D.C.,
never gives back power. Ever.
We cannot rely on Washington to curtail its own constitutional abuses. We can’t
rely on the White House. We can’t rely on
Congress. These things are true no matter
which party is in control. We can’t expect
the Supreme Court to stop Congress from
holding an improper view of its power
because the Court has consistently held an
expansive view of federal power.
I have been engaged in the contest for
liberty for over 30 years in legislatures and
courts. I am convinced that we cannot
stay on the path of gradual decline and
hope that somehow liberty will emerge
{Prayer & Praise}
Bless the Lord for grandparents who
celebrate and participate in their
children’s homeschooling endeavors.
Pray that all families and grandparents
would be enabled to honor, love, and
encourage one another and work supportively through conflict. (See cover
story, page 10.)
Praise God for alert homeschooling
families who stand up for their
rights—working together with support
groups, homeschool organizations, and
HSLDA—while faithfully educating their
children. Ask the Lord to help HSLDA
attorneys clarify misunderstandings
and resolve disagreements with school
officials and other authorities, and
to protect families’ 4th Amendment,
homeschooling, and parental rights.
(See “Across the States,” page 18.)
Pray for HSLDA’s litigation team as they
defend our member families in court
and file advocacy cases on behalf of
homeschooling. (See “Active Cases,”
page 34.)
Thank God for national leaders who
support homeschooling and educational
freedom. Pray that homeschoolers
would continue building positive
relationships with lawmakers. (See
“Freedom Watch,” page 32.)
Lift up parents homeschooling children
with special learning needs—ask that
they would have the needed finances,
resources, and emotional support to
develop their children’s unique gifts
and help them thrive academically. (See
“From the Heart,” page 16.)
Pray for the next 30 years of homeschooling. Ask God to protect homeschooling in the courts and legislatures;
strengthen relationships between parents and their children; pour out wisdom
and humility on leaders; and multiply the
resources available to home educators.
(See “The Last Word,” page 46.)
My soul magnifies the Lord, / And my
spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior /
. . . For He who is mighty has done great
things for me, / And holy is His name.
— Luke 1:46b–47, 49
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
See this?
Over 80,000 homeschool families do. So
why isn’t your advertisement here?
To advertise in the Home School Court Report, contact Advertising at 540-338-8605.
December 30–January 3 Margin for Moms: An Interview
with Carol Barnier (Host: Mike Smith)
January 5–9 SAT and ACT Test Prep: An Interview
with Diane Kummer (Host: Mike Smith)
January 13–17 Kicked Out of the Maternity Ward:
An Interview with Jodi Ferris (Host: Mike Farris)
January 20–24 Celebrating Latino Heritage:
An Interview with Monica Olivera (Host: Mike Smith)
January 27–31 Teaching Math: An Interview
with Dr. Fred Worth (Host: Mike Smith)
victorious. We have to take aim at the
heart of the beast and seek the kind of
structural changes that return this country
to the proper sense of checks and balances
and limited power. The method for doing
this is found in the Constitution itself.
George Mason rose at the Constitutional Convention to give us the solution
to federal overreach that we need today.
He contended that, for such a solution, it
“would be improper to require the consent of the Natl. Legislature [Congress],
because they may abuse their power, and
refuse their consent on that very account.”
Mason added that “no amendments of the
proper kind would ever be obtained by the
people, if the Government should become
oppressive.” In response to these concerns,
the convention unanimously voted to add
language to the Constitution allowing
states to directly amend the document.
This is done via a convention of states.
In a convention of states (analogous to
a convention of nations in international
law), each state has just one vote. Thirtyfour states must apply to Congress to hold
a convention for an agreed purpose. Then
26 states must approve particular amendments at the convention. Finally, 38 states
must ratify any amendments before they
are added to the Constitution. Neither
Congress nor the White House has any
discretionary power over this process.
The convention of states project I am
now helping to lead is essentially identical
to Mark Levin’s proposal in The Liberty
Amendments. The plan requires 3,000 state
legislative districts to have real grassroots
organizations urging their legislatures to
act. If we want to ensure that our children
are not enslaved in debt and if we want to
halt the illicit power of Washington, D.C.,
this is the only plan that makes sense to me
after 36 years of constitutional litigation.
A team of Patrick Henry College
graduates are the key staffers at convention If you and your family want
to stop not only the Common Core, but
all related abuses of federal power, I would
strongly encourage you to go to the website and get involved today. n
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
{ Special Feature }
The dawning database
Does the Common Core lead
to national data collection?
by Will Estrada and Katie Tipton
The U.S. Department of Education
(DOE) is prohibited by law from creating
a national data system.* But the Education
Science Reform Act of 2002 gave the federal
government the authority to publish guidelines for states developing state longitudinal
data systems (SLDS).* Over the past decade,
a slew of new federal incentives and federally
funded data models has spurred states to
monitor students’ early years, performance
in college, and success in the workforce by
following “individuals systematically and
efficiently across state lines.” * Home School
Legal Defense Association believes that this
expansion of state databases is laying the
foundation for a national database filled with
personal student data.
HSLDA has long opposed the creation of
such a database. We believe that it would
threaten the privacy of students, be susceptible to abuse by government officials or business interests, and jeopardize student safety.
We believe that detailed data systems are not
necessary to educate young people. Education should not be an Orwellian attempt
to track students from preschool through
assimilation into the workforce.
At this point, it does not appear that the
data of students who are educated in homeschools or private schools are being included
in these databases. But HSLDA is concerned
that it will become increasingly difficult to
protect the personal information of homeschool and private school students as these
databases grow. Oklahoma’s P–20 Council
has already called for databases to include
the personal data of homeschool students.*
The development of a national database
The DOE laid the foundation for a nationally linkable, comprehensive database in January 2012 when it promulgated regulations
altering the Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA formerly guaranteed that parents could access their children’s
personally identifiable information collected
by schools, but schools were barred from
sharing this information with third parties. *
Personally identifiable information is defined
by FERPA as information “that would allow a
reasonable person in the school community,
who does not have personal knowledge of
the relevant circumstances, to identify the
student with reasonable certainty,” including names of family members, living address,
Social Security number, date and place of
birth, disciplinary record, and biometric
record.* However, the Department of Education has reshaped FERPA through regulations
so that any government or private entity that
the department says is evaluating an education program has access to students’ personally identifiable information. * Postsecondary
institutes and workforce education programs
can also be given this data. This regulatory
of Education and overseen by the Council
for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one
of the organizations that created the Common Core.* According to the NEDM website,
18 states and numerous local educational
agencies are using this model for their state
longitudinal databases. In addition, numerous states are still following other database
models such as the Data Quality Campaign’s
10 Essential Elements, the State Core Data
Set, the Common Education Data Standards,
and the Schools Interoperability Framework, an initiative that received $6 million
of federal funding in Massachusetts alone.*
Concentrating data collection around a few
models means that states are getting closer
and closer to keeping the same data and
using the same interoperable technology to
store it. Forty-six states currently have databases that can track students from preschool
through the workforce.*
Driving the data collection
In addition to funding data models, the
federal government has driven a national
database through legislation. The 2009
federal stimulus bill created the State Fiscal
Stabilization Fund as “a new one-time appropriation of $53.6 billion.” * With this money,
the Department of Education gave money to
states who would commit to develop and use
prekindergarten through postsecondary and
career data systems, among other criteria.
Additionally, $4.35 billion was given to
make competitive grants under the new
We believe that
detailed data systems are
not necessary to
educate young people.
change absent congressional legislation has
resulted in a lawsuit against the DOE, though
a judge in the U.S. District Court for D.C. dismissed the suit on an issue of standing.*
Guidelines for building SLDS that can
collect and link personally identifiable
information across state lines have been
released by task forces funded by both the
DOE and special-interest groups. Many of
these recommendations were compiled in
the National Education Data Model (NEDM)
v. 3.0, a project funded by the Department
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
Race to the Top (RTTT) challenge.* RTTT is an
ongoing competition for federal funds that
awards tax dollars to states that promise to
make certain changes in their state education policy, including adopting the Common
Core. Every state that agrees to the Common
Core in order to receive RTTT funding also
commits “to design, develop, and implement
statewide P–20 [preschool through workforce] longitudinal data systems” that can
be used in part or in whole by other states.*
continued on page 38
Cover story
© ban anas toc
A golden
& homeschooling
Compiled by Olivia Kight & Lee Ann Bisulca This year, in celebration of HSLDA’s 30th anniversary, the
Court Report took a yearlong look at some of the faces of home education. Homeschooling has come far in the
past three decades! But one thing hasn’t changed. Homeschooling still integrates learning into all of life, and allows
children to be educated in a relational context. This cover story focuses on some people who have a special appreciation for that benefit: grandparents.
In these pages, we feature five grandparents who have shared their perspectives on homeschooling and the
creative ways they’ve found to be involved in their grandchildren’s home education. If you’re the grandparent of
a homeschooler, we hope you’ll share your experience with us, too! Tell us the benefits you see in homeschooling
and how you participate in your grandchildren’s learning. Email your thoughts to us at [email protected] We
may feature your response on HSLDA’s Homeschooling Now blog!
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
son took to the poetry section. I gave him a journal for
his poems, and he occasionally recites them, to everyone’s
delight. He also spends time woodworking with his other
“grampa”—using his hands to create special treasures. And
recently, both my kids’ families escaped to local Christian
campgrounds for a long weekend of painting, hammering,
gardening, playing, and giggling.
Spending time 24/7 with
one’s children is a radical
departure from societal norms.
When I began home teaching,
many friends and family
challenged me: “They won’t be
socialized!” “How can you teach
things you don’t know?” “You’re
pulling them out of school?”
Today I make myself available to
my son and daughter as much as
possible. I take the children when
their parents are going to a homeschool conference or need
adult time—or just because.
I’m very grateful that my children choose to homeschool.
It has given us all the opportunity to shine into each other’s
worlds in extra-special ways.
I’m very
thankful that my
children choose
to homeschool.
— Pamela Caldwell / Orange, CA
courtesy of the family
>> When my husband and I pulled our two children out of
public school to homeschool almost 30 years ago, I didn’t
know we would begin a family legacy. My daughter remembers I would say, “Lock the doors and pull the blinds; no
one leaves the house until the public school is out.” Now,
my 10 grandchildren are taught at home—the oldest is 20
and the youngest is 2. Praise the Lord; America’s homeschoolers no longer have to hide!
Homeschooling fits around schedules and lets everyone
engage in the process, including dads. This is its greatest
benefit. Each child explores his or her favorite interests. Not
being confined to a one-size-fits-all curriculum gives great
flexibility; learning is tailored to each child.
With the varied hours of my faculty position, I’ve spent
much time with my grandchildren. Homeschooling offers
more than everyday academics; life is the blackboard! I
have many opportunities to contribute to my grandchildren’s education and maintain a special relationship with
each one—whether hosting Cousins’ Camp with lots of
nature walks and cooking lessons, providing special writing classes, or working on crafts in the garage.
Everyday events and activities help teach the skills of
building relationships and serving others. When learning
is not connected to a schedule, we can model love, care,
kindness, and excitement
for life around the
clock. Three years ago
on a weekday visit, I
taught my 10-yearold granddaughter
to crochet a simple
chain. She quickly
took up the hook.
She now makes baby
hats for a local hospital’s preemie unit
and Christmas gifts
for cousins. During
my summer writing
workshop, my grand-
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
>> My wife, Janet, and I have 14 grandchildren, six
of whom are homeschooled. As a grandfather and
retired English teacher, I am grateful for the benefits
homeschooling has brought to our lives. Through
home education, my grandchildren’s individual
personalities are addressed; the shared intimacy of
deep learning is much more routine; and I have the
privilege of extending my 38 prior years of teaching to
my own family.
Our daughter handles the major share of homeschooling her six children (ranging in age from 5 to 15).
In the academic area, I assist with writing and associated
language arts. Right now, I am helping the four older
grandchildren with the fundamentals of formal speech.
In addition, my wife and I contribute in the areas of hobbies and associated “values training.” For example, I am
presently passing to my two grandsons the art and skill
of model airplane building and flying. All
aspects of this pursuit require the
virtues of patience and precision, and “fly” in the face of
our instantaneous culture.
It has
brought rich
rewards into
all our lives.
© im
Homeschooling has enabled my daughter and sonin-law to anchor all their teaching in the principle of
love from the moment each child was born. A favorite
question of my daughter and her husband—mostly during times of sibling conflict—is, “Were you loving your
brother or sister when you said or did that?” In a mutual
investment of Christian values, Janet and I are able to
reinforce that specific gospel truth as we interact with
our grandchildren. As with a pump, the “priming” of this
constant spoken enquiry not only pays off at the time, but
will return to guide my grandchildren in future relationships. It is a question we all need to hear and heed!
Knowing how much effort goes into homeschooling,
my wife and I pray for our daughter and her family and
offer emotional support. They need our acknowledgement and affirmation.
Recently I shared with our daughter that I was awed
and sobered by the challenge she faces. To be her children’s parent and teacher is a two-hat challenge that I
never had to face as a public school teacher—but it has
brought rich rewards into all our lives.
— David Woertendyke, Woodstock, GA
co ur tesy
of th e fam
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
>> I am an orchestra director and teacher at
a private school, a freelance musician, and a
mother of four daughters. One of the most
treasured experiences I have had in my life is
to be the “Meema” of 13 grandchildren, seven
of whom are homeschooled at the present time.
Deuteronomy 6:6 states that the commandments the Lord gives are to be on our hearts.
We are to impress them on our children and on
their children. We are to talk about them when
we sit at home, when we walk along the road,
when we lie down, and when we get up. What
is the point of God’s command in this verse? To
me, the Lord is showing how His word—which
teaches about His character (who He is, how He
acts, the relationship He desires to have with
us), the boundaries needed for safety in living,
the boundaries needed for healthy relationships with
each other and the world in which we live, the reasons why
we learn and grow—that word is to be alive and active in
every area of our lives.
Being at a Christian school, I feel blessed to show my students how learning is brought to completeness by God’s word.
My two daughters who homeschool have this opportunity
with their children every day, in every subject they cover. They
have the time, the family interaction, and the
shared core values. They
began this journey six
years ago, “trying it out”
for a year. As they have
watched the growth of
their children, their love
for homeschool education has grown. Learning
hasn’t become an “at school” thing with homework in the
evening, but an ongoing, everyday, all-day experience that is
part of life as they live it.
There are so many benefits to homeschooling, with the
central one being that we have the ability to approach subjects
from a perspective grounded in God’s word. There is safety
in knowing your children are protected from experiences
that hurt their psyches and souls. It is an amazing privilege to
know that your children are not spending eight hours a day
in an environment that could be toxic, but are at home where
they are loved, supported, taught the values of hard work and
There are so
many benefits to
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
court esy of the famil
risk taking, and given the opportunity to learn from mistakes
and move forward with integrity.
