California Bill Would Require Fire Inspections For Homeschool Families

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California Would Require Fire Inspections For Homeschool Families

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Homeschool families in California might get a visit from the fire marshal if proposed legislation becomes law.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2756 would require fire inspections for home schools.

“The bill would require the Superintendent to prepare a list of private schools with five or fewer pupils and to provide the list directly to the State Fire Marshal, the chief of a city or county fire department or district providing fire protection services to the area in which the school is located, and the chief’s authorized representatives to fulfill a specified annual inspection,” The Legislative Counsel’s Digest said of AB 2756.

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The bill would direct the State Fire Marshal to prepare minimum requirements for any school with less than less than five students. The State Fire Marshal or city or county fire departments would then have to inspect homeschools for compliance every year.

The bill would allow for warrantless searches of homeschool families’ homes, Mike Smith of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) charged.

“Government officials would be empowered to enter a home without a warrant, reasonable cause, or consent,” Smith wrote of AB 2756. “In other words, this is a clear violation of protections we have under both the federal and state constitutions. Our homes are meant to be free from this type of unlawful state actions.”

Smith also alleged that fire safety is not the real intent of AB 2756.

“The intent of the bill is to protect children from abuse, but there is no evidence that homeschooled children are more likely to be abused than other children,” Smith wrote. “The bill unreasonably and unjustly singles out homeschooling families for this invasion of their homes. If every home with children were subject to this type of scrutiny, society would not stand for it.”

AB 2756 was introduced by assembly members Jose Medina (D-Riverside), Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego). It was co-written by Assembly Member Freddie Rodriquez (D-Pomona).

“Because of its reputation as a political and cultural trend-setter, passage of additional homeschool restrictions in California could influence lawmakers in others states to propose similar laws,” Smith warned.

Would you support such a bill? Share your thoughts in the section below:

California Targets Homeschoolers Following Tragedy; Home Visits Possible

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Calls for severely regulating homeschooling in California have begun in the wake of the horrific Turpin child-abuse case that made national headlines.

“There’s no better way to isolate your child if you are an abusive parent than to homeschool,” Rachel Coleman, the executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling, told NBC 4 in Los Angeles.

Two California state assembly members, Susan Talamantes-Eggman (D-Stockton) and Jose Medina (D-Riverside), want to increase restrictions on homeschooling. The two are partnering with the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torkalson, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board is among those pushing for tougher restrictions. David and Louise Turpin are accused of keeping their 13 child starved, chained up and living in filth.

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“The answer is that the couple exploited California’s lax homeschooling laws to keep the authorities from finding out what they were doing to their kids,” a Bee editorial charges. “ … Beyond local zoning and fire codes and an annual registration to show that the children enrolled are not truant, private schools have scant oversight in California. The state Department of Education doesn’t approve, monitor, inspect or oversee them. They don’t have to perform standardized testing. The state can’t monitor their academic performance or review their curricula.”

California, the editorial board said, should “follow the lead of New York and Pennsylvania, which require standardized testing and regular assessments.”

“It might also take the labor-intensive step of requiring site visits, as with private day care centers,” the editorial board said.

Civil Rights Violated?

But some say increased regulation is a bad idea.

“We are concerned … that this horrible incident – words fail to describe the depravity – may lead to an unwarranted backlash and violation of the civil rights of law-abiding, thriving, homeschooling families,” James R. Mason of the Home School Legal Defense Association wrote in a Sacramento Bee op-ed.

“The story out of Riverside has prompted The Sacramento Bee and others to adopt a frightening position,” Mason charged.

He summed up the position: “This parent who claims to be home schooling has committed unspeakable acts. Therefore, we need to treat all parents who claim to be home schooling with suspicion and make them submit to periodic government inspections of their homes and children.”

Mason then quoted a 1979 Supreme Court decision that affirmed homeschooling: “That some parents ‘may at times be acting against the interests of their children’ … creates a basis for caution, but it is hardly a reason to discard wholesale those pages of human experience that teach that parents generally do act in the child’s best interest. … The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.”

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:


School District Threatens To Throw Away Homeschool Family’s Official Notice

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School District Threatens To Throw Away Homeschool Family’s Official Notice

An Ohio school district has found a new way to discourage families from homeschooling. The unidentified district simply refused to accept any notices of intent from homeschool families — even official documents, says the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA).

Even though a mother complied with all the district’s requests, officials refused to accept her homeschooling application until she called an attorney, according to HSDLA.

The controversy began when the parents withdrew their son midway through the spring semester.

“That same day, the parents hand-delivered a notice of intent to homeschool to the school district. From the beginning, the district caused problems,” HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly wrote.

The district told the parents that “until the parents notified the county educational service centers (ESCs) of their intent to withdraw,” their son was truant.

The parents then contacted the ESC and were told that their notice to the local district “was all that was necessary to withdraw their son,” Donnelly wrote.

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The family subsequently sent another notice of intent to the school district – this time by certified mail.

“A few days later, the mother received a call from the assistant principal, who insisted that the family file their intent to homeschool via a specific county form,” Donnelly wrote.

The mother then filled out the form – the third attempt at filing a notice – but was told by email that the district was “unable to process [their] request” and that they should notify the ESC. HSLDA responded for the family, telling the superintendent that Ohio law “requires notification to and excuse from the local superintendent, not the ESC.”

“The next day, the school’s attorney notified HSLDA that she was reviewing the situation,” Donnelly wrote. “However, the school district also sent an email to the family, threatening to discard the notification form if no one picked it up within a week. HSLDA contacted the school’s attorney again, expressing concern that the district would seek to destroy a lawfully submitted document.”

In response, the school’s attorney assured HSLDA that the district would not “take measures to hamper your client’s interest in homeschooling” and that the excuse “process is now underway,” Donnelly wrote.

After “prolonged correspondence” with the school’s attorney, “the parents received written confirmation that their child had been excused for homeschooling effective the date they originally submitted the original notice of intent” – that is, the date they had turned it in two months before.

“Many Ohio districts insist that families seeking to withdraw their students from the public school system use a specific notification form to do so, or send notification to the county educational service center,” Donnelly wrote. “HSLDA continues to advocate for our Ohio member families and educate school districts of their responsibility under Ohio law.”

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Homeschool Family’s Kids May Be Hauled To Public School By Police

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Homeschool Family’s Kids May Be Hauled To Public School By Police

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The children of the last homeschooling family in Sweden soon may be dragged by police to a government-run school.

Marita and Tomas Sandberg apparently are the last couple homeschooling their kids in Sweden, where such education is banned. They’ve already been fined thousands of dollars.

“The national authorities are pressuring the municipality to consider even stronger options to get the children to school,” Jonas Himmelstrand, the president of the national Swedish homeschool association, said in an interview with the Home School Legal Defense Association. “The municipality has mentioned the use of force, including sending the police to pick up the children and take them to school, as a possibility.

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“It is not clear whether Swedish law would allow for this possibility, but the threat is a stark reminder of the hostility that the Swedish government has towards anyone who would dare homeschool,” he added.

It is likely that every other homeschool family has left the Scandinavian nation of 9.8 million people, Himmelstrand added.

Himmelstrand and his family – who homeschool – are living in exile in Finland’s Aland Islands.

Homeschooling was legal in Sweden until 2010. Since then, most Swedish homeschooling families have fled.

Mike Donnelly, director of global outreach for HSLDA, said Sweden’s actions would violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which “makes it crystal clear … that parents have the prior right to choose the kind of education their children will receive.” Sweden is a party to the treaty.

“This latest threat to freedom has reminded me that Sweden, a country often touted as a model social democracy, is turning into a dystopia for anyone who does not conform to rigid patterns of accepted behavior,” he wrote. “… Early childhood education [in Sweden] is mandatory, and government-funded day care starts for children as early as age 1. It is the rare exception for a mother to stay home with her young children after the age of 2, and there is tremendous social pressure for women to re-enter the workforce as soon as possible after giving birth.”

HSDLA is collecting money to help the Sandbergs.

