Archive for 'Politics'

Common Core fails miserably in New York and Wyoming

Does Common Core impact homeschool students? This is an interesting question that I do not have a direct answer to. Arkansas has adopted the Race to the Top and Common Core standards. These standards apply to public schools across the state. As of today, they do not apply to homeschools directly, but that could change. As we have seen with the change over to electronic filing of homeschool forms, the Arkansas Department of Education has no problem changing homeschool law without going through the legislature.

 

New York Public Schools and Wyoming Public Schools have adopted Common Core and joined in Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. Interestingly enough, scores have dropped considerably in both states. The two states are placing the blame on inadequate teacher training for the tests and issues working with a new testing system. These are excuses. If the children were learning, they would know the subject matter on the tests, regardless of the testing format.

 

Educators Oppose Common Core

This is the beginning of the fall-out for Common Core. Parents who are becoming aware of the dumbing-down of public school curriculum based on Common Core, are starting to voice their objection to the standards. The standards are a one-size-fits-all set of rubrics that do not allow for individual schools to come up with programs to fit their students’ needs. This will eventually overflow into the homeschool arena. If Common Core becomes the law of the land, it stands to change or completely eliminate the ability to homeschool our children as we see fit.

 

Parents and educators alike in Arkansas and other states oppose Common Core as it is based on an unproven set of standards. The very same model and standards were abandoned by European Countries several years ago. Reason being—these standards do not improve student performance and they simply do not work.

 

Invasion of Privacy

Another hidden agenda of Common Core is student tracking. States that have adopted Common Core are tracking your kids—not only through test scores but by immunization and other medical records, IEP for special needs students, forms requiring parents to divulge income and employment for school lunch programs, and observations made by teachers and public school staff. The data being collected at the public school level is personally identifiable and there is no protection under the law for these records. They are available to all state and federal agencies.

 

Arkansas law states that information collected through the Notice of Intent and Waiver Forms, and data collected through mandatory testing of homeschool students can only be used for reporting in ways that are not personally identifying. But this goes against the Race to the Top and Common Core mandates that the state must abide by.

 

Oregon’s GOP recently adopted a resolution opposing Common Core Educational Standards. Part of the resolution states “Whereas: Common Core is being used to build a comprehensive database to measure students’ progress and gather other personal, non-academic data…” and “Whereas: Data may be obtained not only by questioning students but by the use of facial-monitoring equipment, neuro-psychological testing and senors which are strapped to their bodies and…””

 

The invasion of privacy associated with Common Core is real. Before Arkansas travels down a path that it cannot easily undo, let’s talk to our legislatures and educators and have Arkansas opt out of Common Core.

Posted on 13 August '13 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Homeschool Politics, News, Politics. No Comments.

Parents beware of electronic filing of homeschool forms in Arkansas

I should have written this sooner, as the deadline to file your Notice of Intent and Waiver forms in Arkansas is coming up on August 15. According to state law, you must have your form postmarked by midnight, August 15, in order to be in compliance with the law. Parents can hand deliver the forms to their local Superintendents office. Families new to homeschooling in Arkansas must hand deliver the forms. This year, parents can file the form online—I strongly advise against this.

 

I am not against the concept of electronic filing. Actually, it is a good idea. When this option first appeared, I was all for it. Finally, I thought, Arkansas is entering the 21st Century.

 

The parent instruction manual (32 pages) for the online filing option and the emails that are sent from the Arkansas Department of Education contain wording that gives the ADE the legal ability to approve or deny a homeschool application. Nothing in the homeschool law gives the ADE this power. The law specifically states that only the local Superintendent of Schools can deny a homeschool application if one of the following conditions are met:

 

1) The homeschool student must be transferring from public school to a homeschool AND one of the following:

  • The student is currently under disciplinary action and that action has not been completed or the student has been expelled.
  • Or, The student has chronic attendance and discipline problems and the Superintendent of Schools believes the parents are attempting to circumvent truancy laws.
  • Or, there is a person living in the household who is required to register with the National Sex Offender Database. This does not apply if the person being homeschooled is the offender.

 

If a parent is not transferring from a public school to homeschool during the year, then the above situations do not apply (except for the sex offender criteria.) As long as a parent files by August 15 for the first semester, December 15 for the second semester or files within 30 days of moving into the state, then there is no waiting period or approval period.

 

Second, the law states that all new homeschoolers must hand deliver their forms to their local Superintendent of Schools. Online filing is not hand delivering. This is a change in the law and it must go through proper channels to have this changed.