I have watched my grandchildren become voracious readers
who value books and their impact. I have watched them get
together with other families for art days, their artwork filling
the walls of their local library. On music days, they listen to
symphonies, practice conducting to music, dance, and learn
patterns of rhythm. I have listened to them tie God’s word
into a lesson they are learning, as they explain it to me over
our weekly family dinner together. Through their involvement
in church, karate, gymnastics, travel baseball, basketball, and
dance classes, they are learning the value of hard work and
cooperation with others.
I have had the pleasure of participating in my grandchildren’s education by teaching piano to six of them. This past
June, I went to our state homeschool convention with my
daughters, son-in-law, and three grandkids. It was so important both to them and to me to hear the speakers and talk
through together what was being said.
I am so deeply proud of my daughters for having the courage
to take this path of education, for handling criticism of their
choices with dignity and grace, and for constantly moving
forward, learning, and adjusting to give their children an education that brings heart knowledge as well as head knowledge.
Our children are our future. I am filled with joy when I
think about the character and love for learning my grandchildren have developed, knowing that one day they will be able
to use their education to better the world.
— Gail Salvatori, Glen Ellyn, IL
>> I was reluctant to support our daughter when she pulled her children
out of public school to homeschool nine years ago. I felt they wouldn’t
receive a quality education and would lack social skills.
Our daughter proved me very wrong. She did her research and has
helped her children excel in ways they never would have in public school.
In public school, what works for one child must work for all children
within a classroom and, ultimately, within the whole school system. Our
daughter has been able to find and use curriculum that is perfect for
each individual child, supporting his or her learning style. She has found
friends within other homeschool groups so that our grandchildren have a
social life. And our grandchildren have been taught manners, respect for
others, and a love of learning that I believe they would never have been
taught in public school.
Our grandchildren are bright, healthy, well-educated young people
who are comfortable socializing with their peers and adults. I feel that
is a result of homeschooling!
To me, the three greatest benefits of
homeschooling for our grandchildren have
been: individual attention to each child during school time; teaching built around each
child’s learning style—including flexibility
in teaching time (not everyone is a morning
person!); and freedom to choose quality
curriculum that suits each child’s learning
needs and includes natural learning (use of
the outside world) as well as book learning.
Kent and I have a special closeness with
our five grandchildren. Because they are homeschooled and live near us
(with the exception of the oldest, who has graduated and is in the Army),
we are able to be with them more often. They are finished with their
schooling by the time I get off work in the afternoon. I can pick them up,
have quality time with them, and still have them back home by their bedtime. Their school schedule is flexible so that we can take in fun activities at
any time of the day or week and not just after public school lets out. Because
of this flexible schedule, my husband and I can often pick them up on Friday,
our day off, and spend the day with one or all of them. It’s a win-win!
I have been involved in teaching my grandchildren music, and I am
also available for tutoring if they are having difficulty with a subject in
which I have knowledge. My husband is a professional tutor in math and
helps them when they are having difficulties, and I also accompany them
on school field trips. In addition, we help out financially as we are able.
We love our grandchildren for who they are, each with his or her own
unique personality. We’re so happy that homeschooling has enabled each
one to develop that individuality to the fullest.
I’m very
thankful that my
children choose
to homeschool.
courtesy of the family
— Jean Elhoffer, Hobgood, NC
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
>> Our family is one of those dual-generation
homeschool families: my husband Markus
and I have been homeschooling our son for 10
years. Meanwhile our daughter and her husband have three sons whom they have always
homeschooled. It has been an interesting experience to be not only raising boys at the same
time but also homeschooling them.
Our daughter was not homeschooled but
attended a private Christian high school. We
started to homeschool when our son reached
kindergarten age, because he would have had
an hour-long bus ride to school every morning.
It was easy and fun and offered us so much
freedom from a school agenda that we just
Our first grandson was born with spina
bifida. As he grew older, our daughter and
son-in-law were very concerned about his ability to do well in public school. Although our
daughter was initially hesitant to homeschool
because she didn’t feel confident about her
teaching ability, she soon discovered she was
an effective educator and now homeschools all
three of her boys.
To me, the three greatest benefits of homeschooling I have seen in my grandchildren’s
lives are the unhindered freedom to learn, the
opportunity to be taught in a setting where
faith is of foremost importance, and the experience of learning all the time—with homeschooling, learning is living and vice versa.
Because Markus and I live 350 miles away
from our daughter, we don’t get to help school
our grandsons, but we have always tried to keep
a steady supply of books, activities, games, and
learning tools flowing to their home. Our son’s
old curricula or supplies are often passed down
to his nephews. This past April, I drove across
the state to stay with my grandsons for three
days while their parents attended the Minnesota homeschool conference. That gave us
time to do art together and their parents time
We have always tried to keep a steady
supply of books, activities, games, and
learning tools flowing to their home.
to rejuvenate and be encouraged.
My son and I start each school day by praying
for his sister’s family. My husband and I try to
listen and provide lots of encouragement on
stressful days. We encourage the boys to learn
and do well, and we try to pass on the support
we glean from other homeschoolers. We don’t
criticize. When you teach, you learn that all kids
are different and all parents are different. While
we fail sometimes, more often we succeed!
I am so thankful to be able to homeschool
our own son, and I couldn’t be prouder of our
daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons.
— Candy Erk Manthey, Rapid City, SD
& ideas for
>>“Home Schooling: Grandparents Can Help” by Kevin
Miller (
>>“A Grand Idea: How Grandparents Can Take Part
in Homeschooling” by
Andrea Longbottom,
July/August 2010 Home
School Court Report (hslda
courtesy of the family
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
the home school foundation
{ From the Heart }
by Dianne Becker
Parents who homeschool children
with special learning needs know
how crucial a hopeful perspective can
be in their family’s ability to face challenges. Restricted diets, specialized
household items, and visits to doctors
and therapists can present an imposing
financial hardship.
“We resigned from the mission
field to focus on finding resources
to help our son,” one Special Needs
Children’s Fund applicant wrote to
the Home School Foundation. She
explained that it was difficult for her
other children to “understand their
sibling’s medical issues and empathize.
From the director
© hslda / Art cox
James warns against sending needy
people away empty-handed while
dismissively telling them, “Be warmed
and filled” (James
2:16), which, in
terms, could
mean, “Hope that
works out for
If it’s in our
power to do anyHSF Director
thing to bless a
Chuck Hurst
person in need, we
should do it. This is one way to show our
faith by our deeds.
Understandably, the Foundation has
guidelines for grant eligibility. Sometimes
we need to tell people, “We’re sorry, but
you don’t qualify.” More often, however,
the answer is “You don’t qualify yet” or
“The fund you qualify for is not open for
enrollment for a few months.”
It’s hard to tell hurting families we
can’t help them—especially since
>> For more
help, please
visit homes
[email protected]
>> If you are
employee o
of the milita
HSF the ben
of your Com
donation. H
more inform
Inspiring hope
There is a lot of
and hurt feelings.”
However, in spite
of these hardships,
many grant recipient families have
found a special
perspective in
hope: hope that
recognizes the true
source of healing
and the power of a
helping hand.
One family
explained how this
hope is being fulfilled for them:
{ Get/
We believe that [our daughter]
Tracy has excelled beyond her
we know that they need more than
financial assistance. They need some
That’s why we are so delighted to
share an initiative called “Homeschool
Starter Kits.” To families who are not
yet eligible for a grant, we can now
send a box filled with school supplies
to provide immediate assistance and
Cheryl, a recent kit recipient, told us,
“I received the wonderful things you
sent to me for homeschooling and cried
tears of joy! That you thought of me is
so very kind. I’ve been praying for God
to . . . provide for me to homeschool
Joseph . . . God bless you!”
For a gift of $40, you can send a
starter kit to a struggling fellow
homeschooler and demonstrate
your faith to someone in need. Go to
to donate today.
family e
peers who have the same
disability, not because
she was less affected, but
because of the opportunities
for learning and therapy that
have been afforded her by the
Home School Foundation and the
services of [her doctor].
Tracy’s parents are an example of
how zealous families are to share this
hope with fellow homeschoolers. They
went on to say, “We hope that we will be
able to shock everyone with Tracy’s ability to overcome her challenges, and in
The Homescho
Starter Kit
A great
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
/give Support
photo contest
e details on how you can
e call HSF at 540-338-8688,, or email
HSLDA is pleased to announce the winners of its ninth annual photography contest
for homeschooled students! Young people from across the country were invited to
submit photographs based on the theme assigned to their age category.
Congratulations to the winners and finalists, as well
as the many other students whose imaginative photos
delighted, entertained, and moved us.
Proceeds from the contest will bless many homeYou may view all of the
schooling families through the Home School Foundation.
e a federal
or a member
ary, make
mbined Federal Campaign
HSF’s CFC number is 10535. For
mation, visit
hope is
g fulfilled
doing so,
show other
parents . . .
that the only
limitation to what
they and their children
can accomplish is how
far, in their own minds,
they believe that they
can go.” n
winning entries at
Category 1 (ages 7–10)
TOPIC: My favorite
1st place
Amy Patten
Category 2 (ages 11–14)
TOPIC: My world
Dianne Becker is a grant
administrator and contest
coordinator at the Home
School Foundation.
1st place
Deirdre Moylan
For just $40, you can bless
a family as they start their
homeschooling journey! Each
kit contains a variety of helpful
resources that are perfect for
a new homeschooler with little
money. Actual contents may vary
slightly from picture.
First place Deirdre Moylan, Tucson, AZ
Second place Krista Frodigh, Annandale, VA
Third place Cabe Dey, New Bloomfield, MO
Honorable mention Janna Klein, Burton, OH;
Natalie Morgan, Sanford, FL
Finalists Natalea Andersen, Brigid Baugh,
Michaela Bertic, Abigail LePage, Ivy Mayhew,
Conor McNamara, Natalie Morgan, Deirdre Moylan,
Lina Nahnas, Ben Patten, Morgan Readling,
Dawson Rogers, Ashley Shrader, Timothy Shumate,
John Simmons, Jr., Danny Tipton
Category 3 (ages 15–19)
TopiC: My perspective
way to help a new
eschooler start strong!
First place Amy Patten, Plover, WI
Second place Annemarie Haas, Oakton, VA
Third place Emma Edler, Clarksville, TN
Honorable mention Haden Barr, Midlothian, VA;
Martha Montgomery, Saint Charles, MO
Finalists Noah Brand, Caden Elliott,
Julia Hubbarb, Emma Jefferson, Eva Lee,
Jared Minagawa, Kelsey Paap, Jordan Readling,
Jade Robinson, Claire Smith, Joshua Tate,
Lydia Van Farowe, Davis Ward, Katherine Wells
1st place
Emily Erickson
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
First place Emily Erickson, Colorado Springs, CO
Second place Paul Vermeesch, Charlevois, MI
Third place Abby Tran, Rice, VA
Honorable mention Elizabeth Krohn, West
Rutland, VT; Julie Platt, Little Egg Harbor, NJ
Finalists Patrick Blaisure, Adam DeBacker,
Ellie Hooper, Karinna Johnston, Natalie Larson,
Kalena Otsubo, Cherilyn Rainer, Lexi Rockwell,
Lilly Smith, Kennedee True, Paul Vermeesch,
Kylee Waswick
Legal & Legislative updates
{ Across the States }
Learning disabilities
trigger truancy
by J. Michael Smith
Are parents allowed to homeschool
children with special needs in the
state of California? Certainly! However,
as a number of families have experienced,
public schools will at times tell parents
they cannot withdraw their child
with special needs
to homeschool. One
of our member
families in Yuba
County began
homeschooling in
the fall of 2012, yet it wasn’t until January
2013 that the public school ceased to pursue truancy proceedings against them.
The family’s 11th-grade son began the
school year attending public school, but
his parents became concerned because
he was not receiving the attention he
needed in his special education classes.
During this time, they had repeated
discussions with the school about
their concerns and began investigating
homeschooling as an alternative. Despite
the Individualized Education Plan team
strongly insisting that homeschooling
wasn’t an option, the family withdrew
their son from school in October to meet
his needs privately at home. The family
filed a private school affidavit in order to
homeschool under California’s private
school option.
In December, a truant officer sent
from the school district visited the family’s home and then sent a summons for
their son’s alleged truancy. The family
contacted Home School Legal Defense
Association for legal assistance.
HSLDA immediately called and spoke
with the truant officer, explaining that
the family’s son was not truant because
he was being homeschooled in full
compliance with California law. Five
minutes later, the truant officer called
back and said that the court hearing had
been changed to a review by the school
attendance review board. But after we
followed up with a letter reiterating the
family’s right to homeschool, the school
canceled the review.
HSLDA’s mission is to protect the
rights of parents to direct the education
of their children, including children with
learning disabilities or special needs. We
are committed to providing legal counsel
to our member families who encounter
difficulties with the public school. For
numerous resources on homeschooling
children with special needs, see “Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner” at
{ A contrario sensu }
on the other hand
Send your story about why
homeschooling is the best!
We are looking for humorous, warm
anecdotes and true stories illustrating
that homeschooling is the best educational alternative around.
All material printed in the Court
Report will be credited, and the
contributor will receive a $10 coupon
good toward any HSLDA publication
of his choice. Submissions may be
edited for space. Please be aware that
we cannot return photographs.
Mail submissions to:
Stories, HSLDA
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134
Parents’ medical
decisions restricted
by Michael P. Donnelly
During its 2013 general session,
the Colorado General Assembly
passed House Bill 1111 and Senate Bill
215, which imposed new and extensive
regulatory frameworks governing
homeopathic and
naturopathic medicine. Home School
Legal Defense Association opposed
these bills because
they restrict parents
from taking their
children to the medical provider of their
choice. HSLDA has been told that there
are plans to further limit parental
authority and medical decision making
in Colorado by restricting the personal
exemption for vaccinations.
HSLDA believes that medical
decision making is a basic parental
right. Parents often know and understand their children’s needs in a way
that no one else can.
We encourage Colorado homeschoolers to stay informed about developments
in the legislature that could affect their
freedom to make decisions for their
children. A legislature willing to restrict
parents’ rights to make medical decisions might feel empowered to further
restrict their rights to make educational
decisions. HSLDA will watch these issues
closely to keep you informed.
Family harassed
over delayed
test results
by Thomas J. Schmidt
Or email us (include “Stories” in the
subject line) at:
[email protected]
Late in the 2012–13 school year, a
Home School Legal Defense Association member family in the Bay District Schools area contacted us after
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
receiving a letter from the district stating
that they must
enroll their child in
public school
within three days.