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He Was Fired Because He Was Homeschooled

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He Was Fired Because He Was HomeschooledAn Alabama man lost his job simply because he was homeschooled.

“Homeschool diplomas are not recognized as legitimate or accredited in the state of Alabama,” and homeschool students “must receive a GED to have a true graduation,” a statement from the unidentified employer obtained by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA) read.

The company fired the man, referred to as just “Jacob,” after a third-party background check revealed he was homeschooled.

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The employer stated that the man “must receive a GED to have a true graduation.”

Fortunately, the man got his job back after HSDLA attorney Dan Beasley contacted the company and told them they had violated Section 16-11.4 of the Code of Alabama, which bans discrimination against homeschooled people and says homeschooling is a legitimate form of education.

“I wanted to send you a message and say thank you for all of your help,” the man’s mother told the HSDLA. “Jacob got a call asking him to come back to his job . . . This is a blessing, and we owe it all to your professionalism and persistence. Thank you again.”

Said HSLDA, “While this story has a happy ending, there are still many homeschool graduates in Alabama and across the country who are being discriminated against. For example, a statute mandating that candidates for jobs as peace officers hold diplomas from accredited or approved high schools means homeschool graduates who wish to serve as peace officers in Alabama must take the GED.”

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5 Things to do After Homeschool Graduation

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By Alyssa Liljequist

At times, it seemed like it would never end. Week after week, month after month, grade after grade—surely my home education would last forever, I thought.
As a child, I wanted to finish my schoolwork as quickly as possible so that I could play. As a teen in homeschool high school, I had writing and filmmaking projects for which I needed to make time. I dreamed of the freedom I’d have one day.

Suddenly, it stopped. There was no more required schooling. I had finished. Graduated. Arrived. Or had I?

Now I can see that those seemingly endless years of homeschooling were just the beginning. Those years prepared me to enter into adulthood. They gave me a great start to my future. That’s a really good thing, because turning 18 and being faced with decision after decision that would affect the rest of my life was scary. It still is. Sometimes I feel as though I’m drowning under a sea of options. I wonder if you feel that way too.

The first thing to do is to seek God’s will through prayer. Talking with your parents is essential as well. Then, what often helps me is to make lists.
Making lists of the pros and cons related to different choices can bring clarity to a foggy situation. There may be three good choices, one not-so-good choice, and one excellent choice for your particular circumstances.

I’ll be listing five options that a homeschool graduate may pursue; many of them can be combined. It’s up to you to identify the pros and cons.

1. College. This is probably the first one that comes to mind for most families. Should you encourage your children to attend a university? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. If your child’s goal in life is to become a neonatal nurse, college is the obvious choice. If, on the other hand, your child wants to become a writer, college is not necessary but could still be beneficial.

Whether or not to go to college was a decision I really struggled with. Initially, I decided against it due to the time and money that must be invested. However, college opens a lot of doors that I can’t open for myself. For example, most internships are available only to college students. Attending college can give me an opportunity to familiarize myself with expensive equipment that I couldn’t afford to buy, and colleges also happen to hand out that piece of paper that lots of jobs require. While I personally don’t think such emphasis should be placed on having a degree, it’s the reality we live in. In the end, I have chosen to pursue a degree in media production (starting Fall 2013).

Because I desire a very hands-on approach to higher education, online college programs are not a good fit for me. However, if it works for you, online degrees enable you to study from home, save money, and work at your own pace. Make sure you are earning a degree from an accredited college.

2. Employment. This option means that you decide to enter the work force right away. Of course, this can be combined with college. As you all know, trying to get a job in the U.S. right now is not easy. If you don’t have much experience, a specialized skill set, or a degree, job opportunities are even more limited. I suggest calling local businesses, food places, and retail stores to ask if they are currently hiring. Then, begin filling out those applications! It’s easy to become discouraged by multiple rejections. Keep trying. I need to remind myself of this. It’s going to take perseverance to find a full-time job.

3. Self-Employment. This option has become increasingly popular as a result of the lack of “regular” jobs. Having flexible hours, doing something you enjoy, and not living with the fear of being laid off are benefits accompanying this choice. Yet, to run your own business, you must be self-motivated, work even when it’s tedious and not enjoyable, and be responsible for keeping the business afloat. Moreover, the work often never ends, and trying to keep your personal life and work life separate can be a struggle.

I’ve done part-time freelance writing for more than two years now. During that time, my work has been published in a variety of online and print publications. It has been rewarding to use my writing skills in this way, but a regular part-time, minimum-wage job would have earned me a lot more money. Recently, I began working as a technical writer for a local mechanical engineering firm on a when-needed basis. I am paid to provide a service; I am not, for the time being, an employee of the firm.

4. The Military. There are many benefits to joining the military—guaranteed employment is a big one. In return for your service to your country, the government will also help you pay for college. Graduating without college debt is rare these days. Still, I don’t believe people should serve in the military solely for employment and education. You need to be physically, emotionally, and mentally strong, and you should be genuinely patriotic. Enlistment in the military requires a huge commitment, and whether or not to join is a decision that should not be taken lightly.

5. Missionary Service. This is the one option that has nothing to do with making money. In fact, you have to raise money from supporters to be able to cover the costs. That’s why, generally, only those who have a burning passion to personally go and reach the unreached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ serve on the mission field. In addition to a desire to pray and to give, some individuals experience a restless longing from God that says go. You know who you are.

We also need senders. We need people who are making a steady income to provide funds to support missionaries and to feed the hungry.

For those who think missionary service is an easy way out (You mean I don’t have to go to college or get a job at McDonald’s?), true missionary service is anything but easy. It’s tough not knowing if your supporters will keep their financial commitments or not. It’s tough being away from your family and friends for months and years at a time. It’s tough facing culture shock and spiritual warfare.

Even the application process to serve with a missions organization can be time-consuming and involve many steps. While it is hard, don’t let that stop you from following God’s will for your life. It is absolutely worth it. I served with Operation Mobilization (OM) on board the Logos Hope for 7½ weeks. I had never worked so hard physically or been so exhausted in my life! It was a very stretching and wonderful experience.

There they are: five options. Each choice represents multiple variables. What kind of job? What branch of the military? What country? Enjoy the journey of discovering what you desire to pursue.

I’m thankful to live in a country where I am given the chance to choose what I want to do with my life. What will you choose?

Alyssa Liljequist is a 19-year-old homeschool graduate of 2011. She is a freelance writer whose work has been published by various online and print publications. Alyssa is passionate about missions. Her other interests include videomaking and working with kids. Her short story E-Book, Deadly Delirium, can be purchased here or on She blogs at



Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.






The post 5 Things to do After Homeschool Graduation appeared first on Mama Kautz.

Judge Orders Mom To Stop Homeschooling After Smart Girl Falsely Labeled Illiterate

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Judge Orders Mom To Stop Homeschooling After Smart Girl Falsely Labeled Illiterate

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A judge ordered a homeschooler placed in school and even scheduled a trial after an official falsely reported that the girl was illiterate.

To make matters worse, the judge refused to examine the girl’s test scores, which indicated she was reading and writing at the level of her grade, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported. The scores were from an independent agency.

The controversy started when the mom, named Vanessa, moved to a different county in Kentucky and enrolled her daughter in a private school. But she soon realized that homeschooling was a better option, so she pulled the girl, who until that short time had been homeschooled her entire life.

That’s when things went wrong.

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“The private school … contacted the local director of pupil personnel (DPP), who called Vanessa at night and told her that she needed to file her notice of intent [to homeschool] immediately,” HSLDA’s Darren Jones wrote. “But the very next day, the DPP filed charges in court, accusing her of neglecting her daughter’s education. He claimed that the daughter had only attended school 20 days in her entire life and that she could not say or write the alphabet.”

Directors of pupil personnel are employees of the public schools.

The judge ordered Vanessa to enroll her daughter in a school, and he scheduled a trial for six weeks later. HSLDA then hired an independent consultant, who evaluated the girl and found she was working above her capacity. The consultant reported he had “no idea why someone at the school would have said that the girl didn’t know the alphabet. She’s a good reader (with very good phonetic skills).” The consultant even added in an email, “The mom does a great job!”