 

Do not file online this year. Doing so gives the ADE the ability to change the law by default. Make the ADE go through proper legislative channels to change the homeschool law. Too many of us have had to fight too hard for too long to see our right to homeschool be taken from us without a legal fight. Keep the ADE within its legal guidelines. Until the wording in all communications from the ADE is changed or until they post a public notice or press release on their website stating that they are not approving homeschools and this is indeed an error in wording, I strongly advise homeschool parents to file by mail or in person. Do not file your forms electronically this year.

 

–Lynda

Posted on 13 August '13 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Homeschool Politics, News, Politics. No Comments.

Arkansas Homeschool Families Should Not File Notice of Intent Online

Finally, the state of Arkansas wants to make things easier for homeschoolers by allowing us to fill out and file the Notice of Intent and Waiver forms online. While it may seem that the state is trying to simplify the process, this is actually a power grab by the Arkansas Department of Education(ADE) and it should not be tolerated. I am urging parents to forgo online registration this year and to keep filing by mail.

 

According to Lisa Crook at ADE, the new electronic filing is a way to track parents who are trying to circumvent truancy laws by homeschooling their children. If you read the Parent Tutorial very carefully, the language changes from review of the parents Notice of Intent and Waiver forms to approval of the forms. This is in direct conflict with the current homeschool law (see the links at the right side of the page) . Nothing in the current law gives the ADE the power to approve or deny a parent’s right to homeschool. The only way a parent can legally be denied the right to homeschool is if their child is currently under discipline by a public school and that discipline measure has not been met, the child is expelled or someone in the home is a registered sex offender.

 

Another change to the law is the requirement that all homeschoolers file online by 2014-2015 school year. The written law states that all new homeschoolers must bring their forms into the local Superintendents office in person. Requiring new homeschoolers to file online (which by the way is a good idea) is a change to the law which must be done by the legislature or by the governor through an executive order.

 

Why the uproar? As a close friend of mine put it, “this is a power grab” by the ADE. If enough homeschoolers file online this year, they can claim that they can approve or deny your right to homeschool by default. This new format for filing forms is not about making it easier for homeschoolers, it is a way for the state to start tracking homeschoolers in the same manner as they track the public school kids. It is about taking advantage of homeschoolers who do not know the law. And finally, it is about giving up our rights without consent or knowledge.

 

Do not give the ADE any power to approve homeschool forms? This is outside of their legal bounds. I contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association about this, but because I am not a paid member they blew me off and suggested that I join HSLDA in order to speak directly with one of their legal representatives. Shows you where their loyalties are, either you have to be an Evangelical Christian fleeing a country that is not homeschool friendly or you have to be a paid member. So what if the Arkansas Department of Education is trying to take away your right to homeschool and to illegally change the law—if you’re not a member, it is not their problem.

 

I have to admit, I am at fault here. When I submitted my forms online, I only glanced through the parent tutorial (located on the right sidebar, Read it carefully before deciding to fill out the forms online.) It was not until I received the email stating my forms were waiting approval from ADE did it raise an eyebrow. If you look at your pending forms, it will state waiting approval from ADE. These are legal documents and the ADE has hijacked the homeschool law and placed themselves as overseers of homeschoolers.

 

6-15-502. Rules, regulations, and procedures for monitoring and enforcing provisions.

“ (a) The provisions of § 6-18-201(a) shall be self-executing, and the State Board of Education shall have no authority to promulgate rules, regulations, or guidelines for the enforcement or administration thereof.

 

 (b) The board is empowered to make such reasonable rules and regulations required for the proper administration of this subchapter which are not inconsistent with the intent of this subchapter.

 

History. Acts 1985 (1st Ex. Sess.), No. 40, § 7; 1985 (1st Ex. Sess.), No. 42, § 7; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1503.10; Acts 1995,

No. 1296, § 15; 1997, No. 400, § 1”

 

If you read provision (a) above, it clearly specifies that the ADE cannot change or make any rules or regulations outside of what is stated in the homeschool law. But this whole wording of approval by the ADE for those that file electronically only is in direct conflict with the above quoted law.

 

As homeschoolers, we should all inform Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Commissioner of Education, that we will not stand for this hostile takeover of homeschooling by his department. It is time to exercise our rights under the law and get the wording of the electronic filing to fit within the current homeschool law. Hold the ADE accountable and make them abide by Arkansas law. If we sit by an do nothing, next year we will all be waiting for state approval before we can legally homeschool.

Posted on 31 July '13 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Politics. No Comments.