The letter said that
the family was out
of compliance with
Florida law since
they had not submitted their child’s
annual assessment.
The family explained to HSLDA that
their child had taken a standardized
achievement test less than one year from
the date they reported the beginning of
their home education program. The test
was administered by a certified teacher
through a local private school, but the
school had not yet sent the results. The
family had been regularly notifying
district school officials about the status
of the test results. They had received no
warning that the district was going to
take such a threatening position.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Darren Jones
immediately replied to the Bay District
letter. He informed the district that
while parents are required to assess their
child’s progress on at least an annual
basis, they cannot be prevented from
homeschooling because the results are
not sent to them in a timely manner.
HSLDA also provided a copy of the test
results, which the family had finally
The family received no further communication from the school district on
this matter, and the parents were able
to continue homeschooling their child
without interruption.
marked absent by
public school
by Peter K. Kamakawiwoole
On February 1, 2013, a Home
School Legal Defense Association
member family on Oahu withdrew their
son from elementary school and submit-
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
ted their notification of intent to homeschool. In April the
parents unexpectedly received a
quarterly report
card from the public
school, which stated
that their son had
accumulated over
28 absences. The elementary school had
continued to count the student as
“enrolled,” even though he had been formally withdrawn. The family immediately
contacted HSLDA’s legal department.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Peter Kamakawiwoole contacted the school principal
and pointed out that homeschooled
students are not required to attend public
school, and therefore cannot be counted
absent. It was inaccurate and unfair to
place these absences on the child’s academic record.
HSLDA asked that the report card be
changed to reflect that the student had
been withdrawn since February 1, and
the school promptly complied.
DCS closes case
by Thomas J. Schmidt
A Home School Legal Defense
Association member family in
central Indiana contacted HSLDA Staff
Attorney Thomas Schmidt after being
visited by the Indiana Department of
Child Services
(DCS).* The DCS
caseworker told the
family she was
investigating allegations of educational neglect, and mentioned there were
several other allegations as well.
In the months before the DCS visit,
the family had sought help from a private organization that offered guidance
in financial and life management skills.
The organization was also aiding the
family in addressing two of their children’s minor reading difficulties.
The family follows an educational
approach that delays formal learning
until children are slightly older. Apparently, the organization misunderstood
the family’s educational philosophy and
reported them for neglect.
Together with friends of the family
and professionals, HSLDA assisted the
family throughout the investigation to
show the caseworker that they were in
compliance with Indiana state law. Our
member family recently received notice
that the allegations were determined to
be unfounded, and the case against them
was closed.
Delaying formal learning based on
student readiness is a valid educational
approach, but can be easily misinterpreted by observers. We encourage our
members who follow this approach to
be conscientious in implementing it and
sensitive to the misunderstandings that
can arise.
* See “HSLDA social services contact
policy,” page 30.
Driver’s education
tax credit
by Scott A. Woodruff
With the enactment of House File
215, which gives the option for
parents to teach driver’s education to
their children and provides better access
to public school
driver’s education
programs, it’s time
to take a look at a
tax credit created in
1987. (ParentIowa
taught driver’s education in Iowa will
not be available in practice until some
administrative details get worked out.)
Iowa Code § 422.12.2(b) allows a tax
credit of up to $250 (25% of the first
$1,000 of expenses) for driver’s education
tuition and books in certain situations.
When the requirements are met, the
credit is available whether or not a parent
homeschools his or her child.
Consult with your tax advisor or
another reliable source if you want more
information about the tax credit and
whether you might be eligible.
District asks IPI
families to file Form A
by Scott A. Woodruff
An alert Home School Legal
Defense Association member
forwarded us a letter that the Iowa
City Community School District sent
to area homeschool parents, incorrectly
saying that parents choosing Independent Private Instruction (IPI, option 5)
must file a Form A. The letter also
stated that families must file Form A
by August 26.
This type of error will probably happen
often this year because Iowa recently
changed its homeschool laws to include
five different homeschooling options,
each with unique features. (
House File 215 changed the new date
for filing Form A to September 1 for
those who need to file it—but the effective date of this provision is not until
next year. However, the department of
education set September 1 as the deadline for this year.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott
Woodruff called the school system and
explained that Form A is not necessary
for families choosing IPI, and the problem appears to be resolved.
Library fixes discriminatory policy
by Scott A. Woodruff
Students “playing hooky” and
using that illicit freedom to go to
the local library is an unlikely scenario.
But that seems to have been the worry of
the Morton
County Library
Board when it
adopted a rule that
no child or teen
would be allowed in
the public library
without a parent
during public school hours because “the
staff cannot tell if the child is in truancy.”
This rule had virtually no impact on
public school kids, of course, since they
have their own school libraries and
don’t need to go AWOL to spend a few
pleasant hours reading Les Miserables,
Moby-Dick, or The Brothers Karamazov.
But the rule fell heavily upon area homeschool families—whose kids often do
spend hours in public libraries.
When an unaccompanied 12-year-old
homeschooled student dropped by the
Morton County Library at 3:00 p.m. on a
public school day and was promptly told
to leave the premises, the student’s parents notified Home School Legal Defense
Association. HSLDA sent an e-lert to
area families urging them to attend a
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
coming library board meeting to oppose
the chaperone policy. HSLDA Senior
Counsel Scott Woodruff followed up
with a phone call to the board chairman.
In the months that followed, the board
listened to the homeschool community
and subsequently abolished the rule. We
appreciate the board’s responsiveness.
County invents
by Thomas J. Schmidt
In June 2013 all homeschooling
families in Henry County received
a packet from the school board and a
memo from the director of pupil personnel
(DPP). The memo
informed parents
that they must submit the homeschool
notification form for
the following school
year by June 28.
After receiving the form,
the DPP would “meet with the home
school teacher to review the legal requirements regarding records that are mandatory and explain how the [homeschool]
program can be structured to best meet
the educational needs of your child.”
The DPP also mentioned that Kentucky law had specific “requirements for
the procedures and the curriculum that
must be included” (emphasis added).
HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas
Schmidt wrote to the DPP to clarify
Kentucky’s private school law (which
includes homeschools). For instance,
there is no requirement that the notification form be submitted by June 28.
Instead, Kentucky law requests that the
notice be submitted within two weeks
of the beginning of the school year. (If
a family moves into Kentucky or pulls
their child out of public school in the
middle of the school year, they can still
begin homeschooling after the first two
weeks of the school year.)
After HSLDA contacted the Henry
County DPP, homeschooling families
experienced no further difficulties and
were not required to meet with any
school official.
Bowdoin reforms
admissions for
by Scott A. Woodruff
Recently Home School Legal
Defense Association learned that
Bowdoin College was asking homeschooled applicants, “Will your state
recognize you as a
high school graduate at the end of
your senior year?”
This question was
highly problematic
because homeschools, just like
{ A contrario sensu }
on the other hand
Not lost at all
One day, shortly after kindergarten
started for my oldest child, a friend of
hers was playing at our house. The little
girl had begun kindergarten at public
school and wanted to know why my
daughter did not also attend her school.
Without hesitation, my daughter
explained, “Mommy doesn’t know
where kindergarten is.”
Four years later, I am still laughing!
Stacy P. / Katy, TX
Manipulatives on the menu
Recently at the dinner table, I
observed our 10-year-old son, Silas,
lining up six-sided crackers on the table
and told him not to play with his food.
His reply proved he’d been paying
attention in that day’s math lesson.
“I’m not playing with my food,” he
said. “I’m tessellating hexagons!”
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
Patricia J. / Morgantown, WV
many private schools, do not seek or
obtain state program or diploma recognition. Generally, states do not even have
authority to “recognize” a homeschool.
Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff
wrote to Bowdoin’s office of admissions
to explain this. He added that under
federal law, graduates of homeschool
programs are eligible for federal financial aid.
Bowdoin was responsive to Woodruff
and has stopped asking the problematic
College access law
takes effect
by Scott A. Woodruff
With the governor’s signature on
Legislative Document 61, homeschoolers in Maine now have access to
free or low-cost college courses. There are
only five requirements:
1.The student’s educational program
must meet Maine’s home instruction requirements.
2.The college must have space in the
classroom for the student.
3.The student must have completed
all course prerequisites.
4.The student must submit such
evidence of academic fitness as the
college may request.
5.The student must receive the college’s approval of the student’s
academic fitness.
Only courses (including online
courses) taken within the University of
Maine System, the Maine Community
College System, and the Maine Maritime
Academy are eligible. The state department of education pays 50% of the
in-state tuition, and the college waives
the remainder of the tuition costs. The
student may be required to pay other fees
and charges.
The recently passed L.D. 963 raises
the number of credit hours a student
may take under this program from three
per semester and six per year to six per
semester and 12 per year.
Our thanks go to Representative Eleanor Espling for sponsoring L.D. 61 and
to Homeschoolers of Maine for working
hard to make it law.
Hearing screen
not mandatory
by Scott A. Woodruff
After the birth of her new baby, a
Maryland Home School Legal
Defense Association member received a
rather insistent letter from the Maryland Department of
Health and Mental
Hygiene: “We are
contacting you
because our program is required by law
to ensure that all infants receive a newborn hearing screen and are referred for
all appropriate follow-up care.”
After the mom brought this letter to
our attention, HSLDA Senior Counsel
Scott Woodruff checked the Maryland
statutes and found no law mandating that
parents participate in a hearing screening.
Woodruff followed up with the author
of the letter. She promptly acknowledged
that the program is voluntary.
Getting your baby’s hearing checked
within the first six months is an excellent
idea. An undetected hearing issue may
cause a child to have long-term speaking
difficulties. However, this is within the
parents’ discretion and not subject to
state mandate.
oversteps bounds
by Scott A. Woodruff
The Wicomico County Board of
Education recently sent a letter to
area homeschool families that misquoted
and misapplied the Maryland homeschool
regulations and made improper demands.
The letter incorrectly referred to the
annual verification as a “notice of continuation,” and asked families to submit
their verification on a form when no
form is required. The letter also asked
homeschooling families to submit the
verification and any change of status to
the school system, even though families
in umbrella programs are required to
submit these only to the program.
The letter asked families to submit
“proof of enrollment” in an umbrella program, but there is no such requirement
under the Maryland homeschool regulations. Additionally, the form enclosed in
the letter sought to obtain a great deal
of information from families that is not
Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff contacted the author and asked that a letter
of correction be sent to area homeschool
Woodruff’s letter, which includes a
complete analysis of the many ways the
{ A contrario sensu }
on the other hand
Storybook courtesy
When our daughter Kim was 6 years
old, we read a children’s version of the
Arabian Nights to supplement our history studies.
During a visit from my sister, Kim
asked her for something. “What are the
magic words?” my sister reminded Kim.
Kim thought for a few seconds.
“Open sesame?”
Cherith H. / Cerritos, CA
Sporting her school pride!
On our homeschool field trip to Washington, D.C., my 10-year-old-son, Elisha,
asked, “Why is the lady on top of the
Capitol building wearing that helmet?”
His 8-year-old brother Obadiah
piped up, “It’s because she’s a Michigan
State fan!”
Robyn M. / Lawrenceburg, IN
county’s letter and form overstepped the
boundaries of the Maryland homeschool
regulations, can be read here:
Common Core
slowed—for now
by Michael P. Donnelly
In June parents in Michigan won
an important victory in their fight
for educational freedom: House Bill 4328
defunded the
implementation of
the Common Core
State Standards Initiative. Michigan
adopted the Common Core in 2010
and has been moving towards its full implementation in
the public schools, but H.B. 4328 pauses
implementation by prohibiting the use of
funds for the Common Core.
Home School Legal Defense Association’s staff attorney for Michigan member affairs, Michael Donnelly, submitted
testimony to the House Education Committee and has been working with local
homeschool and conservative groups to
oppose the Common Core.
HSLDA sees the Common Core
standards as the federal government’s
latest attempt to impose national curriculum standards. The Common Core
compromises local control of education
and could move our nation down a slippery slope toward national curriculum,
national testing, and national databases—all of which have the potential to
harm every form of education, including
home education.
While Common Core implementation
is now on hold in Michigan, the threat
of implementation remains. As this issue
goes to press, a special committee has
been called by the legislature to evaluate
whether the Common Core accomplished its goal from 2010 to June 2013.
In October the Michigan House passed
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
a resolution to allow the department of
education to begin spending money to
implement Common Core initiatives.
The resolution is now waiting for further
action in the Senate.
To find out more about the Common
Core and how it could affect your family,
visit our website at
Records not required
by Michael P. Donnelly
Several homeschooling families in
the New Ulm district contacted
Home School Legal Defense Association
after receiving a letter from their superintendent that was
inconsistent with
Minnesota’s homeschool requirements.
The letter demanded
that parents submit
daily attendance records and report cards
by a July 5 deadline, and claimed that
these records were required by the state of
Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s attorney
for Minnesota member affairs, responded
to the superintendent to clarify that the
law had changed to no longer require this
information. Although some parents had
to submit quarterly report cards to the
school district years ago, that requirement was removed in 2011. Donnelly
asked for the district to update its future
letters to accurately reflect the requirements of Minnesota law.
If you have questions about the state’s
homeschool requirements, or if the school
district is making demands you feel go
beyond its authority, do not hesitate to
contact HSLDA. We are here to help!
Record number
of bills tracked
by Dewitt T. Black
During the 2013 session of the
Mississippi Legislature, Home
School Legal Defense Association
tracked a record 59
bills that either
directly or indirectly affected
home educators.
Below is the breakdown of these bills
by category:
Homeschooling: 6
Parental rights: 8
Early childhood education: 12
College admission: 2
Compulsory attendance: 18
Immunizations: 3
Virtual charter schools: 2
Income tax deductions: 3
Special education: 1
Child abuse: 3
College scholarships: 1
Most of these bills were unfavorable to
homeschooling families. However, during the legislative process, some bills that
began as threats to homeschool freedom
or parental rights were amended and
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Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
passed without objectionable language.
Effective monitoring of pending
legislation and lobbying by the Mississippi Home Educators Association was
instrumental in stopping many bills that
challenged the rights of homeschoolers.
The majority of bills died at the committee level before any vote was taken.
Unfortunately, the legislature passed
House Bill 896, which poses a potential
threat to homeschoolers. This bill created
scholarships for students with speechlanguage impairments to receive services
through a nonpublic school of choice.
The school must provide “intensive
high-quality speech-language pathology
services” by a licensed and certified individual. But here’s the problem: The law
says that parents may exercise the option
to remove their impaired child from public school to be enrolled in a nonpublic
school (e.g., a home instruction program)
so long as the school provides these same
services. This appears to be true even
though a home education program is
not eligible to receive scholarship funds.
