Thursday, January 26, 2006

Yes, Virginia...You CAN Homeschool Without a College Degree!

Yes, Virginia...You CAN Homeschool Without a College Degree!
This is the title of an article on the VaHomeschoolers site.
Under the current Home Instruction Statute, homeschoolers are already being taught by parents without college degrees, lots of them!

Currently, there are bills (SB499/HB1340) moving through the Virginia General Assembly that would allow parents without a college degree to homeschool their children more easily. In reality, parents without a college degree can already homeschool their children pretty easily and this bill really just eliminates one hoop that they have successfully negotiated since the Home Instruction Statute was written in 1984.

Let me explain. There are 4 options for homeschooling in the commonwealth of Virginia.
Any one of these four criteria qualifies the parent for homeschooling under Virginia's home instruction statute:

Option 1--holds a baccalaureate degree in any subject from an accredited institution of higher education

Option 2--is a teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education

Option 3--has enrolled the child or children in a correspondence course approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction

Option 4--provides a program of study or curriculum which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, includes the standards of learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education for language arts and mathematics and provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.

The new proposed bill will eliminate Opt 4 with its paperwork and change Opt 1 to read:
--holds a high school diploma. That's it, that's the whole change.

While the media will probably be confused and present this as a profound change and a big victory for homeschoolers and a lowering of standards, it is none of those things!

This is a small change that eliminates one step of paperwork!
Which is a small, but welcome victory for homeschoolers


The change is morethanfine, it is just minor.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ding Dong the Bill is dead!

Happily the bad bill HB 537 died quietly in subcommittee yesterday. Now we wait to see what happens with the 3 good homeschooling bills moving through the General Assembly. There is a bill that would change the requirement for all homeschooling parents to solely a high school diploma, there is a bill that would require school districts to offer the PSAT to homeschoolers and one that would tie up some nagging loose ends in the Home Instruction Statute.

All 3 bills have been worked on together by both statewide organizations and have a fighting chance this session...morethanfine, anyway you look at it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Come Visit the HEMisphere

On a Yahoo list recently, someone referred (in a less than complimentary way) to the "HEMisphere". The reference is to the wide and varied activities that emanate from the publishers of HEM aka Home Education Magazine. The focus is all things relating to independent homeschooling. If you are unfamiliar with the HEMisphere, it is very easy to check out on-line. Just start here:

You will find homeschooling resources, HEM's on-line presence of blogs and e-lists and the actual print magazine---the HEMisphere is swirling with morethanfine people, ideas and resources.

That and VAEclecticHS are my favorite on-line places.

VaHomeschoolers Leg Report: the bad bill 2006

This kind of bill is why VaHomeschoolers Govt Affairs committee watches what is being introduced everyday in the General Assembly. We feel that this bill was not intended to be malicious and its patron is actually sympathetic towards homeschoolers. We feel confident this will be resolved positively (which would certainly be the morethanfine outcome!)

VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report
January 2006 by Celeste Land, Government Affairs

New Home Instruction Bill HB 537 Would Heavily Regulate Homeschoolers

As the 2006 legislative session begins in Virginia, the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers would like its members to be aware of an especially dangerous bill, HB 537, which has been introduced in the House of Delegates. If passed, HB 537 would create significant additional regulation and oversight for homeschoolers across the state. VaHomeschoolers opposes HB 537.

Status of HB 537:
HB 537 (Parrish, R-Manassas) was introduced at the request of the
Manassas City Public Schools, at least partially in response to a
difficult situation involving a custody dispute. Hard cases make bad laws, and this particular bill, if passed, would have unfortunate implications for thousands of families well beyond the single case it was designed to address.

VaHomeschoolers is working with Delegate Parrish's office and other
homeschooling organizations to try to resolve this quickly and peacefully. It is our hope that the patron will withdraw this legislation before it comes to committee. Delegate Parrish is a friend of homeschooling and did not intend to harm or offend homeschoolers with this legislation. As such, we do not recommend action by our members at this time. We will keep you informed of HB 537's status as the session progresses.

For complete text of HB 537 or any other bills, see "Legislative Information" on the General Assembly's web page at or contact VaHomeschoolers for more information.

Stillwater--a new effort

Helen Hegener of Home Education Magazine has started a new on-line effort for homeschoolers nationally---morethanfine...join in!


~Building Understanding and Perspective~


Vol. 1, Issue 1, Weekly Edition
Monday, January 16, 2006


Quaere verum - Seek the truth


-SHA Goals

Working for a greater understanding of homeschooling issues and concerns, thereby promoting a more informed, cohesive and effective homeschooling community.

The long term goals of the Alliance shall include encouraging grassroots homeschooling efforts, providing homeschool-specific information to groups and individuals, and advancing the rights and responsibilities of parents who wish to educate their children at home.

As a first step in achieving these goals this Alliance will work toward developing a coalition of individuals, support groups, businesses, organizations and other entities which support the long term interests of the homeschool movement.