The Romeike Decision: Why it benefits U.S. homeschoolers

Romeike Decision

Don’t misunderstand the title of this post. I believe that the Romeike family should be allowed to stay in the United States. However, their defense attorney, Michael Farris, from the Home School Legal Defense Association failed to prove his case and now the family faces deportation. I would rather see the U.S. go after those who are in this country illegally, lets start with those in jail, instead of picking on a family who just wants to homeschool their kids. But, that is not the purpose of this post.

 

What everyone seems to be missing is that this decision is good for U.S. homeschoolers. It turns out that the press, especially Christian based press, which was claiming that homeschoolers in America would loose their right to homeschool if the courts ruled against the Romeike family, was wrong. In fact, the Romeike Decision strengthened parental rights in the U.S. You can read the entire decision by clicking on the link at the top of this post. It is a copy of the court document.

 

The Romeike’s appeal for asylum was denied on May 14, 2013. A unanimous decision of the Sixth District Court stated that “…the United States Constitution protects the rights of “parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control,” Yoder, 406 U.S. at 233; see Pierce, 268 U.S. at 534–35; Meyer, 262 U.S. at 400–01…”

 

So, although the ruling states that homeschooling is not grounds for asylum under political and religious persecution, the ruling reaffirms parental rights for U.S. residents. The Romeike’s lost their appeal, but U.S. homeschoolers won a battle – reaffirmation of homeschooling as a Constitutional right. Every time a court rules in the favor of, or supports homeschooling in a decision, it helps to keep our right to homeschool alive.

 

I feel for the Romeike family. My heart goes out to them. Having to live with the possibility of losing your children must be awful. But this is out of our hands. The family can continue to fight the court’s decision and face possible deportation, they can look for another country to take them in, or they can return to Germany. The latter would be the worst option for them if they decide to continue to homeschool. Losing their children to the state is a very real possibility for them. But this is how it is in Europe. Most European countries have very strict rules regarding homeschooling.

 

In the United States, we are fortunate to have a Constitution that recognizes individual rights and freedoms. The recent decision against the Romeike family supports and reaffirms our rights as homeschooling parents. Justices of the Sixth District Court did an outstanding job. They found that the Romeike’s defense did not prove their case, but the Justices also managed to protect the rights of parents in the U.S. to homeschool their children. It was a good decision. I wish the Romeike family peace and happiness in their quest to find a place to homeschool their children.

Posted on 22 May '13 by , under Homeschool Politics, Politics. No Comments.

Tell the U.S. Government to leave the Romeike family alone

What is up with the U.S. Government? In a case that I find mind-boggling, the Department of Justice is looking to deport a German family who came here under the promise of political and religious asylum. After being granted asylum in 2010, the Romeike family moved to rural Tennessee and continued to homeschool their children. They are law abiding people. The kids are good kids and they don’t get into trouble. Uwe Romeike supports his family by giving piano lessons. And yet, the Government says they should go back to Germany. Wow.

 

This is not a political blog. I have enough on my plate dealing with breast cancer and getting my high school senior ready to enter community college in the fall. I really am not in a mindset to take up a cause. But, this situation should scare every homeschooler in the United States. Why? If the Romeike family is deported, we all could lose our right to homeschool our children.

 

Is homeschool a fundamental right?

The U.S. Attorney General’s position is this situation is that the right to homeschool is not a fundamental right. That is why the Justice Department is trying to deport the Romeike family. Our Government is claiming that the Romeike family does not have the right to raise their children as Evangelical Christians in a homeschool environment. They say that in Germany that homeschoolers are not a recognizable group because not all homeschoolers are Christian and not all Christians homeschool their children. Since when do you have to be part of a group to seek asylum?

 

What happens to homeschoolers if the Romeike family is deported? It sets legal precedence that homeschooling for religious reasons is not a fundamental right. Get that–not a fundamental right. It removes the protection under the Constitution for us to homeschool our children.

 

Michael Farris and the HSLDA have an alternative agenda

Many people, especially those who are not Christian, feel that Michael Farris does not always have the general homeschool population’s best interest at heart. Sometimes this is true. He follows his path of very conservative Christianity—he is not secretive about that. Other times, he is dead on and this is one of those times. This is all about the possibility of losing our rights to homeschool and to raise our children as we see fit. Check out Glenn Beck on the Romeike Family situation

 

A brave new precedence

Our legal system is a set of laws that are interpreted by precedence. We get to homeschool legally because judges across America interpreted the U.S. Constitution to protect homeschooling under personal freedoms and fundamental rights. This case, brought against the Romeike family says that homeschooling is not a fundamental right. That overturns precedence and sets a new one. The  next time a school district says that parents allowing their kids to be truant or that a divorced parent says their kids must attend public school against the other parent’s will, our homeschool kids will be going to public school if the Department of Justice has its way.