While it is uncertain how a court would
interpret this law, the possibility exists
that some home instruction programs in
Mississippi may be saddled with unprecedented state standards. What is clear
is that children who have never been
enrolled in public school are not subject
to these standards. HSLDA will continue
to monitor this situation.
Avoid West Plains
withdrawal form
by Scott A. Woodruff
The West Plains public school sys tem is pressuring families to fill
out its own unique form when they withdraw their children
to homeschool.
Home School Legal
Defense Association urges you not
to use the form.
The form resembles the optional Declaration of Enrollment that homeschool
families can file if they wish. But it
requests more information than Missouri
Statute § 167.042 requires for the optional
declaration—for example, the child’s
birth date and whether the child has an
individualized education program.
Finally, the West Plains form requires
parents to sign an acknowledgement that
they have received certain unspecified
information about homeschooling from
the Missouri Department of Elementary
and Secondary Education and the school
system. It is impossible to predict the
consequences of signing this acknowledgement.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff
asked West Plains superintendent Dr.
John Mulford whether he believed it was
mandatory for families to use the West
Plains form. He responded in part:
Our position . . . is that any
student . . . who withdraws for the
purpose of homeschooling must
provide the district with documentation of such. Typically, we
ask parents to complete this form
as a matter of convenience for the
parent so they do not have to take
the time to draft a letter, etc. If a
parent has refused, we have not
made an issue of it.
We appreciate that he does not insist
that families use the school’s form.
However, if school staff puts pressure on
parents to fill out the form, a copy of this
article with Dr. Mulford’s quote should
convince them to respect the families’
A far better way to make withdrawing
convenient is to use the sample withdrawal letter available on the membersonly section of HSLDA’s Missouri page
at Using this form assures
you that you have submitted everything
that is actually necessary, without needlessly surrendering private information.
* See “A plethora of forms,” page 30.
New Hampshire
Education tax credit
law upheld
by Michael P. Donnelly
On June 17, 2013, a trial court ruled
that New Hampshire’s new education tax credit law, which provides for
enabling needy families to attend private
or out-of-district
public schools or to
homeschool, is conNew Hampshire
Home School
Legal Defense Association believes that
tax credits are an appropriate public
policy means to recognize the equitable
contribution of homeschoolers, who educate their children without using public
education resources. The New Hampshire
tax credit law simply allows for the creation of nonprofit enterprises that receive
donations from businesses receiving a
limited tax credit for their contributions.
The donations are then used to fund educational choice for lower-income families.
The American Civil Liberties Union
claimed that the state constitution does
not permit any kind of funding to support private religious schools. The trial
court ruled that tax credits are indeed
public monies, a finding that is at odds
with the United States Supreme Court
holdings on the subject, and that the
law was unconstitutional as it related to
private religious schools. However, the
judge ruled it was perfectly legitimate to
allow the law to continue for the benefit
of nonreligious private schools, out-ofdistrict public schools, and homeschools.
Previously, opponents of the tax credit
attempted to stop the law’s implementation by introducing House Bill 370,
which did not pass when it reached the
New Hampshire Senate.
Advocates for private religious schools
are expected to appeal the ruling, but for
now the program will continue for the
benefit of some students in the Granite
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
State. For more information, please visit
New mexico
Positive change
to immunization
waiver form
by Thomas J. Schmidt
This past summer, the New Mexico
Department of Health (DOH)
changed back to an earlier, better version
of the form homeschooling parents
must file to obtain a
waiver of immunization requirements.
Parents who
New Mexico
teach their children at home are
required to notify the New Mexico
Public Education Department of their
homeschool program every year. Parents
must submit the notice within 30 days of
establishing their homeschool program
and for each subsequent year by April 1.
In addition to the notice, homeschooling parents must also maintain
immunization records or an immunization waiver. The waiver may be obtained
by submitting to the DOH a Certificate of
Religious Exemption Form or a medical
exemption signed by a licensed physician
attesting that the required immunizations
would endanger the life of the child.
The Certificate of Religious Exemption Form includes all the information
a parent must submit for the waiver
to be granted. Until last year, it simply
required parents to state they had
religious beliefs that did not permit the
immunization of their children.
Last year the DOH changed the
form, requiring parents to “state the
religious beliefs that prevent your
child from receiving vaccines.” After
hearing objections from several groups,
including Christian Association of
Parent Educators–New Mexico and
Home School Legal Defense Association,
the department changed back the form.
Once again the form only requires parents to check a box affirming that their
religious beliefs do not permit immunization of their children. Parents do not
have to list their specific beliefs.
While a parent’s objection to immunization must be due to his or her religious
beliefs in order to obtain a waiver for
nonmedical reasons, the DOH does not
have the authority to judge individuals’
beliefs. As long as your beliefs are religious in nature, a Certificate of Religious
Exemption should be granted to you. If
you have any questions, please contact
HSLDA at 540-338-5600 for further
New York
Registration and
by Thomas J. Schmidt
Toward the end of the 2012–13
school year, a Home School Legal
Defense Association member family in
{ A contrario sensu }
on the other hand
House of learning
My 9-year-old daughter was taking an English test with a section on
compound words. “A house for school,”
she read aloud, and promptly answered,
Ann M. / North Haverhill, NH
Creativity from the Shire
Our four kids (ages 7–12) learned
about limericks at the same time we
were reading The Hobbit. One day as
they came in from playing outside, I
heard them chanting.
There once was a hobbit named
Who took the Ring from Deagol.
He turned into Gollum
And hid in a hollum
In the mountain so regal.
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
Sarah A. / LaGrange, KY
the Huntington
Union Free School
District received a
letter from the
assistant superinNew York
tendent. The letter
stated that the family must register their children with the
district and establish residency.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas
Schmidt contacted the assistant superintendent, who explained that he had
some concerns about whether the family
actually resided within the district. For
several years, the family had requested
that correspondence from the school
district be sent to their post office box.
Apparently, because the box was in a
neighboring school district, Huntington
school district personnel were uncertain
of where the family actually resided.
However, the assistant superintendent’s
letter had been sent to the family’s physical address. Schmidt pointed out that
since the family had obviously received
his letter at their physical address, they
must live within the district.
Schmidt also explained that New York
state law does not require homeschooling
parents to register with their school district. Instead, parents provide a notice of
intent to homeschool their children and
then submit the remaining homeschool
paperwork once they receive a packet of
documents from the district.
The assistant superintendent recognized that the family did not need to
register their children and agreed not to
seek any further proof of residency.
College admission
problem resolved
by Thomas J. Schmidt
A Home School Legal Defense
Association member family in
central New York recently contacted us
because of trouble they were having getting their daughter admitted to Schenectady County Community College
(SCCC). The family had moved to New
York in the middle of their daughter’s
high school years and reported to their
local school district for the 11th and 12th
grades only. The school district wrote a
letter on behalf of the family verifying
that the young woman had “completed
all home school requirements during her
time in [the district].”
When the student submitted this letter to SCCC, the college was unwilling
to accept it because the letter did not
use the phrase substantially equivalent.
However, HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas
Schmidt contacted SCCC and insisted
that the letter was sufficient.
Schmidt also pointed out that homeschooled students can be accepted even
without such a letter and would only
need to complete 24 credits in various
subjects before graduation from college.
SCCC agreed, and notified the family
that their daughter could be admitted.
of tomorrow?
Maybe not
by Michael P. Donnelly
Thousands of Ohio families have
opted to leave brick-and-mortar
public schools in favor of online publicschool-at-home
that the home environment, along
with the programs’
promised materials
and support, will
better serve their
children. However, Home School Legal
Defense Association is helping an
increasing number of families extract
themselves from these programs, to
escape what some have called “oppressive” school oversight. In some cases,
the programs are not very willing to let
their students go—going so far as to
follow families with truancy charges
even after they have obtained valid
excuses from their district superintendents to homeschool.
Homeschoolers who choose publicschool-at-home programs think of them
as a middle ground between traditional
public school and what they perceive as
more unregulated, unsupported homeschools. In private homeschooling, parents determine the curriculum and pay
for it, whereas online public school programs select, provide, and “teach” a curriculum for free. In private homeschools,
parents determine the schedule; evaluate
progress; and guide, coach, and teach
their children. In public-school-at-home
programs, parents are “learning coaches”
under the supervision of state-employed
teachers. In private homeschools, religion
can be integrated into the curriculum,
but in public school programs, teaching
religion is out of bounds.
Perhaps the biggest issue parents
{ A contrario sensu }
on the other hand
More fun than
the impractical kind
Our homeschooled kindergartner
had just seen a report card for the first
time—her friend’s.
As the two were discussing the
friend’s grades, our daughter declared,
“I know what PE stands for. It stands for
practical exercise!”
Lennierose M. / Bell, CA
End of statutory rule
While studying the fall of the Soviet
Union, our family read a book containing a picture of Vladimir Lenin’s statue
being taken down. Our 4-year-old
daughter asked about it.
I referred back to a photograph of
Lenin himself, explaining that the people didn’t want his kind of government
anymore. Connecting the statue to the
man was apparently too abstract, since
my daughter then said, “So they wanted
a real man to be in charge?”
Ellen L. / Ruckersville, VA
have with these schools is the excessive
amount of time their children must
spend in front of a computer. If a child
doesn’t log the requisite amount of online
hours, the parents will be charged with
truancy. We have found that at least
some of these virtual schools can be
quite aggressive when it comes to making
these truancy charges. The Electronic
Classroom of Tomorrow was one such
school from which HSLDA helped a new
member withdraw.
HSLDA understands that there are
some benefits to these schools (including affordability). However, private
homeschooling permits the greatest
amount of freedom for families to adjust
curriculum and schedules with minimal
regulation. When a child is enrolled in a
public school program, the government
is in charge—even if learning takes place
in the home.
Legislative update
by Michael P. Donnelly
This year the Ohio legislature
made two significant changes to
public laws that affect homeschoolers—
some would say for the better.
The legislature passed House Bill 59,
the Omnibus Budget Bill, in June 2013.
The bill directs school districts and the
Ohio Department of Education to allow
home-educated students to be “afforded
. . . the opportunity to participate in
extracurricular activities offered at the
district school to which the student
otherwise would be assigned during
that school year.” This bill also allows
the state’s Post-Secondary Enrollment
Program (PSEO) to be opened up to
homeschoolers. The PSEO program pays
for dual-enrollment college courses at
participating Ohio institutions of higher
learning. Homeschooling families who
wish to participate in the PSEO program
must notify the state department of education by April 1 of the year prior to the
one in which they plan to participate.
For more information on these and
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
other changes, please call HSLDA or visit
portfolios early
by Dewitt T. Black
At the end of the 2012–13 school
year, Home School Legal Defense
Association assisted two member
families who had
been told by the
School District of
Philadelphia to
submit year-end
portfolios for their
children, even
though they were
not yet being homeschooled.
How did this happen?
In 2008 the Pennsylvania General
Assembly passed a law that authorized
school districts of the first class (i.e.,
Philadelphia) to establish the compulsory
school age no lower than 6. But the new
law also provided that the compulsory
attendance age of 8 would continue
to apply to “any student whose parent or guardian files a notice with the
superintendent of the school district of
the intention to enroll the student in a
[home education program].” After the
School District of Philadelphia lowered
the compulsory attendance age from 8
to 6, parents who intended to formally
begin homeschooling their children at age
8 notified the school district when their
children turned 6 of their future plans.
In the case of the two HSLDA member
families, the school district misunderstood their notices to indicate that homeschooling was already beginning for these
children. This resulted in letters to the
families close to the end of the school year
reminding them to submit their portfolios
with standardized test scores, evaluations,
and work samples for the year.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt
Black sent a letter to the school officials
informing them of the 2008 law and the
effect of the parents’ notice to the school
district. He also reminded the officials
that a home education program may only
be commenced in Pennsylvania by filing
a notarized affidavit with the superintendent, something neither family had
done. This action resolved the difficulty
encountered by our member families.
HOPE scholarship
by Dewitt T. Black
With the enactment of House Bill
1055 on May 13, 2013, students who
have been enrolled in a Tennessee homeschool for at least
one year prior to
graduation are now
eligible for a HOPE
Scholarship. Prior
law required enrollTennessee
ment in a homeschool for at least
two years before a student was eligible for
the scholarship. The new law applies to
students applying for post-secondary
financial assistance for the 2013–14 academic year and academic years thereafter.
PSAT problem
by Darren A. Jones
Last year a Home School Legal
Defense Association member in
Irving approached the local public
high school to have
her son take the Preliminary SAT
(PSAT). Unfortunately, she received
an extremely negative response from
the school. Because the homeschooled
student was younger than most high
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
schoolers, the school proctor told the
mother, “I can’t babysit children.” The
general demeanor of the school administration toward homeschooling culminated
in the cancelation of the student’s testing.
In June 2013, the mother contacted the
school again to reschedule the PSAT for
her son, but the school was once more
uncooperative. Her phone calls were not
returned, nor was she able to speak with
the testing administrator. Frustrated, she
called HSLDA.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Darren Jones
immediately contacted the Ranchview
High School principal, explaining that
Texas Education Code § 29.916 guarantees
homeschool students the right to take the
PSAT at their local public school. On June
17, the principal responded to the family,
verifying that their son was now scheduled to take the PSAT in October.
Helping homeschool students overcome discrimination is a rewarding
aspect of what we do at HSLDA. Many
times, school administrators are simply
unaware that homeschool students are
entitled by law to take the PSAT at their
local high school.
Umbrella homeschool grads can
by Peter K. Kamakawiwoole
In April 2013, a member family
contacted Home School Legal
Defense Association because their son,
who had graduated
from their homeschool high school
program in 2006,
was encountering
difficulty enlisting
in the United States
Army. The young
man’s recruiter rejected his homeschool
diploma because he had not included
copies of an affidavit and excuse letter as
verification of compliance with state law.
The recruiter was unfamiliar with
the second option for homeschooling in
Utah, in which homeschoolers can enroll
their children in a private “umbrella
school” while teaching them at home. The
graduate had explained that his parents
had enrolled him in the Utah Christian
Education Institute (UCEI) umbrella
school, but the recruiter was still unconvinced that his diploma was valid.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Peter Kamakawiwoole wrote to the recruiter that Utah
has two different options to homeschool
legally, and that homeschoolers who
are enrolled in a “regularly established
private school” are exempt from filing
the Utah affidavit. Since the graduate
had been enrolled in UCEI, a recognized
private school, his homeschool education was conducted in compliance with
Utah law, and his high school diploma
was legally valid. The recruiter agreed to
recognize the diploma.
Utah homeschoolers, like homeschoolers in many other states, have more than
one legal option for homeschooling. It
is imperative that each option is recognized by the military. As recruiters gain
experience enlisting homeschool graduates, misunderstandings like the one
this homeschool graduate faced should
become less common.