Once that report was made public, the prosecutor dropped the case and the judge agreed that the mom could go back to homeschooling.

What is your reaction? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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‘Home School Check. Please Give Us A Call’

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‘Home School Check. Please Give Us A Call’

PARIS, Ky. – Homeschooling families in one Kentucky school district were surprised to discover recently that school officials were conducting unannounced visits to homes – and if no one was there, leaving door hangers.

The February visits within the Paris Independent School District apparently violate a state-wide agreement, which is designed to protect a family’s constitutional right to privacy, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association, which reported on the incident.

“I got the impression that district staff could become more difficult if I didn’t cooperate in answering their questions or bring out my child to meet them,” one parent, Jenny Griffith, reported. “I tried to handle the situation as civilly as possible, without adding any threat to them.”

Griffith said the two officials who visited her home said the district has plans to visit every homeschool family three times a year.

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“As part of their plan to help families, the school officials asked about attendance records and curriculum,” HSLDA attorney T.J. Schmidt wrote at the organization’s website. “Before leaving, one official asked Jenny about meeting her child.”

Families who were not at home got a doorhanger, reading, “Home school check. Please give us a call.” It was signed by the principal.

But the visits go against Kentucky state law, Schmidt said.

“Under Kentucky law, a homeschool program operates as a private school,” he wrote. “While private schools are required to keep attendance and scholarship records (i.e. report cards) in the same manner as the local public school, homeschooling parents do not need to open their homes and present these documents simply because a school official comes knocking.”

An agreement was reached more than 20 years ago between the homeschool organizations and the state that “unless school officials receive some report or have some evidence that the parents are not educating their children, no further inquiry should be made,’ Schmidt added.

HSLDA has contacted the school district about the law.

What is your reaction? Do you believe school districts should do “checkups” on homeschoolers? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Mom Arrested, Loses Children Because They’re Homeschooled

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Mom Arrested, Loses Children Because They're Homeschooled

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — A single mother claims she was arrested and lost custody of her children after she opted to homeschool them, even though she turned in the proper paperwork.

The controversy began in December when Kiarre Harris filed paperwork with the Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools, notifying officials that she would be homeschooling. She was concerned her two children – in elementary school – were in a failing system.

“I spoke directly to the homeschool coordinator and she told me from this point on my children were officially un-enrolled from school,” Harris told 7 Eyewitness News in Buffalo.

But a week later, someone from Child Protective Services (CPS) called and asked why her children were not in school.

“I told them that my kids were homeschooled now and that I could furnish the documents if they need to see them,” said Harris, who showed the documents to 7 Eyewitness News. The district stamped the paperwork on Dec. 7, indicating the district had received it.

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She thought everything was OK, but less than a month later, CPS, accompanied by police, showed up at her home.

“They said, ‘It’s too late now to show these papers. The judge has already made the order. We have to take your children.’”

Story continues below video

Harris demanded to see the judge’s order and told CPS officials and police that she would not allow them to take her children. She was then arrested for obstructing justice. The court summons was for child neglect.

She hasn’t seen her children in three weeks, the TV station reported.

Buffalo Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. called her arrest “utterly unacceptable.”

“Someone, somewhere messed up, and that someone needs to face the music,” he said at the council meeting Tuesday. “… Did anyone from the school reach out to the mother? We don’t know. It’s very important for us to look at the details and get all of the details.”

Franklin Redd, a representative of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said none of it “should have happened.” DPCC is the independent parent organization for Buffalo Public Schools.

“Someone along the way, anywhere in the process after Dec. 7, should have simply said, ‘Wait a minute, CPS should not be in here,’ the principal should have been circled back to and (told) these students were unenrolled,” Redd told the TV station.

What is your reaction? Do you believe the district dropped the ball? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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A Caseworker For Every Single Homeschool Family?

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A Caseworker For Every Single Homeschool Family?

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa is well-known as being friendly to homeschoolers, but that could change if a bill requiring four government-approved home visits each year becomes law.

The bill by Democratic state Sen. Matt McCoy was introduced in response to the death of 16-year-old Natalie Finn, who died of cardiac arrest in October after starving to death. Her parents were charged in her death and remain in jail.

Neighbors had reported their concerns about the girl to police five months prior to her death. She was not enrolled in school.

McCoy’s bill, S.F. 138, would require the board of directors of each school district to “conduct quarterly home visits to check on the health and safety of children located within the district who are receiving competent private instruction or private instruction.”

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“Home visits shall take place in the child’s residence with the consent of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted,” the bill states.

If parents refuse permission, then the school district can get a court order to enter the home.

Attorney Scott Woodruff of the Home School Legal Defense Association called the bill “a well-intended but misguided response.” Woodruff sent a letter to Iowa state senators urging them to reject the bill and instead to focus on the findings of the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF).

“The report listed numerous risk factors,” Woodruff wrote. “Homeschooling was never listed as a risk factor – or even mentioned.”

The report found that a prior report to social services is the “single strongest predictor of a child’s potential risk for injury death … before age 5.”

The problem, Woodruff asserted, is that local officials did not notice “the numerous abuse-neglect reports related to Natalie’s family.”

“Senator McCoy’s bill completely misses the risk factors identified in the CECANF report and instead focuses on an issue – homeschooling – that does not warrant even one mention in the report,” Woodruff wrote.

What do you think? Should homeschoolers be subject to government visits? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Court Applauds Homeschool Mom, But OKs Criminal Charges Anyway

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Court Applauds Homeschool Mom, But OKs Criminal Charges Anyway

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CLEVELAND — A legal group representing a homeschool mom is filing an appeal after an Ohio magistrate and then a judge convicted her of a misdemeanor after she failed to file the proper paperwork.

“Can a mother whose son is not missing any school, learning eagerly, and even excelling academically still be considered criminally reckless when it comes to his education?” attorney Jim Mason of the Home School Legal Defense Association wrote at the HSLDA website.

The magistrate praised homeschool mom Valerie Bradley for “being so successful with the education aspect” of her homeschool program but then sentenced her to 180 days in jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A common pleas judge changed the charge to failing to send her son to school and removed the jail sentence, but HSLDA said all charges should be dropped.

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As Off the Grid News reported in October, the controversy began shortly after Bradley and her husband, David, started homeschooling their son in January 2015.

“That summer the Bradleys received a form letter from school officials requesting that by August 1 they file a notice of intent for the coming year, as well as a student end-of-year assessment,” Mason wrote. “A short time later, Mrs. Bradley spoke with a school employee who told her, correctly, that there is no deadline for the student assessment.”

By late October, the Bradleys had filed their notice of intent, which the school system deemed too late.

“It was then that the state filed a criminal complaint against Mrs. Bradley, alleging that the delay in filing her homeschool paperwork had contributed to the delinquency of her child,” Mason wrote. “

But Valerie Bradley had been teaching her son the entire time and noted in court he was “doing better than when he was in public school.” In fact, on his end-of-year assessment, he scored in the 97th percentile.

HSDLA is appealing the judge’s ruling in an attempt to get the conviction overturned.

“In our brief, HSLDA is asking for the chance to demonstrate how state officials bungled Mrs. Bradley’s case in three fundamental areas: homeschool law, the procedure for dealing with truancy, and the determination of when a parent is reckless,” Mason wrote.

The Aug. 1 deadline is not in state law and is completely arbitrary, HSLDA says.

Further, Mason asserted, she was not acting recklessly, which is legally defined as acting “with indifference toward a known and obvious risk” to a child.

“Mrs. Bradley acted precisely as the legislature intended parents should act when questioned about truancy: promptly and decisively. That should have been the end of the matter,” Mason wrote.

Which side do you think was right? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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CPS Seized Her Kids. She Got Them Back – And $700,000, Too

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CPS Seized Her Kids. She Got Them Back – And $700,000, Too

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Officials in Riverside County, Calif., have agreed to pay a family $700,000 as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed after Child Protective Services (CPS) seized a seven-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.

