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04/29/2011

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Eric, even though my kids have been in public schools (and, I sit on the local school board), I have always been a bit of a burr under the saddle of folks, as I've stood up for parents--in quiet conversations with friends, colleagues and school officials--who have decided to home school.

Home schooling is a very personal decision, and I agree with you totally that ultimately, the decision should be up to the parents. Some parents are temperamentally better suited to a homeschooling environment, I suspect; just as some kids by nature are better suited for that. I have, on occasion, thought that one of my kids might have done better with me here at home, but that thought came to me only after several years of school, after attachments had already been formed with friends at school.

An interesting aside: Nebraska has a law on the books which currently requires the school district to report absences of any child, in excess of 10 days per semester, to the County Attorney. So far, that hasn't been a big issue, because typically when a child misses that much school, it's due to documented illness, the County Attorney looks at the record, and nothing more is done. I just found out yesterday (unfortunately) about a bill that has a new stipulation--ostensibly on juvenile justice grounds--which could be very concerning: When that 10 days is reported, the County Attorney would then be required to turn the absentee information over to the Department of Social Services, who would then have the authority to "take necessary action". The ramifications for that are more than a little terrifying--our family has had two instances with my 7 year old son, where he has gotten sick, which triggered his asthma, then pneumonia, where we have had him home for *almost* 10 days in a semester (5 days in one quarter, and then the second quarter for 4 days). The current regime allows for a doctor's note, and the school classifying the absences as "excused"--which at 10 days would have triggered a report to the County Attorney, and then nothing more. I'm not sure what would happen under the new regime.

We almost made the same decision when our kids entered school. Looking back, I still don't know what we would have done. My wife is a speech pathologist that works in the schools. She was a stay at home Mom until the youngest was in school, thus it was going to be natural for her to stay home and home school.

We opted for private religious school which has been great. We share the same values and goals with other parents in our church and school. I also serve on the board at our local pool where many of these same parents and kids belong. It is a great community to belong to within the city we live in.

As for the education, I know my kids are getting a good education, but also know they would have gotten just as good if not better education staying at home.

As you, Laura, and most other home schooler people say, it is individual choice. And in the end, only the parents really know what is right for their own kids.

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Thanks, Laura and Triple Hash, for your encouraging thoughts on the subject. That Nebraska truancy law is scary. I'm not up on those types of laws here in SC, which is why we chose to register with SCAIHS (SC Assn. of Independent Home Schools). They're the legally recognized entity in the state and they keep records for us and also watch the laws and provide legal counsel if needed. It's nice to have backup. There are other home-schooling entities within the state as well which exist right alongside SCAIHS and they haven't had any issues that I'm aware of. I'm pretty sure, if something came up, every home-schooling parent and his extended family would be on the capitol steps in a heartbeat.

When I hear of those types of laws, I'm reminded of the talks given by the first home-schoolers and how they would have to jump from state to state in order to keep ahead of the law; all so they could teach their children, who were usually deemed unteachable by the state. Truly remarkable people.

Over the years, the consensus around here has changed. People no longer stigmatize nearly as much as they used to. Or if they still feel that way they're mum on the subject. I'm not quite sure why that is. Maybe some personal story swayed them? Maybe the internet? Hard to say.

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