Based on recent changes to the law,
the military is required to accept all
homeschool graduates who were homeschooled in compliance with their state
law on an equal basis as all other high
school graduates. For the most up-todate information on enlistment requirements for homeschool graduates, visit
DMV removes
by Scott A. Woodruff
Virginia homeschoolers under the
religious exemption provision
encountered a new and unexpected
difficulty this year
getting various
agencies to process
their paperwork
for parent-taught
driver’s education.
The division of
motor vehicles
(DMV) told families it would only accept
letters of religious exemption issued during the current year. The DMV rejected
letters that school boards had issued
prior to the current year, even though the
letters had no expiration date.
Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff
wrote to the assistant commissioner of
motor vehicles and explained that while
some school attendance exemptions
last only one year, the religious exemption statute contains no limitation. The
legislature intended that once a family is
under the exemption, there is no need for
yearly filing.
Support homeschooling
when you shop online.
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the link
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to the Home School Foundation, helping homeschoolers in need.
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
In a follow-up phone call, the assistant
commissioner said that the new practice
was the result of a decision by the department of education. She assured Woodruff
that she would respond after she showed
his letter to the DMV attorney in the
attorney general’s office.
She wrote back soon thereafter
announcing that the DMV would rescind
the new policy and accept any unexpired
exemption letter. This is a green light for
religious exemption families to move
forward with parent-taught driver’s
HPV immunization
without consent
by Thomas J. Schmidt
The newly available human
papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines
have caused some tension between
those who believe
the vaccines should
be routinely given
to children under
18 and those who
disagree. Although
HPV vaccination is
not mandatory for
children in Washington State—whether
public schooled or homeschooled—
parents may still find themselves
caught up in this controversy as
they make medical decisions for their
When a Home School Legal Defense
Association member in Washington
took two of her children to get their
immunizations updated, the admitting
nurse indicated that the boys should be
given the HPV vaccine since they were
over the age of 11. The mother was taken
by surprise, since she had thought the
HPV vaccine was for girls and had not
discussed it with her sons. The nurse
assured her that the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention now recommends that the vaccine be given to boys
as well as girls.
As our member and her husband had
already discussed their concerns about
the HPV vaccine, she declined it for
her boys and filled out a decline form.
However, one of the boys had already
been taken back to an examination room
in preparation for his other shots and
didn’t overhear the conversation. Then
the second son was taken to another
examination room. When they both
came back, they informed their mother
that they had both been given two
shots. When questioned, the nurse who
administered the shots admitted that she
had given them both the HPV vaccine.
When our member informed the nurse
that she had specifically declined this
vaccine and that it was administered
against her wishes, the nurse shrugged it
off and said, “Oh well.”
Not satisfied, our member also
complained to the doctor. Since she
hadn’t been able to discuss the vaccine with her sons in the privacy of
their home, as she had done previously
{ A contrario sensu }
on the other hand
A cent-sible definition
While he was helping his 5-year-old
sister, Grace, count her money, I overheard my 7-year-old say:
“So, Grace, so far you have 53 cents.”
“What’s cents?” Grace asked.
Jacob thoughtfully said, “Cents is
what you have when you don’t have
enough to make a dollar.”
Rebecca H. / Waterloo, SC
The longest walk
My 8-year-old son’s Royal Rangers
leader asked the Ranger Kids, “How do
you travel to school in the morning?”
As the kids took turns answering
the question, Benjamin shared the
challenge he faces getting to school:
“My mom doesn’t let me ride my bike in
the house!”
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
Julie L. / Poway, CA
with her daughter, the boys were given
the immunization without their full
informed consent.
Although it is likely the administration of this vaccine violated the
parents’ and children’s rights, the
family has decided not to pursue litigation at this time.
In Washington, parents are free to
decide whether they want their children
to receive the HPV vaccine. If you have
additional questions about this issue,
please talk with your doctor.
Who’s my guidance
by Karen Koch
As part of his high school pro gram, my son Mitchell took
College-Level Examination Program
(CLEP) exams at Pierce College’s Fort
Lewis Education Center. He had already
taken 12 CLEP exams over the course
of a year when the college began requiring a new High School Release form.
The release required a high school counselor’s signature for students to take tests
at the education center.
Since I homeschool Mitchell, I signed
the form as his high school counselor and
submitted it via email. However, when
we went to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to
register for another CLEP test, the clerk
insisted my signature wasn’t adequate.
She said a supervisor had told her that
even homeschooled students had to get
their local public school counselor’s permission before testing.
I explained that my son didn’t attend
public school and that no public school
had academic authority over him. Furthermore, trying to obtain a counselor’s
signature from the local public school
could result in student privacy violations
or possible hostility from a public school
official unfamiliar with my son’s course
of study.
The Pierce College clerk allowed
Mitchell to take the CLEP exam. But
{Good to Know }
HSLDA social services
contact policy
We desire to advise our members in
every contact with a social worker and/
or police officer in investigations resulting from allegations of abuse or neglect.
If homeschooling is an issue, we will
represent our member families until
the issue is resolved.
On 4th Amendment
unreasonable search
and seizure issues,
HSLDA will advise
our members whenever the privacy
of their home is
violated by forced or
coerced entry for the
purpose of an unsubstantiated investigation. HSLDA membership benefits
do not extend to court actions resulting from nonhomeschooling matters.
However, in circumstances where there
is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment, HSLDA may, as we have done in
the past, choose to take the case in an
effort to establish legal precedent.
A plethora of forms
As an added benefit to our
members, HSLDA has posted a number
of sample forms on our website,
including letters for withdrawing from
public school, forms for submitting
required notices of intent to homeschool, and memos
describing the legal
issues involved in
To see the forms
for your state, go
to members.hslda
.org, log in, and
select your state.
By creating these
forms, HSLDA did not
intend to burden its members with
more paperwork. Rather, the forms
are designed for our members’ convenience and to protect them from inadvertently giving more information than
their state’s law requires. Members are
free to prepare their own documents
to comply with the law.
Mitchell had more tests scheduled to
take on base, so I contacted Home
School Legal Defense Association for
assistance, knowing this could be an
ongoing issue for our family and other
HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas
Schmidt contacted Pierce College and
spoke with the director of enrollment
services. He communicated to them that
local school officials have no authority over the dual enrollment of high
school students. Rather, parents are
legally responsible for their children’s
dual enrollment. (While homeschool
students can enroll in Washington’s
Running Start program, over which
local school officials have some control,
my son was not participating in this
After receiving some additional information submitted by HSLDA, Pierce
College agreed to revise the High School
Release form to accommodate homeschoolers.
When we received the revised form, it
included a new “Testing” option, a box
to mark as a “Home School Parent,” and
a line for the parent’s signature instead
of an “Authorized Signature” from
a public school official as previously
requested. Our family has been assured
there will be no more access issues.
private educational program”—except
once. Wisconsin Statute § 118.145(4), the
access statute, refers to homeschooling
as a “home-based educational program.”
The word private is missing.
The online version of the Wisconsin
statutes currently places the word
private in square brackets between
home-based and educational. A footnote
follows that says, “A missing word is
shown in brackets. Corrective legislation is pending.”
Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff
communicated with representatives
of the legislative council and legislative reference bureau of the Wisconsin
legislature. He learned that the agencies
plan to introduce legislation to make
this technical correction, although no
such legislation is currently pending.
Woodruff emphasized to the representatives that any bill the agencies may
pursue must make no changes other
than inserting the word private where it
Inserting the word private should not
create problems for homeschool families,
and it could even prevent some problems.
HSLDA will monitor any such bill closely
to make sure it does not threaten homeschooling.
Technical fix to
homeschool law
Hospital social
worker questions
by Scott A. Woodruff
by Michael P. Donnelly
A correction is in the works for a
minor error in the law that gives
Wisconsin homeschoolers the right to
take up to two public high school
When Wisconsin’s statutes refer
to homeschooling,
they always refer to
it as a “home-based
A Home School Legal Defense
Association member family living
in Wyoming went to a hospital in neighboring Colorado
for specialized
treatment of their
child’s serious
medical needs. The
parents had a good
relationship with
the medical team,
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
and were taken by surprise one day
when the social worker at the hospital
told them that they would have to either
comply with Colorado homeschool law
or stop homeschooling. The social
worker also told the family that she felt
homeschooling simply could not meet
the child’s needs and the child must
receive an Individualized Education
Plan (IEP).
There were a few problems with the
social worker’s position. First, the family
resided in Wyoming—where the child
was not yet of compulsory attendance
age. Even so, out of caution, the family
had been complying with Wyoming
homeschool law for two years. Second,
the social worker was making these
demands even though school was not in
session. Third, an IEP is not something
that can be required—federal law explicitly recognizes the right of all parents to
refuse an IEP.
HSLDA’s attorney for member
affairs in Wyoming (and Colorado),
Michael Donnelly, consulted with
the family and assured them they
were only responsible to comply with
compulsory attendance laws in their
state of residence, and that the demands
of the social worker were quite outrageous. With HSLDA’s advice, the family
was able to defuse the situation and
refocus the medical team on the child’s
medical issues.
More and more medical establishments now incorporate social workers,
some of whom raise irrelevant issues
or even make illegal demands. HSLDA
encourages our members to maintain
positive, proactive, and cordial
relationships with their medical
providers at all times. But we
understand that conflicts may arise
even in a good relationship, and we
are prepared to provide assistance
when homeschooling rights (and,
in some cases, parental rights) are
threatened. n
{ HSLDA Legal inquiries }
June 2013
member Inquiries
School Services
Contact Contact
lation Education Question TOTAL
2 5 2 3132144
4130 585107
new York
106 0 07389
1 2 1 15560
1 0 0 13638
35 0 12736
0 4 4 02432
North Carolina0 3 0 2 2227
All U.S. states
& territories
JUly 2013
member Inquiries
44 75 19 35 8471,020
School Services
Contact Contact
lation Education Question TOTAL
173 0 1171192
Pennsylvania 6 0 0 2122130
New York
11 1 0 287101
06 0 47282
00 0 15253
30 0 13943
2 3 0 23643
Massachusetts1 2 0 13640
All U.S. states
& territories
August 2013
member Inquiries
School Services
Contact Contact
27 1,2061,356
lation Education Question TOTAL
3 8 0 7151169
New York
7 2 0 3128140
9 0 0 6123138
Pennsylvania 201 0 687114
20 0 29195
Massachusetts5 4 1 2 5971
1 5 0 05460
All U.S. states
& territories
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
64 54
116 55
47 1,6981,919
Federal relations reports
{ Freedom Watch }
encourage homeschool leaders
On September 27, 2013, members of
Congress spoke to nearly 300 homeschool leaders from across the nation and
around the world.
The Washington,
D.C., event was part
of HSLDA’s 25th
national leadership
conference, an
annual gathering
to honor and equip
Federal Relations
state homeschool
Director Will Estrada
Amidst addressing the government
© hslda
by Will Estrada and Cordell Asbenson
shutdown, Obamacare’s impact on freedom, and the Romeikes’ search for U.S.
asylum, the lineup of speakers expressed
strong support for parental rights and
Senator Ron Johnson (WI), who championed parental rights and educational
freedom by voting against the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2012,
encouraged the audience that conservative values are still alive in Washington.
“I’m not giving up hope,” he concluded.
“The solution to our nation’s problems
lies in faith and family, and not here in
Washington, D.C.”
Representative Mark Meadows (NC), a
homeschooling father, fired up the crowd
with his enthusiastic support for passing
the Parental Rights Amendment.
House Judiciary Committee Chair-
man Bob Goodlatte (VA) spoke about
how inspired he is by the success of
homeschooling. His committee will
hear the Parental Rights Amendment
en route to a vote by the full House of
Maureen Dowling of the U.S. Department of Education shared how her team
in the Office of Nonpublic Education
had collaborated with HSLDA to communicate to colleges and universities that
homeschoolers are fully eligible for federal
financial aid. She also applauded homeschoolers for their educational success.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
(VA), the highest-ranking speaker, urged
attendees to continue fighting for homeschool freedom. “Parents know what is
best for their children’s education,” he
said. “The government ought to recognize this truth!”
Rep. Tim Walberg (MI), a homeschool
dad, thanked Generation Joshua and
homeschool students, crediting them for
his successful election. He urged homeschoolers to keep pursuing excellence
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
and educational freedom.
Another homeschooling parent,
Rep. Dan Webster (FL), reiterated
his support for the Romeikes, who
were present. “We must try to
convince Germany to practice liberty,
but if we cannot, for heaven’s sake,
then let the German homeschoolers
come to the U.S., where they can be
free,” he said, receiving a standing
ovation for his remarks.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), the chair
of the House Subcommittee
on Higher Education, applauded
homeschool leaders for their active
support of educational freedom and
commented on how
impressed she is by
the success of homeschool graduates.
Josh Duggar, homeschool graduate and
the executive director
of Family Research
Council Action, thanked
the homeschool parents for all they
do and shared his personal story. He
reminded the leaders that not only
members of Congress but also some of
the nation’s most active
pro-family organizations support homeMaureen Dowling
of the Departschool freedom.
ment of EducaThe solid support
tion shares her
for homeschooling
enthusiasm for
expressed at the Capitol
Hill event
refreshed and
attendees. It
our mutual commitment: we will
continue to insist
that the federal
allow homeschooling to grow
and thrive—by
simply protecting its freedom. n
HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris,
right, has a brief exchange with
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA) before
the congressman addresses
homeschool leaders.
House Majority Leader
Eric Cantor (VA) spurs
homeschoolers to keep
pressing for freedom.
ALL PHOTOS: © hslda / charity klicka
Parents know what is best for their
children’s education. The government
ought to recognize this truth.
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
Sen. Ron Johnson
(WI) encourages
the audience that
values are alive in
Washington, D.C.
Rep. Dan
Webster (FL),
center, visits
with the
family after
the event.
Family Research
Council Action
Director Josh
Duggar talks
with a guest
during the
litigation Summaries
{ Active Cases }
Thackers win
at the Nebraska
Supreme Court
by Darren A. Jones
On May 31, 2013, the Nebraska
Supreme Court ruled that the
Thackers, a homeschooling family
with five children, State of Nebraska
v. Thacker Family
were not guilty of
In 2011 the
Thackers were new
to Nebraska and filing their exemption
paperwork for the
first time. According
to Nebraska law, there
is no deadline for first-time filers, so the
Thackers waited to begin homeschooling
until November. But since they waited to
start homeschooling until after the public
school opened, the county prosecutor
accused the Thackers of violating Nebraska’s compulsory attendance law.
HSLDA represented the Thackers
at their trial, arguing that they were
in compliance with Nebraska law. We
showed that the Thackers had provided
the Nebraska Department of Education
with a calendar for the 2011–12 academic
year, establishing that all required hours
of instruction would be completed by
June 30.