“CPS just took my children,” Vanessa Wilson told Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA) attorneys back in April 2013 after CPS investigator Francisca Russo alleged that the mom was not properly tending to the diabetes needs of her four-year-old daughter.

CPS, with the backing of police, seized both kids.

The son was in state custody for 29 days, the daughter for 50 days.

The controversy began after Wilson took her daughter to the hospital when she experienced flu-like symptoms and lethargy. It was at the hospital that doctors told her that her daughter was diabetic. The daughter was discharged five days later in the care of the mom.

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Wilson followed the treatment plan for her daughter, but three months later a case worker showed up at her door, accompanied by other CPS workers and a police officer. The case worker asked Wilson to administer a blood glucose meter test to the daughter, which the mom did. The reading of 261 was “within the acceptable blood glucose range” that the doctor had given Wilson, according to the lawsuit. And it was “significantly less” than the reading of 435 when the daughter was first administered to the hospital. But that didn’t matter to Russo.

“On her own authority, without asking a doctor about the readings and without seeking a court order, [Russo] took the girl into custody,” HSLDA said in a news release. “After learning that Vanessa homeschooled her seven-year-old son, Ms. Russo asked him a few math questions, asked him to recite the ABC’s, and to read from a book—all while the deputy would not let his visibly distraught mom come to him.

Other doctors, including the girl’s own physician, said her condition was fine.

“Russo made these determinations without any appropriate medical training, degree, or license,” the complaint stated. “… Russo made these determinations without consulting Daughter’s pediatrician, Dr. Swanston, or any other medical professional who possessed appropriate medical training, degree, or license to opine as to the normal blood sugar range of a four-year-old child with new-onset type 1 juvenile diabetes.”

The kids were returned after HSLDA uncovered evidence that CPS had hidden evidence from the courts and them. That evidence convinced a prosecutor to drop the legal case against Wilson.

HSLDA then filed a lawsuit, which included a video deposition of Russo.

“There was simply no better way to reproduce or accurately represent the investigator’s facial expressions, body language, or pregnant pauses,” HSLDA reported in a news release. “Watching her squirm while she tried to explain that a pediatric endocrinologist with 30 years’ experience was wrong—and that she was right—was considerably more effective than reading a transcript.”

Riverside County initially offered only $10,000, but during mediation – and after the video deposition was seen by everyone – agreed to a $700,000 settlement.

“Each of the children have an investment of $100,000 that they can start drawing on when they turn 18,” according to HSLDA. “Vanessa invested part of her money in a new traveling home so that she and the kids can cross the country visiting friends and family; learning while on an unforgettable adventure. Money can’t bring back the lost 50 days, or cure the trauma that all three are still dealing with from the unjustified seizure and separation. But Vanessa is doing her best.”

HSLDA said it acknowledges that CPS investigators “have an important and difficult job” – but asserts they must be held accountable.

“There are rules they have to follow for the safety and protection of those they investigate,” HSLDA said in its release. “And sadly, the CPS system is so wrapped in confidentiality that abuses by officials rarely come to light—except in civil-rights lawsuits like this one.”

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CPS Investigates Homeschool Family’s ‘Messy’ House, Threatens Legal Action

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CPS Investigates Homeschool Family’s ‘Messy’ House, Threatens Legal Action

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A homeschool family was almost forced to send their special-needs daughter to public school because someone thought their house was messy.

An anonymous tipster told Montana’s Child & Family Services that the family’s home was messy, leading to a visit from a case worker who found that the house actually was clean, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported.

But even though there wasn’t a mess, the family’s troubles were far from over.

The case worker came back a week later and began asking questions about the parents’ 9-year-old daughter.

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“The family was aware of their daughter’s unique challenges,” HSLDA reported. “They had already had her evaluated by a private psychologist, who determined that her needs were being met in her current home environment, and they were working closely with an ophthalmologist to care for her vision.”

A month later, the case worker returned and asked the girl to read, which she did. The case worker then decided that she should be tested in a public school – and he threatened legal action if the family did not go along.

The state only backed off after HSDLA attorney Dan Beasley wrote to the specialist about what is required under Montana law.

“[Beasley[ explained that the family was in compliance with Montana law and that they were under no legal obligation to access services through the public school,” HSLDA reported. “The specialist quickly responded with an email clarifying that he was not trying to force services on the family, but he wanted to make sure they were aware of the free services available through the school district. He also had some questions about the legal requirements for homeschooling.”

Beasley then replied back to the case worker, and the family has not heard from the case worker since.

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Homeschool Families Targeted In District’s ‘Operation Round Up’

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Homeschool Families Targeted in 'Operation Round Up'

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A public school official in Florida has urged citizens to fight truancy by reporting any children they suspect might not be in school or being educated — including homeschool families.

It is all part of an “anti-truancy” initiative called Operation Round Up, in which residents of Jackson County, Florida, are urged to be on the lookout for children not in school and to report them to school officials or to police.

A truancy report can lead to a home check by sheriff’s deputies or police and possibly the arrest of the parents, TV station WJHG reported.

The policy of the Jackson County School District is to send law enforcement to the homes of suspected truants.

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“Sometimes if these citizens don’t call me, I have no way of knowing,” Shirl Williams, director of student services for the school system, told the TV station. “So if it’s a nosy neighbor, be a nosy neighbor. Just call me and let me check out the situation.”

Williams acknowledged that homeschool children can be mistaken for truants but urged citizens to report them so school authorities can investigate.

“Sometimes the community will see them around town and they think, ‘Hey, they’re not being educated.’ Sometimes the community is right,” Williams said.

Home School Legal Defense Association attorney TJ Schmidt wrote Williams and the Jackson County superintendent, saying that while truancy is a problem, homeschoolers should not be targeted.

“Your statements suggest that everyone should report children they think aren’t being educated,” the letter read. “In our opinion, this is a threatening practice, and will instill a spirit of suspicion and hostility against homeschoolers in the community.”

Schmidt wrote to Williams after a parent saw her on TV and complained to HSDLA.

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Homeschooling Mother Convicted, Sentenced to 180 Days in Jail for Late Paperwork!

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A family in Ohio is embroiled in a court battle after a mother who decided to homeschool her child was sentenced to 180 days in jail for not filing the proper paperwork. […]

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Homeschool Mom Sentenced To 6 Months In Jail For Minor Paperwork Mistake

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Homeschool Mom Sentenced To 6 Months In Jail For Minor Paperwork Mistake

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — An unidentified homeschool mother in Ohio faced up to 180 days in jail for not filing paperwork on time – even though she taught her child the entire time.

The mother’s problems began when she withdrew her child from public school in January 2015, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported. The child thrived in the new environment, leading the mom to want to continue the homeschool path.

In May 2015, the school district sent the mom a letter notifying her about the upcoming annual notification process for the next school year – a process she knew little about. She phoned the school and was told she needed “to file a notice and an end-of-year assessment” but was told “there’s no deadline,” said HSLDA, which is representing the mom. She even was told by the school that many homeschoolers teach their children year-round – something that she decided to try that summer.

In September 2015 the mom was preparing to send in her paperwork when she got a notice telling her it actually was due on August 1, even though she had been told there was no deadline. Her child had been marked absent from school for six weeks. She hastily sent in the paperwork and the school district OK’d it, but the story turned into a nightmare when she received a summons to criminal court for charges of “contributing to the delinquency” of a minor. It mattered little that her child had scored in the 97th percentile on a standardized evaluation test.

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“At the trial, the mother testified extensively about her decision to homeschool, her conversation with school officials, her son’s summer-school program, and his stellar assessment results,” HSLDA wrote.

The magistrate, though, sentenced her to 180 days (six months) in jail, which was suspended if she and her child attended truancy classes (which they did).

That sentence had to be approved by a court of common pleas judge, who overturned the magistrate’s decision but convicted her of “failure to send a child to school” – a misdemeanor.

HSLDA said it will appeal.