 

I am still confused as to why the U.S. Government would force a family back to Germany where they are sure to lose custody of their kids to the German Government. How is ripping a family apart a good thing. Got to the HSDLA’s website and sign the petition. Yes, it is that important.

 

–off my soapbox now

Lynda

Posted on 22 March '13 by , under Homeschool Politics, News, Politics. No Comments.

Are U.S. Schools Heading for Disaster?

Here is a link to an article I wrote for Associated Content. “Are U.S. Schools at Their Breaking Point?” We are lagging behind most other industrial nations.  NCLB needs to be undone. Standardized testing is promoting cheating among those who should know better. Teachers and administrators are changing kid’s tests in order to meet NCLB guidelines. The system is truly broken. Perhaps the nation’s educators should look to the homeschool community. We know what works.

 

Let me know what you think.

–Lynda

Posted on 12 July '11 by , under Educational scandals, Politics, Ramblings and Rumors. No Comments.

Arkansas Legislative Update

Two bills were defeated this afternoon. SB578 and SB774.

SB578 would have allowed for Arkansas homeschoolers to receive the Governor’s Distinguished Scholar Scholarships. Not only did they kill this bill, but the way that it was defeated it is not allowed to be revisited next session. This scholarship goes to students who score 32 or higher on the ACT and can demonstrate high GPA and leadership qualities. The problem is, is that students are required to show leadership by participation in student council and by holding other school club offices. Homeschoolers do not have schools but the participate in 4H, scouts, church and other activities that demonstrate leadership. Rep. Johnnie Roebuck was key to killing this bill. We should all call her and ask her why she is so predjudiced against homeschoolers. See the debate here

SB774 also known as the Tim Tebow Bill was defeated by a single vote. This bill would have allowed homeschoolers to play on public school teams, including high school teams. The current law states that homeschooled children are banned from participating in any AAA event.

Call your state legislators and give them an earful!

–Lynda

Posted on 1 April '11 by , under Homeschool Politics, Politics. 3 Comments.

Tim Tebow Bill Passes Senate – Referred to House Education Committee

SB774 passed the Arkansas State Senate today. It was read and sent to the House Education Committee. As soon as I have the bill number for the house, I will post it here.

–Lynda

Posted on 29 March '11 by , under Homeschool Politics, Homeschooling through high school, Politics. No Comments.

Tim Tebow Bill Set for Third Reading and Passage by the Education Committee

SB774 also known as the “Tim Tebow Bill” is set for a third reading by the Senate Education Committee with a recommendation that it passes committee and goes to the Senate.

SB774 if passed, will allow homeschool students to participate in extra-curricular sports and interscholastic activities. When the bill first went to committee, I was hopeful for reasonable legislation. Amendment 2 changed that. There are three amendments to the bill. Amendment 1 was retracted and replaced by amendment 2. This changed the wording of the bill to require homeschoolers wanting to participate to take norm-referenced standardized tests every semester. Although yearly testing is required for all students in grades 3 through 9, public school students do not have to take the benchmarks. Currently, homeschool parents have the option of taking the yearly mandated tests provided by the state of Arkansas.

Requiring testing twice a year for homeshool students wanting to participate in band, choir, dance and sports is excessive. High school students in grades 10 through 12 that homeschool would have to pay for their kids to test. For other students, testing that was done in the spring will not be valid for fall and winter sports. The new version of the “Tim Tebow” law would require testing in the fall prior to trying out for football, soccer, or other sports.

Another drawback to this law is that it opens the door to more rigourous homeschool legislation. I feel that Arkansas needs to allow homeschoolers to participate in public school activities, but only if the homeschool kids are subject to the requirements as public school kids.

–Lynda

Posted on 29 March '11 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Homeschool Politics, News, Politics. 1 Comment.

Education Secretary Duncan Says No Child Left Behind Act is Broken

According to a recent speech made by Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, 80 percent of America’s schools are not expected to make adequate yearly progress next year. This means that four out of five schools are not meeting the guidelines detailed in the “No Child Left Behind Act”. Secretary Duncan feels that NCLB is broken. He stated that radical changes are necessary in order to bring America’s schools into the 21st century… Read the entire story here

Posted on 22 March '11 by , under Politics. No Comments.

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