The county-court judge nevertheless
agreed with the prosecutor that the children were “absent” from the time the public schools began classes until the family’s
homeschool began. While the judge found
the Thackers guilty of five misdemeanors,
he refused to impose a fine.
HSLDA appealed. The district court
judge overturned the Thackers’ convictions because he concluded that no crime
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yOur children learn
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The I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist book and
workbook are available at
Order today to prepare your children to defend
their faith!
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
The Supreme Court
of Nebraska did
a very thorough
and careful job in
upholding the right
of parents.
had been committed.
The prosecutor appealed, and the case
went to the state supreme court. HSLDA
Chairman Michael Farris argued the
case before the Nebraska Supreme Court
on March 5, 2013. In its ruling, the
supreme court agreed that the Thacker
convictions should be thrown out. The
court wrote:
The Thackers contend that
§ 79-201 [the Nebraska homeschool
statute] only required them to have
their children attend their exempt
homeschool every day that it was in
session and to complete the minimum hours of instruction required
by law. They argue that Nebraska’s
statutes do not preclude them from
starting a homeschool after the
public school calendar year begins
or compel them to enroll their children in a public school until their
homeschool begins operation.
We agree with the Thackers.
In response to the ruling, Farris stated,
“The Supreme Court of Nebraska did a
very thorough and careful job in upholding the right of parents to direct their
children’s education.”
The Thacker family was delighted:
“Thanks for all of your hard work in
our case! We are so excited and blessed
to have such a wonderful organization
to protect homeschoolers! There aren’t
enough words we can say to express our
appreciation! Thank you, thank you,
thank you!”
Forced testing nixed
by Darren A. Jones
In March 2013, a lifetime HSLDA
member contacted us regarding a
court hearing on
academically testCASE
In re: H Family
ing her 14-yearold daughter.
As a result of
an anonymous
tip, the homeschooling mother had
received a visit two
months earlier from
an investigator with
the Division of Child
and Family Services (DCFS) concerning
her daughter’s education. The investigator demanded that the family have their
daughter tested by the local public school
to see if she qualified as a special-needs
student, and he insisted that they comply
with a DCFS family plan. Since the family
was homeschooling legally in Utah, they
declined to participate in the proposed
testing. After a second intrusion from the
investigator, the family contacted HSLDA.
Because the member did not immediately agree to have her daughter academically evaluated at the public school, the
DCFS worker claimed that the student
was educationally neglected. He petitioned a judge to order the testing as well
as a long-term plan to monitor the teen
HSLDA asked the court to dismiss
the case, pointing out that according to
Utah law, the state can only initiate an
educational neglect proceeding if the
local school district provides prior written
notice of a compulsory attendance violation and gives the parents an opportunity
to address the violation. In this case, the
local school district had no issues with the
family’s homeschooling; neither had it initiated the DCFS prosecution of the family.
It seemed the DCFS worker arbitrarily
assumed the homeschooling mother was
unable to educate her children adequately,
even though she had complied with the
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
homeschool regulations established by the
state of Utah.
After HSLDA presented this argument
to the prosecutor and the court, the
prosecutor agreed that the proceeding
was improper, and the judge dismissed
the case. The homeschooling family
avoided a trial, and their daughter was
not required to undergo unnecessary
testing or submit to oversight from the
court or DCFS. n
{ Pending cases }
US Romeike v. Holder
AL B Family v. Social Security
AZ Loudermilk v. Administration for
Children, Youth and Families
CA O Family v. Social Security
FL In re: C Family
FL P Family v. Social Security
IL S Family v. Social Security
KS B Family v. Office of Personnel
NC G Family v. Social Security
ND In re: H Family
NJ In re: M Family
NY Batt v. Buccilli
NY In re: M Family
OH B Family v. Social Security
OH In re: H Family
OK C Family v. Department of
Veterans Affairs
PA Ferris v. Hershey Medical Center et al.
PA In re: K Family
PA In re: T Family
PA Newborn v. Franklin Regional School
RI In re: B Family
TX J Family v. Social Security
VA B Family v. Social Security
VA D Family v. Social Security
VA In re: M Family
VA R Family v. Social Security
membership notes
Hey, Andrew!
Teach Me Some Greek!
...the easy way to learn!
{ the Inside Scoop }
The power of a
mouse click
by Chuck Hurst
"If you want to begin
the study of Greek with your family,
I recommend Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!
You will soon find your children, young and old, knowing
the alphabet, words, sentences, and ultimately translating
the Greek New Testament on their own."
- Diane Wheeler, The Old Schoolhouse™ Magazine
P.O. Box 882
Moline, IL 61266-0882
Did you know you can manage
your membership online? To
create an online account for HSLDA’s
website, simply visit our homepage
at and click on the Help
button next to the log-in field. Be sure
to include your membership account
number so that you can access not
only our webinars and special articles,
but also all our members-only
resources, such as state forms and
legal information about work permits
and driver’s education.
Your account number is seven
digits long, and you can find it on
your membership card or above your
address on the cover of this magazine.
Besides giving you access to forms and
other resources, your online account
helps you manage your membership.
You can update your address and (if you
have an auto-renew membership)
your payment information. You can even
print off a copy of your membership
card, as well as manually renew your
membership and take advantage of our
PerX member discount program.
If you haven’t already, be sure to create
an online account today!
Help homeschoolers in need
Speaking of online, here’s a simple
way to help struggling homeschoolers
>> I really appreciated the personal card that I received in the mail encouraging me
in my role as a homeschooling mom. Often I feel very weary and discouraged, and
when I received that card it totally reminded me of why I am doing this. Thank you!
Stefanie D. / Denver, CO
>> Can’t thank you enough for the
>> HSLDA has been wonderful!
times you came through for us when
We had a little resistance from
dealing with CPS as well as police, by
the public school system in
being on the other end of the phone
the beginning of the last year,
in their presence, or by just answering
but HSLDA provided us with a
our telephone questions.
letter and the resistance ended.
the S. family / Pasadena, TX
Thank you!
the C. family / Elm Grove, LA
>> Thank you for helping us to feel secure
in our decision to homeschool our child.
Charles and Liza M. / Barton, VT
>> It’s a blessing and comfort to know that
{ Member
Thoughts }
we have the support of HSLDA if there ever
came a time that we needed you. Your
encouragement and the Home School Court
Report let us know that we are not alone.
Even my children enjoy reading it.
the C. family / Piedmont, SC
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
“muffin meetings” in her department.
On August 1, 2013, Home School
Rhonda exemplified Proverbs 27:23:
Legal Defense Association lost our
“Be diligent to know the state of your
dear co-laborer Rhonda Maki. Rhonda
flocks, and attend to your herds.” Rhonda
was a “retired” homeschooling mother
looked out for the employees in her
who began working for HSLDA in Februdepartment, advocating for those around
ary 2000 and soon became supervisor of
the membership department.
Rhonda handled member accounts
and oversaw the daily operations of
the department. By faithfully seeing
to the small details, she allowed
HSLDA’s attorneys, legal assistants,
and membership staff to focus
directly on serving our members.
“Rhonda was one of the most
efficient supervisors we’ve ever
had in our membership department,” said HSLDA President
Mike Smith. “Those who worked
under her respected her greatly
Rhonda with her husband and
children, Christmas 2012.
because of her passion for
HSLDA and compassion for her
Rhonda Maki
her when she saw a need. She was
a powerful prayer warrior and would
While she took her responsibility
invite office staff to share prayer
to HSLDA and her fellow employrequests with her so she could pray over
ees very seriously, Rhonda was also a
them during her lunch hour.
source of fun and laughter in the office.
Her spiritual strength and hopefulness
When Rhonda served a prominent role
were evident even in the midst of her
in matching up two HSLDA members—a
cancer treatment. Rhonda encouraged
widow and widower—she earned the title
other chronically ill patients she met, say“Rent-a-Yenta” in our office. Rhonda loved
ing, “There’s so much more to life than
babies and consistently helped in her
being sick!”
church nursery. In fact, one of Rhonda’s
Our sympathy and prayers are with her
hiring criteria was, “Must play nicely with
husband, Jim, and her children, Heather
others.” A spirited leader, Rhonda was
and Kevin.
always the first to help decorate the office
We miss you, Rhonda! n
for Christmas and was famous for leading
courtesy of the family
Be sure to
create an HSLDA
online account
when you shop on the internet.
All you have to do is go to HSLDA’s
Clicks for Homeschooling page, hslda
.org/clicks4hs, and click on the link
to the store of your choice. Then
shop like you normally do—the store
will track you as a visitor from the
Clicks site and give a percentage of
what you spend to the Home School
The Foundation has a Clicks
affiliate agreement with dozens of
retailers, including,
Answers in Genesis, Family Christian
Stores, Rosetta Stone, National
Geographic Store, Staples, and many,
many others.
And here’s what’s really cool: the
Clicks program annually generates
over $30,000 in donations to the Home
School Foundation’s Compassion
Fund—through just one little purchase
at a time! If you haven’t started using
the Clicks page, we hope you’ll do so
today. n
The joy of the Lord is my strength and
that joy is contagious—much better to
spread joy than depression and gloom!
— Rhonda Maki
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
continued from page 9
Data collection must follow the 12 criteria set
down in the America COMPETES Act, which
requires states to collect any “information
determined necessary to address alignment
and adequate preparation for success in postsecondary education.” * The 23 states that did
not receive RTTT grants but are part of one
of the two consortia developing assessments
aligned to the Common Core are also committed to cataloging students from preschool
through the workforce.*
In addition, in 2011 the Department of
Education attached RTTT funding to its new
Early Learning Challenge (ELC). ELC gives
this money to states that meet standards
and mandates for early-education programs. Some of the standards that states
must meet to receive these special funds
involve establishing statewide databases.
Known as CEDS—Common Education Data
Standards—they are “voluntary, common
standards for a key set of education data
elements . . . at the early learning, K–12, and
postsecondary levels developed through a
national collaborative effort being led by the
National Center for Educational Statistics.” *
Supporters of RTTT are correct when they
say that there is not currently a central database kept by the U.S. Department of Education. However, the heavy involvement of the
federal government in enticing states to create databases of student-specific data that are
linked between states is creating a de facto
centralized database. Additionally, in 2012 the
U.S. Department of Labor announced $12 million in grants for states to build longitudinal
databases linking workforce and education
data.* Before our eyes a “national database”
is being created in which every public school
student’s personal information and academic
history will be stored.
How is the Common Core connected?
The adoption and implementation of the
Common Core State Standards has furthered
the government’s expansion efforts, because
the authors of the Common Core are clear:
the success of the standards hinges on the
increased collection of student data.* The
Data Quality Campaign clarifies by explain-
ing that the Common Core’s emphasis on
evaluating teachers based on their students’
academic performance and tracking students’ college and career readiness requires
broader data collection.*
The authors of the Common Core have
been heavily involved in developing data
models and overseeing data collection. The
National Governors Association started an
initiative to collect data on states’ postsecondary institutions. The Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation not only funded the
creation of the Common Core but currently
funds the Data Quality Campaign, one of the
leading voices on database expansion and
alignment. The Gates Foundation and CCSSO
previously partnered with the National Center for Education Statistics (a division of the
Department of Education) to build the State
Core Data Model, a model that includes data
from early childhood through the workforce.
CCSSO now manages another data model:
the National Education Data Model.
The connection between those pushing
the Common Core and these expansive new
databases is obvious. The Common Education
Data Standards, a division of the DOE, even
says, “The State Core Model will do for State
Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common
Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and
the two assessment consortia.” *
What can I do to stop this
data collection?
A crucial part of the responsibility of parents is protecting the privacy of their children.
This enables parents not only to guard their
children’s physical safety, but also to nurture
their individuality and secure opportunities
for them to pursue their dreams apart from
government interference. The rise of national
databases threatens these freedoms.
At the federal level, HSLDA continues to
work to defund and eliminate Race to the
Top, the Early Learning Challenge, and other
federal programs that are using federal
funds—your tax dollars—to entice the states
into creating national databases in exchange
for federal grants. But since RTTT and the ELC
are priorities of the Obama administration, it
will be difficult to end these programs.
The states, however, can choose to reject
these federal funds in order to safeguard
student data. Please contact your state
legislators, including your state’s governor,
to discuss this issue with them. Ask them
about their position on the issue, and urge
your state officials to reject these national
databases of student-specific data. (You
can locate contact information for state
and national legislators through
For information on the status of
your state’s databases, see
commoncore. n
Adapted from an article originally published
at Will Estrada
is HSLDA’s director of federal relations. Katie
Tipton is a legislative assistant at HSLDA and a
junior majoring in government at Patrick Henry
* NOTE: Complete citations
are included in the online
version of this article at
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
Health care for
people of Biblical faith
If you are a committed Christian, you can live consistently with your beliefs by sharing medical needs directly with fellow believers through Samaritan Ministries’ non-insurance approach.
You do not have to violate your faith by purchasing health insurance that pays for abortions,
abortifacient drugs, and other unbiblical practices. Health care sharing satisfies the individual
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Every month the more than 27,000* households of Samaritan Ministries share over $7 million*
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Biblical faith
applied to health care
Homeschooling thru high school
{ Getting There }
Along with these, you could add a financial management or home economics
course to teach life skills.
It is usually not difficult to select sufficient electives—one or two for each year
of high school—to augment your teen’s
high school program. However, if you
need ideas, we’ve suggested many options
in the Individual Subject Curriculum 1
and Life Skills 2 sections of the HSLDA
high school website. Additional possibilities are included in the article “Preparing
for College.” 3
Electives and extracurriculars: What’s
the difference?
by Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
activities, on the other
hand, fall outside of
your teen’s academic
course work. They
are optional, are not
awarded credits or
grades, and are not
Diane Kummer
included on a high
school transcript. However, they will
receive recognition when placed on your
teen’s resume or listed on a college application or extracurricular sheet.
It is important to leave time for extracurricular activities, since they not only
enrich your teen’s high school years, but
© hslda / Art cox
© hslda / Art cox
The high school years introduce families to many new things—including
new terminology. Two terms parents
will come across are
elective course and
extracurricular activity. These terms are
sometimes confused,
but once parents
understand the differences between
Becky Cooke
them, they can add
value and zest to a high school program.
Each type of activity offers significant
benefits for homeschool teens, so it’s
important to include both in your teen’s
An elective is considered part of the
academic course load that makes up your
teen’s high school program. Electives
are usually in subject areas that are not
covered by normal high school academic
requirements. Electives are evaluated,
awarded credit, and included on a transcript just like any other high school
Electives can be a source of motivation for your teen if you choose courses
of interest to him, or those that allow
him to explore a career or learn a new
skill. These classes will also help colleges and employers learn more about
your teen—his interests, abilities, or
character traits. Since there is an endless array of elective possibilities, it’s
wise to choose a mix of academic and
practical courses. For example, you
might consider courses in art, music,
computer skills, or even archaeology.