“While we are relieved that the judge revoked the magistrate’s ‘contributing’ conviction along with its draconian sentence of jail time, we are disappointed that the judge instituted any conviction at all,” HSLDA wrote. “We are preparing an appeal to overturn this new conviction on grounds that were raised before the magistrate and the court of common pleas, both of which ignored our arguments. The state’s evidence fell far short of the standard required for a criminal conviction, and we will make sure the court of appeals receives that message loud and clear.”

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Superintendent Warns Homeschoolers: ‘I Will … Question Parents As I See Fit’

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Superintendent Warns Homeschoolers: ‘I Will … Question Parents As I See Fit’

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NEWARK, Ohio — A superintendent of schools was willing to bend state law in order to gather information about a homeschool family, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA) is alleging.

David Hile, the superintendent for the Licking Valley Local School District in Ohio, asked to see the detailed (subset) test results for an unidentified homeschool student in Newark, Ohio, who had scored well above the minimum requirement.

That is more information than is required by Ohio state law, HSDLA attorney Michael P. Donnelly pointed out in an email to Hale.

The student scored in the 30th percentile of a standardized test, and the state minimum is the 25th percentile. Hile, though, thought the student’s score was too low.

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Ohio law states: “Any child that has a composite score at or above the twenty-fifth percentile shall be deemed to be performing at a level of reasonable proficiency.”

“That information is all that is required by law,” Donnelly wrote.

Hile agreed to back off this time, although he made no promises about the future.

“It is my responsibility under the law,” Hile insisted in a letter to Donnelly, “… to ensure that children in my district are receiving an adequate education [and] I take that responsibility very seriously, whether those children are in our schools or homeschooled. I will continue to question parents as I see fit.”

Donnelly said Hile’s response means homeschoolers must remain vigilant.

“Hile’s response was an over-the-top and overbearing reaction to a simple point of clarification,” Donnelly said. “His attitude reflects an arrogance that implies homeschoolers are not up to the task of educating their children. The facts show that the reverse is true, and I will happily defend our members when they encounter problems with similar public school officials.”

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Superintendent Orders HOMESCHOOL Child Back To 1st Grade

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Superintendent Orders HOMESCHOOL Child Back To 1st Grade

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PHILADELPHIA – Homeschoolers are given quite a bit of freedom in many states, but one family was recently shocked when the local superintendent ordered their young child to repeat a grade.

The unnamed family, which lives in Pennsylvania, had filed the required paperwork notifying the superintendent that they would be homeschooling their 8-year-old son, who was ready to enter third grade, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

But officials with the school system refused to give them an approval letter and ordered that the child go back to first grade unless the family could “document evidence of readiness for 3rd grade in the form of work samples or progress reports, the HSLDA said on its blog.

The superintendent’s office was not following the law.

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“Pennsylvania law charges parents—not public schools—with picking the most appropriate grade level for each child,” HSLDA said. “Even though Pennsylvania’s homeschool law is among the most restrictive in the nation, it still protects the unique flexibility homeschooling offers.”

Thankfully, the superintendent’s office backed down when the law was explained.

“The director was quick to acknowledge that homeschool families should not be held to the same rigid requirements established for public school students,” HSLDA reported. “… Every child is different and has a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Just ask a group of kids, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and listen to the varied responses. Dads and moms know their children better than anyone else. Homeschooling equips parents to customize an education plan that meets each child’s needs and goals.

“Homeschooling empowers parents to encourage their children to pursue their dreams and shine in their favorite subjects while taking the time necessary to become proficient in all areas.”

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8 Ways To Homeschool AND Homestead Without Going Absolutely Bonkers

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8 Ways To Homeschool AND Homestead Without Going Absolutely Bonkers

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If you live in a homestead and try to homeschool your kids, then doing so may be one of the most challenging tasks you have to face every day.

On top of gardening, food preservation, animal care, mucking, cooking meals, child care AND a dozen more chores in the home and farm, homeschooling is an added responsibility that doesn’t always fit neatly in your day-to-day schedule.

Depending on the number and ages of your children, homeschooling can be either a complex or tedious job that places constant demands on you – mentally, emotionally and time-wise.  Whether you use structured curricula or opt for more flexible, non-traditional teaching methods, and whether you do it alone or with others’ help, it’s still a ball to include in the juggling act you already do every day, keeping a family and a homestead together.

And, whether you’ve just begun with a single preschool child, or you are a seasoned veteran who’s homeschooled three or four middle and high schoolers, you know how things can go crazy both in the home and in the farm without warning. A nanny goat gives birth to a kid who gets goat chill, needing emergency care; a fence gets broken and needs repair before nightfall; baskets of fresh produce sit in your kitchen, awaiting canning; one of the children gets a fever.

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Life on the farm is a far cry from the routine of an office job. At times, in fact, it can be downright dirty and unpredictable. How on earth can you provide a semblance of order, regularity and sanity in the midst of chaos and complexity?

8 Ways To Homeschool AND Homestead Without Going Absolutely Bonkers

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Here are a few tips that can help you manage the homesteading-homeschooling lifestyle without practically losing your mind.

1. Follow your own time. Choose a time of day that works for you and your household. If you prefer finishing the morning chores first – watering the garden, taking animals out to pasture, baling hay — do so, while the weather is mild. Then get indoors when the sun is too hot so you can settle down and shift to your role as teacher. That goes for months and seasons as well. There are those who choose to follow an agrarian calendar, since the autumn months are spent harvesting and canning. Others spread the school load throughout the year, stopping to enjoy one- to two-week breaks on different months only as needed.

2. Integrate homesteading into homeschooling. If you desire and foresee your children pursuing the same lifestyle as you and your spouse’s, begin training them in the farming way of life as soon as they’re ready. Children as young as five or six can already be taught simple skills like watering plants, weeding, feeding chickens, harvesting eggs.

Whenever any of our goat dams give birth, I immediately stop class; rather, I transfer the class into the barn for an on-the-spot training in animal husbandry. My 11-year-old daughter started serving as “birthing assistant” when she was eight. Holding a tray in her hands containing gloves, scissors, iodine, cotton balls and towels, she’s assisted my husband many times in the birthing process and already knows what to do. In a few years she can probably birth a kid on her own.

Remember that homesteading is a lot of science education in itself. Seed-starting is botany. Composting is soil science. Animal processing teaches anatomy. Fermenting kombucha is chemistry. Where else can you find a diversity of real-life, real-time lessons on the spot and on a continuing basis?

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3. Provide the basics, then take it from there. In terms of courses, provide the “3 Rs” — reading, `riting, `rithmetic — then see where your child’s skills and interests take him. After setting a rudimentary course, add and tweak as you go. As years progress and he matures, decide which path he (and the Lord) wants for him and choose which subjects to give priority to. Will it be the sciences? Math? Language? The arts? How about non-traditional lessons that complement an off-grid lifestyle: Beekeeping? Carpentry? Aquaponics? How to harness renewable energy?

8 Ways To Homeschool AND Homestead Without Going Absolutely Bonkers

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4. Include lots of fun stuff. Take the class outdoors. Camping, hunting, bouldering, building a fort, making a small waterwheel, designing a hover craft, the list goes on. For every age and stage in a child’s life there’s a hundred things to learn and discover that can’t be taught in the classroom, and aren’t dependent on the grid. On days that are way too busy or when emergencies arise and you can’t follow the day’s assignments, keep books, analytical board games, puzzles and Sudoku on hand to keep a child mentally busy for several hours. Meanwhile…

5. Don’t forget the “university” of the Internet. There are countless sites online that teach lessons, academic or not, for free. Our children have acquired dozens of skills from YouTube — from piano to sewing to bushcraft to baking.

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6. Take periodic breaks. A weary, burned-out, unhappy parent-teacher makes for an unhappy home, homestead and schoolroom. Try to enlist the help of a husband, grandparent, friend or sitter (if your children are young) so you can go to town and take a breather. If you can’t leave your kids, bring them with you and go on a bi-monthly or quarterly field trip where they can learn without your direct supervision. A trip to the museum, zoo, the ballet, a permaculture farm. Even just a half-day visit to the library every couple of weeks can take some load off your back.