This Alliance will also work toward the development of The Stillwater Institute for Homeschooling Research and Studies, which will seek to inform legislators, educators, media reporters, legal professionals, researchers and others with a bona fide interest in homeschooling via position statements, news releases, white papers, opinion pieces and more.


The Stillwater Homeschool Alliance Discussion List

Interactive communications for the week of January 9-15 at the group discussion list:


-Current Projects for SHA

* Create a Handout for legislatures
A few examples that were shared :


Website Progress Report

SHA has secured the following website URLs:

We are actively seeking people experienced in website management and anyone interested in learning more about designing, creating, and maintaining a community-oriented site to promote the work of the Alliance.


Weekly Quotes from the Discussion List

"SHA's goal is to provide reliable information, resources, tools,
support and whatever else is necessary to empower individuals and
groups of individuals to roll their sleeves up and do the work that
needs to be done." -Helen Hegener

"The only way that we can protect what we have is by grass roots
organizing. When accurate information is available to people --when
they know their rights, and, as we tell folks at our hs info
meetings, they let others know that they know their rights, people
have the ability to empower themselves." -Debra in Ohio

"Stillwater does not seek to be 'another voice representing all
homeschoolers'. That's wrong, we do not all belong to or support any
org. Stillwater seeks to empower and educate homeschoolers so they
can represent themselves as individuals, or assist them in forming
their own group to represent themselves." -Mary McCarthy

"If no other organization works toward providing an alternative
voice, then HSLDA is the de facto voice of homeschooling." -Valerie

"HSLDA stands for federalization of homeschooling - the proof of
that is the legislation that they have already had passed to put the word homeschooling in about 12 places in federal statute, as well as the pieces of legislation that they are currently pushing to have passed." -Judy Aron

"I can't imagine not educating myself on what is really happening
out in the world regarding my freedoms! I don't believe we can take
it for granted that homeschooling will always just 'be.'" -Laura in

"And along with the mindsets of the population in general, the other major task awaiting is that of changing the mindsets of the
legislators who think that they really own our children." -Mary Hud

"As I see it, the education of our families is a fundamental right,
no matter what the latest law states. If we understand that
fundamental right and build on it, we can and will know our rights,
stand our ground and let others know we are an informed citizenry."
-Mary Nix


Thanks for reading, and a special thank you to our volunteers who
work to provide in-depth information and ideas that help to protect
and maintain homeschooling freedoms. Join us on the Stillwater
Homeschool Alliance discussion list:

~Tracy Merritt, editor

Readers are encouraged to forward this newsletter in its entirety,
including headers and footers, to others who might also find its
contents helpful. © 2006 STILLWATER HOMESCHOOL ALLIANCE (All rights

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Homeschool vs the School Board

More and more lately, cases are coming up in Virginia of homeschoolers wanting part-time access to public school classes or activities and also, situations where homeschoolers are involved, someone discovers a policy against it and then the homeschooler is booted. This happened in Virginia Beach recently where a girl was booted from a Latin class, but later allowed to return and in Isle of Wight County where a band star was booted when another unhappy parent brought up the no homeschooler policy--that is still pending. Sadly, the boy actually enrolled in school to be able to compete in the band's competition season but was so severly bullied he dis-enrolled shortly after.

I think many homeschoolers would like the public schools to be like public libraries or public parks--available to use when needed, without compulsion or extra oversight. But often the attitude of the public school bureaucracy is 'if we let one homeschooler in, they'll all want in and we will be swamped' or 'they chose to leave, let them tough it out on their own'.

I wonder would they be swamped if all the homeschoolers suddenly re-enrolled fulltime?
Couldn't they set a 'space available' policy forpart time enrollment by home (or private) schoolers?
Is the job of the public school to help educate all the children or just the ones they have fulltime influence over?

I am hoping that as more of these situations arise, more school boards will relax their policies and allow public school to be more like a public library or a community college, where all members of the community (who support these institutions with their tax dollars) can take advantage of educational opportunities as needed or desired. That would be morethanfine.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Monitoring legislation

I have the fun of monitoring legislation in the Virginia General Assembly for VaHomeschoolers. Fun you say? Actually, it is like a treasure hunt--searching terms and then following leads on specific bills introduced that might affect homeschooling.

If you have any interest in following the workings of the legislature in your state, look for your state government's official page and there will probably be a way to search bills of interest and maybe even a tutorial on how to search.

Another bit of legislation that I am following (just because I feel like it) concerns the future management of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. This most amazing engineering marvel currently is run very well by a private board, but the state is considering taking over---bad idea VDOT is not a shining example of good govt management--in fact it is the opposite.
So I am watching that bit of legislation with interest.

I also search each day for bills to be introduced affecting truancy laws, extracurricular access, driver's education and high school diplomas, as assigned by our government affairs committee. The Virginia General Assembly convenes tomorrow and is in session for 60 days until March 11th.

Okay, I know it sounds tedious, but it is really a blast! Totally morethanfine!