Here For You
HSLDA members may contact our
high school consultants, Becky Cooke and
Diane Kummer, for advice on teaching
teens. Call 540-338-5600 or visit
Check out for
more helpful information on teaching teens.
Brochures: For help on topics from
developing a plan for high school to
preparing your teen for the workforce,
go to
• Email newsletter & archives:
• High school consultants’ blog:
can help motivate her to develop abilities,
serve others, and build healthy habits for
adulthood. This type of participation is
another window through which colleges,
scholarship committees, employers, and
military recruiters learn more about
your teen. They can be a ready source of
letters of recommendation from coaches,
instructors, and supervisors. Also, there
are scholarships specifically for participation in such areas as community service,
music, and athletics. And don’t forget—
these opportunities can also be for fun!
There’s no shortage of extracurricular
activities for teens. In fact, high schoolers
sometimes take on too many activities—
to the detriment of their academic work.
Encourage your teen to develop more
skills, expertise, or leadership qualities in
just a handful of areas. You will find that
most colleges are interested in a student
who has carefully selected a few activities
to pour his heart into, rather than one
who is superficially engaged in many different activities. When it comes to extracurriculars, quality is more important
than quantity.
What should be the criteria for
choosing extracurricular activities? Each teen’s situation and
goals will be unique. However, some good factors
to consider include your
teen’s post–high school
plans, time commitment
required, social interaction, and cost. Such a list
will help you and your teen
thoughtfully choose extracurricular activities.
Whether you consider a particular
activity as an elective course or an
extracurricular activity is your choice.
Your decision should take into account
not only what the activity involves,
but also what your teen plans to do
after high school.
Let’s say that your daughter is a
dancer and receives roles in her studio’s
recitals. You may use this activity to
fulfill her physical education or fine arts
of activit
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
credit, showing it on her transcript as an
elective course. This choice limits you to
giving it a course title, grade, and credit.
However, your daughter may be pursuing
dance as a future career and, along with
the lessons, is taking exams to achieve
levels of expertise, attending summer
intensives, and auditioning for dancing
roles in theatrical productions. If this is
the case, you may want to keep the activity off the transcript and instead suggest
your daughter include it on her resume,
where she can provide more descriptive
Whether an activity is used as an elective or an extracurricular, it is important
to keep records. For an elective course,
document the course description, number
of hours logged or title of textbook used,
final grade, and credits earned.
Even though extracurricular activities
will not appear on the transcript, it is
important to document them. Parents
think they will never forget their son’s
championship baseball season. You won’t
forget the big game, but you may have
difficulty remembering the coach’s name
and the dates
your son
played. A
log in
ty offers
you note any honors or awards received;
contact information for your teen’s
coaches, teachers, or supervisors; important dates; and an approximate number of
hours of involvement will save you time
and angst when your teen is completing
college and scholarship applications and
writing a resume.
As you decide whether to label an
activity as an elective or an extracurricular, keep in mind that if every activity is
listed as credit on your student’s transcript, you’ll not only end up with a ton
of credits, but the important core courses
could be lost in the sea of electives. The
average college-bound student will complete six to eight credits per school year.
Showing more credits may appear as if
you are inflating the number of courses
In the end, remember that there is
no right or wrong way to categorize a
particular activity. Electives round out
the high school program, while extracurricular activities enhance your teen’s
life outside academics. Involve your teens
in selecting a variety of electives and
extracurricular activities—and watch
their motivation and enthusiasm grow! n
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer are
HSLDA high school consultants.
>> HOME Convention
March 20–22 / Rockport, ME
Diane Kummer
Contact: Homeschoolers of Maine
>> UTCH Convention
March 21–22 / Salt Lake City, UT
Michael Farris & Becky Cooke
Contact: Utah Christian Home School
Association at
>> IAHE Convention
March 28–29 / Indianapolis, IN
Darren Jones & Becky Cooke
Contact: Indiana Association of Home
Educators at
>> Eastern Panhandle Home School
March 29 / Shepherdstown, WV
Michael Donnelly
Contact: EPHSC at 304-876-8535
>> High School at Home: Turning
Possibility into Reality
April 12 / Asheville, NC
Diane Kummer
Contact: Biltmore Baptist Church
Homeschool at [email protected]
>> 25th APACHE Homeschool Convention
April 24–25 / Peoria, IL
Becky Cooke & Vicki Bentley
Contact: Association of Peoria Area
Christian Home Educators at [email protected]
>> 25th Annual Christian Homeschool
and Family Discipleship Convention
April 24–26 / Worcester, MA
Michael Donnelly, Faith Berens
& Diane Kummer
Contact: Massachusetts Homeschool
Organization of Parent Educators
at [email protected]
>> APHEA Homeschool Conference
com stoc m
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
April 25–26 / Anchorage, AK
Michael Farris & Tracy Klicka
Contact: Alaska Private and Home
Educators Association at [email protected]
For the most up-to-date list,
visit and click on
“HSLDA Channel.”
Patrick Henry COllege
{ About Campus }
scholarship sends
students abroad
by Alicia Constant
Sarah Chaffee’s love for the Chinese
culture began her freshman year at
Patrick Henry College, when she taught
English at a camp for Chinese kids.
Three generations of her family have
been involved in missions work in
China, and the seeds they had
planted began to take root in
her own heart.
“I left [camp] with a
desire not to just teach
them my language, but to
learn theirs,” she said. She
began taking Mandarin classes online
to fulfill her college language requirement, but she hoped to find a way to
practice Chinese among native speakers.
The Ariana’s Children Memorial
Scholarship, a newly created fellowship
Sarah Chaffee
(right) enjoys
a traditional
Chinese meal.
for international study funded by PHC
alumni, made that desire possible.
The scholarship was formed to commemorate five young Afghans—Nawab,
Eeza, Parwana, Khorshid, and Assad—
who were killed in a suicide bombing in
Kabul in 2012.
“Solving the tenacious problems that
lead to this kind of tragedy requires
an atypical, comprehensive approach
that we believe is fostered in international programs,” said John Curry, a
2009 graduate who founded the
program along with several
other alumni. “It’s hard to
describe how fulfilling it
is to open Dostoyevsky
and realize, ‘I’ve watched
a sunset from the spot in
Moscow he’s describing,’ or
study Calvin’s Institutes and say, ‘I’ve
worshiped in his church,’ or write an
exam question on economics in Central
Asia and incorporate perspectives from
conversations you’ve had with Kyrgyz
women forming small businesses on the
outskirts of Bishkek.”
This year marked the first year that
the scholarship was awarded to two
A month in china
Chaffee, a senior government major
with an emphasis in international relations, spent over a month in China,
participating in an intense language
tutoring and immersion program, while
junior Briahna Howells studied Arabic
in Jordan.
Unlike her freshman-year trip,
Chaffee lived with a Chinese host family, used Mandarin daily, and formed
deeper relationships. Her host parents,
the Rens, did not speak English, though
their English-speaking daughter was
home on summer break from college in
“Every morning we had breakfast
together, which isn’t like breakfast in
the U.S. It’s usually dou jiang (hot
bowls of soybean milk) and whatever
vegetables they’d cooked up the night
before, and fruit—and always a boiled
egg,” she said.
Chaffee spent about 11 hours per week
in tutoring sessions with Evergreen, a
Christian public benefit organization in
Taiyuan, Shanxi. Her two main tutors,
Annie and Sharon, taught her grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, basic
character writing, and religious Chinese.
Courtesy of sarah chaffee
For any PHC student
studying international
issues, travel provides an
opportunity to learn what
it means to ‘love their
neighbors as themselves’
on an international scale.
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
Outside of class, she studied intensely.
“Learning Chinese is not like
learning Spanish or French: you learn
not just phonetics, but the character
and the tones. With a language like
Spanish, all you have to think about
is your original language and the
Spanish translation. With Chinese,
you’re thinking about your original
language, the Chinese translation, the
tones, and the characters.” Thus, when
her teachers expected her to conversationally master 15 characters after
two hours of instruction, “that’s actually
a really big deal.”
International travel is also crucial to
understanding and loving people from
other cultural backgrounds, Curry
said: “For any PHC student studying
international issues, travel provides an
opportunity to learn what it means to
‘love their neighbors as themselves’ on
an international scale, then bring that
experience back to Purcellville, or wherever their calling takes them.”
Chaffee had the opportunity to make
weekly visits to a local government-run
orphanage to play with and offer love to
the children there, an experience that she
said was “overwhelming at first.”
“A lot of them had muscle atrophy,
so we did a lot of basic stretches with
them . . . Also, it was just giving the kids
one-on-one attention,” she said. “There
is definitely a need, but they are so bright
and so open to being loved.”
Learning Arabic in Jordan
As the second Ariana award recipient,
Briahna Howells spent the summer in an
Arabic immersion program in Jordan.
“It’s been amazing to meet people
from all over the world studying Arabic
in Jordan,” she said. “I feel like it’s really
humbling to try and learn another
language because you’re basically a 2ndgrade level or below, trying to communicate with people who have been speaking
it all their lives.”
She visited the Jordan River, the
Red Sea, Petra, and a number of other
landmarks around the country. One of
her favorite adventures was staying with
Bedouins in the desert, watching the
sunset and sleeping under millions of
stars, far from the lights and pollution of
the city.
Howells and her roommate
decided to fast during the Muslim
holy month of Ramadan, both to see
what it was like and to show respect
for the Jordanian culture. During
Ramadan, Amman’s entire schedule
becomes nocturnal. From 4:00 a.m.
to 7:45 p.m., everybody fasts and catches
a few hours of sleep. At around 7:45 p.m.,
Howells would eat for the first time
that day, stay up until about 4:00 a.m.
hanging out with friends, and then
catch a few hours of sleep, go to class,
sleep some more, and repeat the cycle
the next day.
“Fasting for Ramadan is supposed to
be a cleansing experience, a time to pray
and grow closer to God. These are similar
Patrick Henry college
Education for truth,
Combining the same classical
Truth for leadership,
liberal arts curriculum that
shaped many of our country’s
All for Christ… Founding
Fathers with a campus
environment of passionate Christian discipleship, Patrick
Henry College is equipping leaders to shape the
culture and serve the
For Christ & for Liberty
To find out more, visit us at
Patrick Henry College is certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
It’s amazing to meet people from all
over the world studying Arabic in Jordan.
been able to come to Jordan
otherwise.” n
Alicia Constant is a senior
journalism major
at Patrick Henry College.
After graduation,
she hopes to
pursue an MA and
PhD in literature.
Excerpted from
an article
16, 2013.
Courtesy of briahna howells
reasons to the reasons why Christians fast,” she said. “It’s an amazing
moment when you can sit down and
eat for the first time that day.”
She developed a love for Arabic
foods, such as kabobs, pita bread
with hummus, cheese with grain
drenched in honey, mango juice,
meat cooked in yogurt, and very strong
black coffee.
Other aspects of Jordanian culture
required more getting used to: “There’s
a lot of segregation among men and
women, a lot of do’s and don’ts. We take
taxis to get everywhere, and women
should not sit in the front seat of the
taxi, and there’s a lot more rules and
more waiting.”
Howells hopes to graduate with her
degree in strategic intelligence in 2015.
“[Studying abroad is] expensive, and it
would be coming out of my own pocket
because the [program] was not through
PHC,” Howells said. “I was very thankful for [the Ariana’s Children Memorial
Scholarship] because I would not have
Briahna Howells
experiences Jordanian
history and culture.
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
continued from page 46
public school officials are concerned
about homeschooling’s rising popularity. Some of these folks do not believe
homeschooling could ever be the best
education for a child—at minimum,
they believe homeschooling must be
much more regulated, calling for curriculum approval, teacher qualifications
for parents, and mandatory testing
to determine a family’s ability to
Recognizing that its widespread
popularity would make banning
homeschooling nearly impossible,
these opponents are trying to roll back
homeschooling freedom through state
legislation. Thankfully, with rare exception, their efforts have been thwarted up
to this point.
While the federal government has no
constitutional role in education,
the United States Department of
Education has become a major
player in the field—partly
through using
taxpayer dollars to
“bribe” states into
compliance. This
reality, combined
with the establishment’s general belief
that it’s good for government to be involved
in education, has led to
national one-size-fits-none programs such as the Common Core.
As the Common Core is implemented
across the nation, homeschooled
students could soon find their personal
student data tracked in national
databases and their diplomas and
transcripts rejected by colleges, trade
schools, and employers. (See
several erroneous generalizations: they
assume that all parents homeschool
for religious reasons, that all homeschooled children are not exposed to
diverse beliefs and ideas, and that this
educational choice creates intolerant
attitudes—among which they would list
believing that Jesus is the only way to
heaven. Their solution? Forced oversight
by public schools, along with mandatory
instruction in all the philosophies taught
in public schools.
United Nations treaties
Current U.S. law presumes
that parents act in the best interest of
their children and have a fundamental
right to choose home education for
their family. To terminate that choice,
a state must first prove that a family is
not in compliance with the homeschool
law. The UN Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
and the Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC), if signed by the
U.S., would replace that legal
standard with a different
one, under which government bureaucrats
and courts—instead
of parents—would
decide the best interest of the child. (See and
The new best interest
standard will deal a severe blow
to U.S. freedom if either of these treaties
is ratified by our Senate.
is worth
Antireligious backlash
Some academic scholars and law
school professors have concluded that
homeschooling must be bad based on
What can you do?
By staying alert to these dangers, we
can keep homeschooling strong and
vibrant for years to come. Let’s continue
to educate our children responsibly,
participate in grassroots activism, and
be involved in homeschool support
organizations at the local, state, and
national levels. The more homeschoolers
are part of this effort, the stronger our
voice will be.
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report
As we saw in this issue’s cover story,
the past 30 years of homeschool freedom have blessed many people—not
just homeschooled children themselves,
but their parents, grandparents, and
larger communities. Second-generation
homeschoolers are stepping forward,
learning from their own and their
parents’ experiences, and reimagining homeschooling for their children.
Grandparents are not only actively
supporting and encouraging their adult
children in homeschooling, but they’re
also helping protect freedom.
Homeschooling is worth preserving. We thank you for standing
shoulder to shoulder with us, defending freedom for our grandchildren’s
grandchildren. n
{Advertiser’s index}
Advertising with us
Contact: Call Advertising at 540-3388605, visit, or email
[email protected]
Disclaimer: The appearance of advertisements in the Court Report does not imply
recommendation or endorsement by
Home School Legal Defense Association,
and the opinions expressed by advertisers do not necessarily reflect the views of
HSLDA. Use of any information, product,
or service herein advertised is voluntary, and reliance upon it should only be
undertaken after independent review.