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7. Realize you can’t do everything. Homeschooling takes a whole lot of patience, commitment, sacrifice AND the humble admission that you won’t be able to do it all, all of the time. Find a homeschool co-op. Start one if you can’t find any. Look for other homeschooling families in your neighborhood, church or county. Even just joining an online forum can provide the encouragement you need when you’re in distress, overwhelmed and ready to give up.

8. Ultimately, major on the majors. What skills, habits and values do you really want to develop in your children? For my husband and me, it’s their love for reading. Writing. Research. Critical thinking. Finding alternatives. Innovation.

What work ethic would you want them to have? Are diligence, self-motivation and perseverance encouraged? Over the months and years, as you see your student improve in these traits, give him – and yourself — a pat on the back. You’ve both done a great job! These are attributes not usually applauded or emphasized in traditional schools, where rote learning is the norm and the highest praises are reserved primarily for getting good grades.

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Here Comes Random Audits For Homeschoolers

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Here Comes Random Audits For Homeschoolers

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A school district in one US state is preparing to conduct random audits of homeschool families in what one nationwide homeschool organization says is an unconstitutional move.

The audits by the Clinton County (Kentucky) school district will examine both academic and attendance records of homeschool families.

“As the number of homeschooled children in our county continues to increase, so does the need for the (school) district to ensure that all children in our county are getting a rigorous and effective education,” Julie York, the director of pupil personnel for the school district, was quoted as saying in the Clinton County News.

While families have “a Constitutional right” to homeschool, York said, “it is still the school district’s responsibility to make sure the student is educated.”

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The school board, in fact, has requested that York and the district conduct random audits. Each family will receive a letter.

“During the summer, Clinton County home schools will be audited to ensure that all children in Clinton County have access to the best education possible,” a verification letter obtained by the News states.

The Home School Legal Defense Association said it opposes “any such audits as unconstitutional.”

“We are also troubled by what appears to be the underlying motivation for this proposed meddling by school officials: money,” HSLA said.

Clinton County schools are losing around $300,000 a year in funding from the state due to the homeschool students not being in public school, district Finance Director Mike Reeves told the board. HSLDA said that figure is likely closer to $435,000.

“It is obvious that Clinton County sees the increase of homeschoolers as taking money away from the district, and this is likely a significant reason in officials’ desire to increase scrutiny of homeschool families,” HSLDA said.

Around 85 children are homeschooled in Clinton County, and the number is increasing.

HSLDA attorney TJ Schmidt sent a letter to York, arguing that under state law “school officials cannot simply show up at a homeschool family’s home and demand records as they might of a more traditional private school.”

“No records should be demanded unless the school district has evidence that parents are not educating their children,” HSLDA said in a news release.

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Survival Saturday: Should You Really Be Worried About Zika?

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This week’s Survival Saturday discusses whether the Zika virus is the next terrifying pandemic, the national war on homeschooling families, some throwback government propaganda, and the tragic repercussions of a … Read the rest

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Jailed For Homeschooling, Right Here In America

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Jailed For Homeschooling, Right Here In America

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Two separate homeschool families in Ohio face jail time and thousands of dollars in fines for narrowly missing state deadlines of which they were unaware.

The charges are for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” – even though the children were homeschooled and even though school officials later acknowledged that the parents’ program met state requirements.

The school system says the parents did not provide proper notification on time that their children would not be in public school.

Instead of notifying the parents when they were in violation of the law, school officials let the absences for the children pile up for about a month before bringing criminal charges against them, attorney Peter Kamakawiwoole of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) said.

In most cases nationwide, Kamakawiwoole said, “if the family resolves the issue promptly, state officials rarely pursue further action—like criminal prosecution—against the parents.”

“Unless you happen to live in Ohio,” he wrote on the HSLDA website.

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Both families were relatively new to homeschool laws in Ohio, the attorney said.

“One family filed a notice of intent when they began homeschooling last year, but did not know they had to file another notice for this school year,” Kamakawiwoole wrote. “The other family filed their annual notice of intent, but did not submit an educational assessment with their notice because they had not yet completed it, and had been told by their school district that there was no deadline for submitting the assessment.”

School officials should have contacted the families when the absences began piling up but did not, Kamakawiwoole said.

“As soon as both families realized their errors, they took action to comply with their districts’ demands,” he wrote. “After filing the paperwork, both families received a letter from their superintendent verifying that their homeschool program is in compliance with state law for the 2015-2016 school year.”

But then the school district brought criminal charges – charges which carry a maximum penalty of $1,000 in fines and six months in the county jail. Significantly, though, “each day that a child is ‘truant’ can be considered a separate offense,” Kamakawiwoole said.

That means jail time could reach years and fines into the tens of thousands of dollars.

“There is no question that homeschooling families have to meet certain filing requirements in Ohio, and this statute’s primary purpose is to deal with parents who ignore their responsibilities to direct the upbringing and education of their children,” Kamakawiwoole wrote. “But that is not what is happening here. When schools use this statute to prosecute families for what amounts to a simple clerical error, the response is disproportionate and draconian.”

The two families are scheduled to face the charges later this month, and HSDLA is representing them.

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Homeschool Family Sued For Letting Kids Play Outside

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Homeschool Family Sued For Letting Kids Play Outside

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A homeschool family has been sued by neighbors for letting the children play outside, and the mom is speaking out.

Homeschool mom Kelly Counts and her husband are facing a lawsuit over the “loud and obnoxious noise and commotion caused by the children playing” which has “unreasonably interfered with the Wards use and enjoyment of their property” and “harmed the Wards and caused damages to their property rights.”

The suit also states that the Counts violated their neighbors’ property rights because the children are “on the play structure [playhouse] several times each day during weekdays (when most children are in regular schools) and constantly on weekends, weather permitting.”

In other words, the Counts are being sued because their four children are homeschooled.

“It’s unfathomable to me,” Kelly Counts said of the situation in an interview with CBS-DFW. “I can’t imagine the sound of kids playing at any age or stage of my life and thinking that I needed to sue someone over it.”

Lawsuit over Playhouse

The structure is a playhouse that Counts and her husband built on their back porch in Plano, Texas. The noise the children made playing there so upset the neighbors, Irving and Anita Ward, that they complained to a home owners association, called in a city inspector and played explicit gangster rap music at a high volume to drive the kids away.

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Homeschool Family Sued For Letting Kids Play Outside

The Counts’ playhouse.

Counts had to bring the kids inside, and the family called a police officer because of the explicit lyrics in the rap songs. The Counts also tweaked the playhouse to meet city code – for example, removing the playhouse porch roof. But the city issued a variance allowing the Counts to keep the playhouse, and so the Wards sued.

“The Wards have never once asked me to tone down the noise of the kids playing,” Counts said.

The Wards aren’t talking

“I have nothing to say,” Irving Ward told CBS-DFW. “I have to call my attorney.”

Case Could Threaten Homeschoolers’ Rights

The civil case, Ward v. Counts, could threaten homeschoolers’ rights and the rights of all parents, wrote Rebeca Frech of the Patheos blog Catholic channel.

“If the Wards prevail, will the courts have handed those who are against home-based education an effective new way to attack our families and our way of life?” French wrote. “What will become of homeschooling families if the court agrees to this? Will it mean the death of recess and play time for homeschooled children and those who are too young to attend a traditional school?”

It looks as if social workers and school officials are not the only legal threat to homeschoolers’ rights. Some neighbors and their attorneys are now a threat.

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‘I’m Here to Investigate Unsocialized Homeschoolers’

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'I’m Here to Investigate Unsocialized Homeschoolers'

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Simply homeschooling or having a large number of children can now apparently get a family investigated by a social worker in some states. In fact, one homeschool mom says that a social worker visited her home because her children allegedly were “unsocialized.”

The unidentified mom, called “Amy,” gave the account to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

“When the social worker stopped by this afternoon I asked her what the accusations are, and she said: ‘Well, it looks like we’ve got a report here of unsocialized homeschoolers,’” the woman told Mike Donnelly, an HSLDA staff attorney.