The evangelical way

On a yahoo list yesterday someone said that the characteristic evangelical protestant model of getting things done is (and I paraphrase): 1) form a group
2) pass out assignments
3) act
4) get stuff done
5) clean up the mess afterwards.

I found this troublesome! And it is not characteristic of evangelical groups I have been involved with---at least not of the one I have chosen to remain involved with. The evangelical model from my experience goes more like this:
1) pray
2) gather as a group to discuss and pray together
3) discuss possible consequences and pray about them
4) consult with those who have wisdom and experience and ask them to pray
5) consult with those who might be affected or whose help might be needed and pray with them
6) assign tasks--including assigning some to pray for the tasks & the workers
7) act
8) get stuff done
9) praise God for His work
10) take responsibility for any mess that might result and do all you can to clean it up and humbly apologize to those affected and pray for reconciliation if needed.

Okay, now I realize what was wrong with the first model--that one little thing that is glaringly missing---ya gotta pray.
Of course if there is no prayer there is gonna be a lot of mess to clean up. With prayer there may still be a mess...we are only human after all... but there is a much better chance that people will not be hurt and resentments will give way to forgiveness, that is a much morethanfine model in my book.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Today we are...unschooling

Today at our unschool we are:
reading aloud
playing Roller Coaster Tycoon
playing monopoly
folding laundry
practicing piano x 3
practicing guitar
practicing bass
making beds
brushing teeth
cooking oatbran muffins for dad
playing math shark
playing monkey typing
playing space invaders
going to the library
listening to 'The Two Towers' on tape

Alot of playing and practicing going on! I love unschooling it is soo morethanfine.
On a yahoo list lately someone was trying to define unschooling as un-everything; unlearning, unparenting, unintellectual, undisciplined. We tried to explain that unschooling is best left 'un-defined' lol or at least defined by the families and the learners involved. It isn't easily explained by axioms or generalizations and it does take a large measure of trust in our children that they actually will learn, because of us or in spite of us :)

I have spiritual reasons for trusting my kids to learn--I believe God made them to learn. I also trust God to help them learn and help me help them to learn and I trust God to guide them in the paths they will best follow.

It is so freeing to let go of the PS brainwashing and watch actual learning happen.
joy, joy, joy

I am repeating Annie Sullivan's quote because it is sooo perfect for unschoolers:
"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less slowly. Let him come and go freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table while a sweet-voiced teacher suggest that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of colored paper, or plant straw trees in flower pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences. "

Have a morethanfine day and I hope you get to spend it unschooling!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Some Favorite Quotes

These are some of my favorite unschooling related quotes. Anne Sullivan's really reflects my personal view of 'education'

Anne Sullivan

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less slowly. Let him come and go freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table while a sweet-voiced teacher suggest that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of colored paper, or plant straw trees in flower pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences. "

Albert Einstein

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."
"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

Stephanie -my friend from VAEclectic
(she didn't write it, she just made it famous lol)
"Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he's not interested it's like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating."

Agatha Christie
" I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas. "

George Bernard Shaw
" What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child. "

Justice Sandra Day O'Conner

"So long as a parent adequately cares for his or her children [i.e., is fit], there will normally be no reason for the state to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent's children."

(in the U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion TROXEL Vs. GRANVILLE:)

Homeschool Politics

Welcome to the stage one in the development of the Federal Dept of Homeschooling

HR 1815 was presented to the President on January 3, 2006.

Many in the home education community followed the bill when we learned that the military section of HR 3735, The Homeschool Non Discrimination Act (HONDA) had been slipped into the bill on November 15th. Many called to object to this addition, but there were only days to act and we are told there simply weren’t enough calls received. In response to homeschoolers objections to section 522, an H$LDA representative was quoted at the time as saying: “IF we fail in our effort to get section 522 signed into law, we’ll try something else, but we won’t give up. It’s been seven years already; it may be seven more years before we feel like homeschool grads have a level path to military service.”

The original section that we objected to that pertains to home educators can now be found in Sec. 591 and will become law.

Part of it reads:

"the Secretary of Defense shall prescribe a single set of criteria to be used by the Armed Forces in determining whether an individual is a graduate of home schooling."


I love/hate the holidays

I love the holidays, I love the decorations and the music and the chance of snow (not this year in SE VA) andI love candlelight services and cookies and Christmas gatherings and piano recitals.
It was thrilling to have my 14yo play piano for the offeratory Christmas morning. He played a very dramatic version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' and got one of those moments of hush before everyone applauded (yes we clap for stuff like that in our church :)---it was morethanfine! He really didn't want to do it, but agreed to do it for me as a Christmas gift (sniff, sniff--pass the kleenex).

I hate the holidays, the busyness, the cold damp (non-snowy) weather and wrapping presents. (I like buying them and opening them, just not fonding of wrapping them.)

Okay I really love them way more than I hate them :)
So, I am sad that all the decorations are put away and the tree is waiting at the curb for the city to haul it away, but I am glad that life is calm again and I don't have to check the calendar everyday to see if there is an event/recital/concert that I forgot!

Happy New Year!