Advertisers in this issue
Apologia Educational Ministries......2, 34
Greek ’n’ Stuff....................................... 36
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt...................47
Home School Foundation.................... 28
HSLDA Resources....................... 8, 19, 44
HSLDA’s Generation Joshua.................32
HSLDA’s Home School Heartbeat........... 8
Patrick Henry College..................... 36, 43
Patrick Henry College Preparatory
Rosetta Stone....................................... 48
Samaritan Ministries............................ 39
TellMeMore............................................. 5
thoughts from mike smith
{ the Last Word }
are often unaware of past struggles to gain
the freedom they enjoy today—or what it
takes to keep that freedom. Not being connected with a homeschool group means
they may not receive or understand the
importance of our requests for grassroots
help to defeat bad legislation.
In addition, homeschooling “on your
own” often means missing out on all the
great ideas and loving encouragement
others can offer you. There’s no substitute
for a face-to-face community of fellow
The next 30 years
As I write this article, Home School
Legal Defense Association is wrapping up our 30th year. That’s right—we’ve
been defending parents’ right to teach
their children at home for three decades!
Back in 1983, when HSLDA started,
the legal climate for homeschooling
was very different. Few states even
allowed it. Where it was allowed, many
states demanded, at a minimum, that
homeschooling parents have teacher
certification. Today, no state requires
teacher certification, and most have no
specific educational qualifications for
parents / homeschool instructors. Over
30 state legislatures and boards of education combined have expressly recognized
homeschooling as a legal option, and
homeschooling continues to grow in
numbers and acceptance. This is fantastic
news! We are so grateful for the teamwork we enjoy with state and regional
homeschool organizations and so thankful for God’s blessing on this movement.
As we look down the road, we want
to see another 30 years of homeschool
freedom. For that to be possible, though,
we all need to keep an eye out for some
potential pitfalls—threats to freedom that
can emerge from inside and outside the
Lack of knowledge (due to lack
of connection with organized
support networks)
Despite the overall growth of homeschooling, support groups are shrinking.
Less than 10% of all homeschoolers attend
homeschool conventions, and only 10–15%
are part of HSLDA. While beginners can
easily find curriculum and answers to
practical teaching questions online, they
© HSLDA / art cox
by Mike Smith
Although these programs seem to allow
more flexibility and parental involvement
in children’s education, they ultimately
require families to trade part of their educational freedom for state funding.
Names for these programs vary, but
what the programs have in common is
that the state buys the families curriculum and provides computer assistance
and extracurricular activities. Curriculum choice is limited to what the program
approves, religious education is not
allowed, and the family must follow state
administrator requirements, including
mandated testing.
Another way complacency occurs is
if we forget that not everyone believes
in homeschool freedom. Because
opponents regularly attempt to regulate
Keep an eye out
for some potential
to freedom that can
emerge from inside
and outside the
J. Michael Smith, President
of Home School Legal Defense Association
homeschoolers. If you don’t have one, I
encourage you to look one up in your area
We can never take our freedom
for granted. Unfortunately, it’s
easy to become so comfortable with the
status quo that we’re willing to give up a
little freedom to stay that way. That’s why
HSLDA doesn’t encourage participation
in government programs such as virtual
charter schools—“public schools at home.”
or restrict home education through
state legislatures, HSLDA works with
state homeschool organizations each
year to monitor proposed bills for their
impact on our freedom. Your grassroots
involvement—personally contacting your
government representatives when there is
a threat to freedom in your statehouse—is
what keeps homeschool freedom moving
forward, not back.
Opposition from the education
The National Education Association,
many education bureaucrats, and many
continued on page 45
The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013 • 800.225.5425
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And much more
fo r HSLDA’s
Preschool Parents
parents of preschoolers
{ Play > Learn > Grow }
learning with life
by Vicki Bentley
I’m so excited to share John
Rosemond’s wisdom with you in
this issue’s preschool supplement. I
have followed John’s
newspaper column
since my early days
of motherhood, and
I hope you too will
find inspiration and
encouragement in
his common-sense
by Vicki Bentley
approach to parenting
and child development.
As your child’s parent and first
teacher, you
will find
that many
aspects of
teaching come
naturally in
the flow of
life. From
the time we
begin speaking to our
little ones as we feed,
dress, and diaper them,
we introduce colors,
numbers, shapes, size,
social skills, emotional
development, listening
skills, reading readiness,
and motor skills.
Other aspects might require
You are
the best
person for
the job!
a bit more preparation on
your part, but can still
easily fit into your child’s
daily routine and play.
You are the best person for
the job!
According to the late Barbara Curtis, a Montessori teacher,
homeschool mother of 12, and author of
Mom tips << Curing cabin fever
We asked our HSLDA coworkers for tips on teaching
preschoolers and beating the winter blues. Here are
some of their suggestions.
Make learning fun!
>> Preschool “lessons” last about 10 minutes, or however long your child is interested.
>> Lessons conducted while the student is jumping off
the couch onto pillows are perfectly acceptable.
>>Colorful worksheets are short, bite-sized, fun
>> For beginning readers, write funny sentences with
easy words and the child’s name: “Hannah is a ladybug.” Using sibling names is usually a hit, too.
>> Don’t be quick to discipline for “disobedience.” A
bad attitude often means the child is done learning,
and it’s time to go play.
Get messy!
>> Spread shaving cream all over a table, countertop, or
cookie sheet to write letters or draw shapes. Then
wipe it off and start all over again.
>> Spread pudding on a sheet of wax paper to write
letters, draw shapes, etc. Then they can lick
their fingers!
>> Mix two parts tempera paint with one part dish
detergent. Allow children to paint on the outside of a sliding glass door or window—
then hose it off!
Make chores exciting!
>> Get everyone together to clean. Make
sure assignments are clear and within
each participant’s skill level. Play some
lively music while you work.
>>Keep the cleaning time short. Set a
timer for 15–20 minutes and make
it a game to see how much you
can get done in that time.
>> After the chores are done,
everyone who helped should
be given a treat, go for a walk,
do some sledding, play games,
or sing together. Each child can
take turns picking the treat or
fun activity.
online supplement— The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013
© comstock
Facilitating your
child’s development
Here For You
Did you find this article helpful?
Find more resources on HSLDA’s
Toddlers to Tweens website at Or
explore the archives of our Home
School Heartbeat programs at You
may also take advantage of your
HSLDA member benefits by calling Vicki Bentley at 540-338-5600
for answers to your particular
questions about homeschooling.
Mommy, Teach Me! (hslda
we can help our little ones
develop five qualities that will facilitate
their lifelong education: independence,
order, self-control, concentration, and
We can create a learning environment
that develops these qualities through
sorting, pouring, matching, puzzles,
imaginative play, foundational math,
nature studies, culture, fine arts, and
lots of read-aloud time.
Your home is a wonderful place
for your child to learn. Now,
go find a book and snuggle
on the couch with your
preschooler! n
Vicki is HSLDA’s Toddlers
to Tweens consultant.
She and her husband
homeschooled 17 children
and led a support group
of over 250 families.
Every human being is, from the moment
of conception, programmed for competency. In order to activate this tremendously
rich and varied program, all
parents need to do is provide
the growing child with
stimulating environments
and a variety of interesting
experiences that together
serve to enable the exercise
of competency behaviors.
This is nothing more than a
developmental formula for
by John
bringing out the best in a
child, and every adult who
lives with, teaches, or takes care of children
shares that pressing moral responsibility.
Seeing to this obligation is neither difficult nor technically demanding, and there
is great benefit to both parent and child in
doing so. If you properly assist the development of competency skills, your child will
become more independent more quickly,
and as you probably already know, his ability to occupy his own time creatively will be
the greatest of all boons to you. So, wasting
no time, here are some dos and don’ts for
setting up a home-based competency program. Most of it can be accomplished for
next to nothing.
>> Child-proof your home. Put well out of
reach anything that poses a health hazard
to your youngster (cleaning fluids, bottles
of alcohol-based products, knives, medicines, etc.) as well as items that are valuable
and/or irreplaceable (heirloom ceramics,
crystal, old photographs, etc.). Child-proof
as much of the house as possible in order to
“open” it to your child’s explorations. Don’t,
however, just make your home safe; make
it stimulating as well. Put things within your
child’s reach that will be interesting for him
to handle and taste and take apart. The
more opportunities a child has to express
curiosity, the more his mind will expand.
>> Minimize the use of playpens and
other restrictive furniture and devices.
This injunction also applies to cribs, walkers, high chairs, and table seats. Playpens
have their pros and cons: Used wisely and
Autumn 2013 • The Home School Court Report— online supplement
Support homeschooling when you
shop online with HSLDA’s easy
Clicks4Homeschooling program:
sparingly, a playpen can perform a valuable
service for parents as well as provide a toddler with a safe, albeit temporary (please!),
place to stay while a parent cooks, talks on
the phone, or goes to the bathroom. . . .
When left unattended in playpens for long
periods, children become bored, frustrated,
and even depressed. The best policy is not
to use a playpen for more than a few minutes at a time, no more than three or four
times a day. If possible, put the playpen in
the room you’ll be in and talk to your child
while you go about your business.
>> Encourage and promote a variety of
outdoor activities. Make sure your child
enjoys plenty of outdoor time. Toddlers
generally love to play in sand, be pushed
in a swing, take walks, or just roam out of
doors, collecting things. While your child is
outside, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to
do nothing but sit and just watch or read
a book as long as you balance these sorts
of things with some playful interaction.
Remember: Whether pushing your tot on a
swing, rolling a ball back and forth between
you, or wrestling in the grass, it’s never too
late to have a happy childhood!
>> Encourage and promote indoor
activity. The more time your child spends
indoors, the more important it is that you
provide opportunities for large-muscle
development. If you don’t provide a menu
of appropriate activities, your naturally
active and curious child will no doubt invent
some that won’t be to your liking (e.g.,
scaling bookshelves). Indoor slides, indoor
climbing apparatus, and other equipment
of this sort stimulate gross-motor development. Since young children love nothing
more than bouncing on their beds, you
might even consider buying a sturdy box
spring, setting it off to one side of your
child’s room or playroom, and letting him
bounce on it to his heart’s content.
>> Encourage and promote fine-motor
development. It’s as important that children
develop good fine-motor skills as it is that
they develop good gross-motor ones. Provide your toddler with plenty of crayons
and paper, blocks, and interlocking
construction toys such as those
from Lego (the toddler line is
called Duplo). Show your child
how things work, how they
come apart, and how to put
them back together.
>> Read to your child.
A home-based competency program
recognizes not only
the growing child’s
need for physical activity, but also his need for
intellectual and creative
stimulation. Being read to fits
the bill perfectly. Beginning no later than
age 6 months, preschoolers should be read
to each and every day. Initially, because
your child’s attention span is short, these
sessions will last no longer than five minutes
or so. By age 3, you should be reading to
your child no less than 30 minutes a day.
>> Talk to your child. Converse, even if
the child’s “conversation” makes little, if
any, sense. Demonstrate and talk about
how things work. Ask simple questions and
answer your child’s questions with simple,
direct answers. Before going into a store or
any other public situation, tell your child how
you expect him to behave. Use language
your child can understand—language that’s
concrete as opposed to being filled with lots
of grown-up abstractions (e.g., “good”).
>> Don’t buy your child lots of toys. . . .
You can help develop your child’s imagination and resourcefulness (the ability to do
a lot with a little) by not buying him a lot.
Where toys are concerned, less is definitely
more. The few toys you buy should be ones
your child can take apart on his own and
that allow for lots of creative, constructive
behavior. Crayons, clay, Lincoln Logs, Lego
(or Duplo), Bristle Blocks, and large cardboard “bricks” are appropriate.
. . . Remember also that in most cases a
toddler would rather play with the box a toy
came in than the toy itself. When our son,
Eric, was 2, his toys consisted of some large
cardboard bricks, a toy truck, a couple of
stuffed animals, a ball, and a large appliance
box I’d made into a playhouse. He could
play for hours by himself, proving it’s not
important how many toys a child has, but
what he’s able to do with them.
So-called “educational” toys? Children can
do without them. Generally speaking, claims
that a certain toy was designed to promote
such-and-such a specific developmental
skill are hollow. Essential
developmental skills
will emerge on their
own as long as a
child is allowed sufficient opportunity
to explore and
experiment with
a variety of
>> Shut
off the
of value to the life of a growing child. In
fact, developmentally speaking, television
is a deprivational experience, which is why I
recommend not exposing a child to much, if
any, television until he or she has learned to
read and reads well.
>> Play with your child. While I’m by no
means suggesting that you should become
your child’s primary playmate, it’s important
that you make time for relaxed, playful interactions with your toddler. Play is, after all, the
most important thing young children do. Play
promotes the growth of imagination and creativity. Games of “let’s pretend,” which children begin showing interest in shortly after
their second birthday, help them understand
and prepare for adult roles. More sophisticated games, which come later, promote
social problem-solving skills and help children
develop healthy attitudes toward competition. Play also provides children a safe way of
expressing socially unacceptable thoughts
and feelings. The list goes on: Play exercises
gross- and fine-motor skills, strengthens language development, and stretches attention
span. In addition, play bolsters initiative and
resourcefulness. Because it is self-rewarding,
play fosters good self-esteem. Last, but by
no means least, because it is fun, play helps
children develop a good sense of humor.
Studies show that children who enjoy
ample opportunity for play are more
independent, resourceful, and tolerant of
frustration. When they go to school, they
In most cases a toddler would rather play with
the box a toy came in than the toy itself.
television is a “passivity,” not an “activity.”
Not only is the watcher physically inactive,
he’s mentally inactive as well. According to
reliable figures, verified by Nielsen survey
after Nielsen survey, the average American preschool child watches an amazing
5,000 hours of television before age 6
(and Nielsen doesn’t even count hours
watched before a child’s second birthday)!
That’s one-fourth of a child’s discretionary
time, time that otherwise would be spent
in meaningful physical and mental activity of the kind that promotes creativity,
imagination, and intelligence. Remember
our formula for promoting competency
behaviors? Consider that television is not an
experience that involves the exercise of any
competency skill. It therefore lends nothing
are, by and large, the better readers. They
are more curious and imaginative. They
have better social skills, are less aggressive,
and are better at both winning and losing.
They like themselves better. All in all, they
are more fun to be around, for both adults
and other children.
John Rosemond is a nationally syndicated
family psychologist and author of twelve
bestselling books on childrearing and family
life. Visit and parentingby for more insights and encouragement!
This article was adapted with permission
from pages 42–46 of John Rosemond’s book
Making the “Terrible Twos” Terrific! (Kansas
City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 1993).
online supplement— The Home School Court Report • Autumn 2013