Donnelly was so astounded by the allegations that he asked Amy to clarify the remark. He even asked, “Did you say she is investigating ‘unsocialized homeschoolers?’”

“Yes, sir,” Amy replied.

“Unsocialized” apparently means that someone thinks the kids are not spending enough time with other children or in the community.

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“Here we are in 2016,” Donnelly wrote on the HSLDA blog, “with over two million homeschoolers in the United States, and social services agencies are still investigating homeschooling families for concerns about ‘socialization’! But this isn’t the first call we’ve received about this, and I doubt it will be the last.”

Donnelly told Amy that lack of socialization is not considered neglect or abuse under state laws. He suggested that she ask the social worker to reveal everything she was investigating. Social workers sometimes fail to do that “even though federal law and most state law requires them to do so at their first contact,” Donnelly wrote.

“She said that in addition to the unsocialized homeschoolers, the allegations included that our back yard was a mess, and that there was no way there could be enough beds in our house for our 10 children,” Amy told Donnelly after she had contact again with the social worker.

Amy told Donnelly that she thinks a neighbor – one she was not getting along with — called the social worker on her family. Complaints to social workers are anonymous.

Thankfully, the incident ended amicably, with the social worker, after a follow-up visit, telling Amy she had a nice-looking family and that she was closing the case.

The incident, Donnelly said, is a reminder that families – especially homeschoolers — should understand the law before a social worker visits.

“It is striking how many people are not aware of their rights,” Donnelly wrote. “And sadly, too few social workers or government officials actively seek to protect the rights of citizens they are investigating.”

HSLDA is a nonprofit advocacy organization that defends the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

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This New Bill Would Require Background Checks On All Parents

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This New Bill Would Require Background Checks On All Parents

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All parents of children in public and private schools would have to undergo social services background checks when enrolling their kids in school in Ohio under a new proposed state law.

The bill by State Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Youngstown) specifically exempts most homeschoolers, although it doesn’t exempt homeschool families who form what is called a non-chartered, non-tax-supported school.

The bill also would require school officials to inform Child Protective Services (CPS) if a parent who was under investigation enrolled a child in school. CPS would be required to continue the investigation or open a new one.

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has spoken out against the bill, saying that while it opposes child abuse, this bill is not the solution.

HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly is concerned that the law would open up sensitive state databases to school officials.

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“Instead of opening up access to sensitive databases and mandating background checks on millions of Ohio families, HSLDA believes that CPS improvements should focus on better training, requiring that current policies be followed,” the organization said in a press release. “This will allow social workers to focus on serious cases instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach that mandates an overly intrusive and broad investigation for non-serious allegations.”

This is the second time that Cafaro has written a piece of legislation that has attracted the HSDLA’s opposition. In December 2013, Cafaro introduced Senate Bill 248, which would have required background checks for all homeschoolers. It never became law.

The current proposal, like Senate Bill 248, was prompted by the tragic death of 14-year-old Teddy Foltz-Tedesco, who was badly abused by his mother and her boyfriend. Foltz-Tedesco had been withdrawn from public school sometime before his death.

“Senator Cafaro’s bill would not prevent another tragedy like the death of Teddy Foltz,” HSLDA said. “Teddy was kept from school, and it has never been proven that his mother ever said she was homeschooling. Local child protection authorities were aware that Teddy was being abused and failed to intervene.”

HSLDA, a press release said, condemns child abuse and affirms the “role of authorities in detecting and preventing abuse.”

“When too few social workers are chasing too many allegations, many of them anonymous and trivial, it reduces the ability of the system to prevent tragedies,” it said. “HSLDA encourages Senator Cafaro to invest time and energy in solutions more likely to prevent situations like the Teddy Foltz case, rather than the proposed approach of investigating every family that enrolls in a public or private school in Ohio.”

Cafaro’s proposal is only the latest effort to strengthen the relationship between CPS and schools. In Erie County, New York, CPS workers are now stationed at public schools to monitor children, Off The Grid News reported in October.

What do you think of the proposed bill? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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This Is How the Government Will Put an End to Homeschooling

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homeschoolTruth be told, fear is probably the most powerful emotion we have, and has been exploited countless times in history to hamstring the rights of the people. From the War on Drugs to the War on Terror and everything in between, every movement that tries to take away any given right, is driven by fear.

Which brings me to the next ideological tug of war that is sure to be fought in the years ahead. For now, homeschooling isn’t really a hot topic in America, in part because only a small percentage of parents teach their own kids. But make no mistake, no right is safe in our society today, and it won’t be long before the media and the government decide to set their sights on families that want to teach their own children (especially considering the fact that it is a rapidly growing movement). If you don’t believe me, take a look at this AP article that was published last week. This is the rhetoric you can expect to hear from the nanny state and its minions in the years ahead.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Detroit brother and sister vanished more than two years before they were found dead in a freezer in their home, and an 11-year-old Florida girl disappeared more than a year before she, too, turned up in a family freezer. And a 7-year-old Kansas boy hadn’t been seen for more than a month before authorities found the gruesome remains of a child in a pigsty inside his family’s barn.

All of them were home-schooled, but despite their disappearances going unnoticed for so long, opposition from the government-wary home-schooling community means it’s unlikely these states will start keeping closer tabs on home-schooled children.

“It’s largely a conservative thing, but even progressive home-schoolers tend to resist oversight,” said Rachel Coleman, co-founder of the nonprofit Coalition for Responsible Home Education. “Part of it is because there is an assumption that parents always know what’s best for their children.”

Yes. I suppose parents only think they know what’s best for their children. The state knows better right? Obviously there are crappy parents out there, but does that give the government the right to regulate everybody for the mistakes and malice of the few? In any case, can we even trust to state to attend to the individual needs of our children? If our public school system is any indication, then no they cannot. They treat education like an assembly line, where otherwise gifted kids often fail to succeed. The article goes on to say:

Such cases are horrific but they don’t typically lead to new restrictions on home-schooling, which many parents see as their deeply personal right, said Rob Kunzman, director of the International Center for Home Education Research at Indiana University.

How dare they guard their parental rights? How could they refuse to give up their natural rights when a few lunatics kill their own children?

For home-schoolers, the emotionally charged argument against additional oversight is that parents, not the government, know what’s best for their children.

“As many as two-thirds are home-schooling in part for religious reasons,” Coleman said. “Part of that for conservative Christians is that God has given that child to the parents, not the state. The state doesn’t own my child, God has entrusted my child to me.”

The horror! Some parents don’t want their kids to be indoctrinated by state sponsored schools.

Finally, the article goes for the jugular by trying to push the reader’s fear button. A study conducted by pediatricians with a ridiculous small sample size of 28 abused children, found that about half of them were homeschooled.

“For over half, few individuals outside the abuser(s) knew of the child’s existence,” researchers wrote. “This social isolation typically involved preventing the child from attending school or daycare.”

Knox said she would like to see uniform home-schooling laws across the country that at least keep tabs on children with open or previous Child Protective Services cases who are removed from school to be home-schooled.

For the 47 percent of children in her study who were removed from their schools to be home-schooled, it “appears to have been designed to further isolate the child and typically occurred after closure of a previously opened CPS case,” the researchers wrote.

That’s not a bad idea. Just check up on families that have a history with CPS. The only problem is that as time goes on, our society is defining child abuse in increasingly broad terms. Now you can expect to have your kids snatched by the state for playing outside alone, living off the grid, or if parents merely question the advice of a doctor. You don’t have to be a bad parent to have your kids taken away.

And considering how the state runs our public schools, somehow I doubt they should be able to determine if our children are safe at home. Many of our schools have become extremely dangerous places over the years, and as a result, are being turned into kid prisons, with no shortage of security cameras, locked gates, metal detectors, and armed guards. If that’s their model of a safe learning environment, then their agents shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near your children.

And in any case, when has our government ever applied minimal regulations, that weren’t reinforced by draconian measures later on? They never stop once they get their foot in the door with a few simple laws. They’re always trying a cook up new regulations, until they have complete control over any given part of our lives. It never ends.

