What’s in a name? Homeschooling: “…in terms so plain and firm as to command…”

“This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.” Thomas Jefferson in “A Letter to Henry Lee”images-1

Oh, to be like Thomas Jefferson, the writer!

In the above quotation, Thomas Jefferson shared with Henry Lee his recollection of what had inspired and informed its authors and signers. His leadership arrayed in plainness of language, precision and diligent training, held a place in defining the “common sense of the subject” of independence to the American mind. And those principles held fast for almost two centuries.

Allow me to try, with fingers crossed-to place before dear readers plainness and clarity regarding the language of Michigan’s Independent Schoolers.

Recent Michigan legislative attempts (Increased regulation for homeschoolers in Michigan proposed), (Common Core is not just about standards- Karen Braun Stopcommoncoreinmichigan, national bills  4 Ways HR 610 will threaten your rights) and confused terminology regarding  parents exiting the public schools command Michigan parents’ attention to the name “Homeschooling”.

Parental freedoms and access to our children are challenged by obtuse assumptions of well-meaning legislators who scratch their heads wondering about “homeschoolers,” a minority of the tax base, who wants family togetherness between the hours of 8am and 4 pm, yet seems confused at what it wants from government. Some like a little help and guidance from state and federal k-12 programs. Perhaps they accept vouchers or enroll back into taxpayer funded partnerships with schools, re-enrolling children as part time public school students and getting requirements in exchange for free or next-to-free classes.

Some do not want connection with schools at all and wish to remain one hundred percent free from regulations or requirements, rejecting taxpayer monies to ensure these freedoms.

State officials routinely demonstrate they do not know laws(Michigan State Board of Education Meeting video Nov. 9, 2010pt.2) relating to Homeschooling, arguably the very reason for the existence of HSLDA and INCH.

Advocacy groups must be seen to identify the homeschooling demographic clearly by legislators in order to advocate for their educational liberties at all.

Therefore it has been incumbent  upon Home School Legal Defense Association, Conservatives for  Traditional Values and Information Network of Christian Homeschoolers in Michigan for the past decade to plainly present clear distinction in the interest of keeping education in the hands of parents alone. Each association lays claim to lead homeschoolers (HSLDA Mission Statement) and asks homeschoolers to support them monetarily and follow their lobbying lead (Information Network Christian Homes- Why attend convention? see “legislative work”)

My plain appeal to both organizations, HSLDA and CTV/ INCH would be to fulfill your stated goals and mission for homeschoolers, defining “Homeschooler” as that family which delivers education which is privately funded and parent led and receives no taxpayer monies for education. Define “Homeschooling” as separate from “Part-time public schooling” where the family receives money from the state or federal government and requirements to fulfill for their guidance. Apply the math of those attached funds in your literature, your website and offerings out of the kindness of clarity and the fulfilling of your stated mission.

Oppose confused language in program literature targeted to Exodus families, those leaving the state school system, which do not speak plainly where the mathematics of funding makes competing interests clear.

Stand for the same clarity in websites and literature from taxpayer funded community service providers and parent partnerships, asking that they clearly identify their services as for “Part-time public schooling” families.

Exodus parents are to be applauded for their courage and bravery. They are often blazing a new trail as pioneers, the first generation in their family lines to take primary responsibility for educational content of their families. Many times they face fears and lack of support from grandparents, siblings and most recent circles of community.Let their transition from the brick-and-mortar be clearly marked and understood, when they choose to either accept or reject government funding.

It is unkind to serve those still wanting funding and requirements from the state to a cocktail of confused terminology-rather, when the math warrants through state funding and requirements, clearly offer these families the designation “Part Time Public Schoolers.”

By all means, statewide Homeschooling Support group, offer aid  to PTPS families, welcome them to your events, introduce them to parent-led privately funded options, clearly termed “Homeschooling”, and be assured that independent homeschoolers will invite them as well-but do not call them “Homeschoolers” or fail to diligently define proper designation in the community, the math must determine the terms, particularly when we exist in the realities of  well-meaning legislators “confused” on whether we should be regulated by the State or not.

State Advocacy groups, Homeschoolers and Part-time Public Schooling families will either grasp the mathematical truths of these designations faithfully responding  to their varying needs, or non-brick-and-mortar schoolers of all kinds will be pulled down into state restrictions by our identity confusion and the creation of a befuddled state legislature.




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