And that’s where fear comes in. You can see the nanny state stratagem on full display in this article. It all boils down to fear. Fear that our fellow citizens can’t take care of their children, and fear that we can’t take care of our own. That kind of fear always ends in more and more control. What will start with a few reasonable laws, will end in total control.

Every instance of a parent abusing a child will paraded in front of our eyes by the media, and the millions of parents who do a good job will be ignored. They will paint a picture that suggests homeschooling is inherently unsafe and irresponsible. And every homeschool horror story you hear about, like the ones in this article, will be used as an excuse to pass new laws. They’ll do it over and over again until homeschooling is regulated out of existence, and no alternative to our increasingly dumbed-down public schools will be available.

Don’t fall for it. The next time an authoritative figure suggests making something safer, ask yourself, is it really about safety? Or is just about having more control over society?

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

No Constitutional Right To Homeschool, Supreme Court Justice Says

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No Constitutional Right To Homeschool, Supreme Court Justice Says

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Parents do not have a right to homeschool under the US Constitution, says Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia also believes there is no right to school choice within the Constitution.

The conservative justice often is a favorite among those on the right and even among those within the homeschool community, but on these two issues, he strongly differs.

“The notion that everything you care a lot about has to be in the Constitution is a very dangerous notion,” Scalia said during an appearance at Georgetown University. “Because it begins with stuff we all agree upon, ‘Oh, sure, we ought to be able to educate our children the way we want.’ That was one of the early substantive due process [cases] — don’t get me going on substantive due process.”

Parental choice in education is among the important rights not guaranteed in the Constitution, Scalia told the law students at Georgetown University in mid-November, Education Week reported.

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The Constitution is “not a perfect Constitution,” and many “important rights are not contained there,” he said. For example, “my right to raise my children the way I want. To teach them what I want them taught, not what Big Brother says. That is not there.”

Educational choice is “simply not in the Constitution” and “I will not enforce it from the bench,” he said.

The Supreme Court did uphold parental choice in two cases in the 1920s with which Scalia seems to disagree. In a case called Pierce vs. Society of Sisters in 1925, it struck down an Oregon law that mandated public school attendance. In another case called Meyer v. Nebraska in 1923, it overturned a state law banning the teaching of foreign languages to children.

No Constitutional Right To Homeschool, Supreme Court Justice Says

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“Justice Scalia’s comments show that homeschoolers—and every single family—cannot fear attacks on parental rights solely from the left, but also from the right,” William A. Estrada, the director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) wrote on the organization’s website.

Estrada noted that Scalia, who is regarded as a conservative, has been asserting this position for years. Scalia made his position clear in a 2000 case called Troxel v. Granville.

“Our U.S. Constitution was drafted by our Founders to limit the role of the federal government, and to leave fully protected every fundamental right, including the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children,” Estrada wrote.

HSLDA chairman Mike Farris wrote a 2006 article in which he said his fear is that a future Supreme Court might use Scalia’s logic to justify a ruling against homeschoolers.

“In short, Scalia believes that no right is protected unless it is expressly stated in the text of the Constitution,” Farris wrote. “While most of us like this theory if it is used to reverse Roe v. Wade, we would be quite alarmed if parental rights were suddenly no longer a protected constitutional right.”

The next President could appoint as many as four Supreme Court Justices, Washington Times writer Dave Boyer recently noted. Boyer pointed out that three justices – Scalia (80), Anthony M. Kennedy (80) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83) – will be at least 80 when the next president takes office. A fourth, Stephen G. Breyer, will be 78.

“Justice Scalia’s recent comments are a sobering reminder that we do indeed need an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines the current Supreme Court precedent protecting parental rights in the black-and-white text of the U.S. Constitution,” Estrada wrote.

What is your reaction to Scalia’s comments? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Homeschool Your Kid, Get Assigned A Social Worker

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Chose To Homeschool, Get Assigned A Social Worker

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A family in New York State was threatened with scrutiny by a social worker because parents chose to homeschool their son, the Home School Legal Defense Association says.

The dispute began in Mid-August when the unidentified family in the Minisink Valley Central School District in Orange County, New York, decided to homeschool their son. New York State law requires that parents file a document called an individual home instruction plan, or IHIP, with the school district in order to homeschool.

The parents received the necessary paperwork more than a month later, HSDLA reported. A week after receiving the documents, the parents got a disturbing phone call from a person identified as Lisa Delia, the secretary to Minisink Valley Central’s superintendent of schools. Delia told the parents that they had to turn in the IHIP immediately

“According to state law,” HSLDA wrote in a blog, “a parent has four weeks from receipt of the IHIP form to return it.”

That, though, mattered little to Delia, according to HSLDA.

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“She also informed the family that she would be assigning them a social worker and that their son had to remain in public school until the IHIP was approved,” HSLDA added.

Not surprisingly, the family was alarmed.

HSLDA staff attorney Tj Schmidt contacted Delia, “who admitted that she had called the family but denied saying anything about child protective services (CPS),” HSLDA said. “Schmidt informed Delia that state law allows a family four weeks to complete the IHIP and that the family wasn’t responsible for the district’s long delay in getting them the form. Schmidt also pointed out that state law does not require a child to remain in public school until the IHIP is ‘approved.’”

Delia later acknowledged that she had referenced CPS, but insisted she meant she would contact a social worker only if the IHIP was not submitted, HSLDA said.

Shortly after that conversation, Assistant Superintendent Christian Ranaudo contacted HSDLA and admitted that the family was in compliance with state law and that they had four weeks to submit the paperwork – and that no social worker would be assigned.

Once again, parents in America have had to turn to an attorney to get local school officials to follow state laws on homeschooling.

The Minisink Valley Central School District is located around Port Jervis, New York, or the near intersection of the states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

What is your reaction to this story? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Awaken Your Child’s Love Of History And Put God Back Into History! Read More Here.

Chalkola Chalk Markers = Amazing!

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These Chalk Markers have so many uses! You can write on no-porous items, like glass, mirrors, chalkboards, canisters, and anything else that is non-porous. If you make a mistake or want to change anything just take a damp cloth and wipe it off. Cool!

These make a great addition to any crafty persons bag of tricks. Would be great for any type of Job that you set up displays for , like in a window or glass display case. Imagine – this Christmas using these to make awesome window decor or to label your gifts. Use them to label the champagne glasses at your wedding dinner?? Do your car windows up to support the local school team! The possibilities are just endless on what you could use these for.

These are just so amazing and the fact that you can wash it off with ease is the best part. It takes just a couple of minutes to get them prepped , but after that the chalk paint flows perfectly and you are creating your art!!  Take any DIY project to the next level. Create something amazing.

You can find out more about them Here ~

Teaching The Classics

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I am happy to announce that Lake Lili has agreed to be a regular contributor to Just Plain Marie. Please enjoy this month’s homeschooling article about teaching the classics – something I am just as passionate about!  This is a long article packed with information about classic English literature and how to teach it to […]

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How To Raise A Lifetime Reader

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Many families struggle with convincing their children to read. Others have difficulty pulling their children away from the book shelf – that would be our household! What makes the difference? Why Read? Okay, you are reading this blog post, so you know why our children need to read. Even with the increase in graphic content, […]

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Homeschooling For Your Child’s Passion

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There are two ways to deal with a child who is passionately interested in one subject. The saddest and most unfortunate way is to discount and ignore it. The other is to embrace that passion and build your child’s education around it. My friend Lake Lili shares how she works with her son’s passion for […]

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An Evening With Dr. Temple Grandin

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Have you ever heard of Dr. Temple Grandin? She is not a medical doctor, but a doctor of animal behaviour. She is famous not only for her brilliant mind and her insight into animal behaviour but also because she has autism. Or, as her official description puts it: “Internationally Renowned Livestock Behaviourist, Autism Advocate and […]

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First Day of (Home) School

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I thought I would write about our first day of school. I’m Lake Lili, the resident homeschooling author here on Just Plain Marie! For many of you the first day of school involves registration and bank-breaking trips to the stores, swirled together and capped off with a crowbar to get the kids out of bed, lunches made and out to school […]

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