HEF Newsletter April 2010

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The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators               April 2010

In This Issue

Ask Brenda

Newsletter to Feature Information Vital to Home Educators

Athletics: Know the rules, Avoid the pitfalls

Thank you HEF

Democracy must be Learned by each Generation

HEF at Work for You!

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Tales of Waterville

HEF Travel

Brenda Dickinson

Ask Brenda

Is there a deadline for applying for a Bright Futures scholarship?

Yes. A student must apply during their last year in high school or he forfeits all future eligibility for a Bright Futures Scholarship. An applicant must apply prior to graduation, but the Bright Futures’ Office will accept ACT/SAT scores for tests taken in June of the school year of graduation. The Bright Futures academic year is September 1 through August 31, therefore, a student graduating on or after September 1 would be able to continue taking the ACT/SAT through June of that school year.

Applicants must complete the Initial Student Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA)* during his/her last year in high school. A student may apply online at www.FloridaStudentFinancialAid.org beginning December 1st of his/her last year in high school, but must apply prior to graduation to be considered.

If you have a home education question you would like Brenda to answer in a future issue, please submit it to the Editor at www.flhef.org/contact-us, or use this link directly http://www.flhef.org/contact-us/12-contacts/7-editor

Newsletter to Feature Information Vital to Home Educators

Welcome to the debut issue of The Home Education Foundation’s monthly e-newsletter. Several home educators have volunteered to make this newsletter a reality in order to share with you the most up-to-date news and information important to home educators in Florida.

We will highlight new and pending legislation, as well as vital information and opportunities, to help parents make the best choices and plans to home educate their children. We are disheartened when we hear of families whose children miss out on scholarships, athletic and college opportunities because they are unaware of rules or choices available to them. We hope this newsletter will reach most of the 50,000 Florida families that home educate their children with this vital information.

Our newsletter will be able to bring you timely and accurate information and insights for home educators because HEF’s founder and president, Brenda Dickinson, is at the very heart of home education in Florida. Brenda Dickinson is not just the first to know about changes and challenges to home educators. HEF is most often the reason behind the positive changes or is leading the charge to challenge or fend off legislation and other changes that might adversely affect Florida home educators.

Thanks to the continuing efforts of The Home Education Foundation, Florida parents have more options, more freedoms and perhaps more educational choices than any other parents in the nation.

You can count on The Home Education Foundation Newsletter to keep you up-to-date and informed on the latest news and opportunities to make the most of educating your children at home. We hope you’ll forward and share this e-newsletter with every Florida home educator you know.


Martha Clark, editor

P.S. If you have a story to share about how HEF has helped you, how your family has benefited from home education, or a question you would like to ask Brenda, please e-mail me here.

Athletics: Know the rules, Avoid the pitfalls

Thanks to the Craig Dickinson Act, also dubbed the Tim Tebow law, Florida home educated students have the privilege of participating in extracurricular activities at their zoned public school, at a private school or in a home education cooperative in their area. These options are unique to home educated students since public school students, and at this time, private school students are only eligible to participate in extracurricular activities at the school they attend. Not all private schools will allow home educated student to participate on their sports teams, but most welcome them as a valuable part of the team. Along with this privilege, however, come rules. The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), which governs all public school and member private school athletic programs, has very rigid and strictly enforced rules. Home educators must know and abide by these rules.

This is the first of a series on pitfalls to avoid if your child wants to participate in athletics. The FHSAA rules allow a student 4 years of athletic eligibility beginning with the 9th grade. The student becomes ineligible at 19 years and 9 months of age. This means it is important to plan athletic decisions very carefully so as not to lose a year of eligibility.

The first pitfall to avoid is changing schools. The Florida law states that a student is “eligible in the school in which he or she first enrolls each school year, or makes himself or herself a candidate for an athletic team by engaging in a practice prior to enrolling in any member school… Subsequent eligibility will be determined and enforced through the organization’s bylaws.”

The FHSAA bylaws are very specific about transfers and recruiting and those rules can be unintentionally and inadvertently violated if a parent or student is uninformed. Even conversations can be deemed recruiting. Students have been ruled ineligible and schools have been fined when it was discovered that a student/parent had a conversation with a friend or even the janitor at the new school. Any information about the new school must come directly from the principal.

Student cannot transfer schools during the school year, unless there is an accompanying change of residency. Therefore, a student cannot play one sport at a school and play a different sport at another school in the same academic year.

Students need to be very careful about changing from a public school to a private school over the summer. While recruiting violations can occur when a public school student change to another public school, it does not occur as often because public school students have to get approval (waivers) from the school district to attend a public school other than their assigned or zoned school. Public to private or private to private changes are more carefully scrutinized.

Areas of greatest concern over recruiting would be if a student changes to a different school over the summer after participating on non-school teams or in off-season sports leagues, or when a coach from the previous school moves to the school where the student changes for the next school year.

It would behoove parents to read the FHSAA rules very carefully whenever a student desires to transfer or change to different school after participating with any FHSAA member school, including a middle or junior high school. The bylaws and policies can be found in the FHSAA Handbook at: www.fhsaa.org under the tab Rules and Publications.

In the next issue we will address the second pitfall which is non-school teams and off season sports leagues.

Stephen Eppinger is finishing his freshman year playing on the soccer team at Southeastern University. He has been named to the NCCAA II National Championship all-tournament team. Under the Craig Dickinson Act he played soccer four years at Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee. In 2008-09 he led his team in goals and assists, was named team MVP and named to the Big Ben First Team. His mother, Rebecca, said, “We owe it all to Brenda and applaud her for her tireless efforts to open the doors of opportunity for home educators.”

Thank you HEF

Brenda was an enormous resource and help in resolving an eligibility issue with my son at the local high school and the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association). Thank you Brenda for implementing your knowledge of the by-laws and being a most ardent mediator.”

--Grateful Mother of a high school wrestler in South Florida

Democracy must be Learned by each Generation

By Patricia McClure, home educator and Youth in Government advisor

Editor’s Note: As the FL home education lobbying organization, HEF understands first-hand the importance of knowing about and being involved in the political process. Our newsletter will regularly feature FL home educators and the many ways they learn about and participate in government.

“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than a generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.” President Ronald Reagan

Whether conservative or liberal, republican or democrat, we can all learn something from President Reagan’s quote. As a homeschool mother it is also a mandate; how do I teach my child democracy and equip them to defend freedom? For 15 years I have found one great answer: Florida’s YMCA Youth in Government program, whose motto is: “Democracy must be learned by each generation”.

The program’s goal is to instill servant leadership qualities in 6th-12th grade delegates while teaching them the democratic process. Youth In Government offers students experiences that build character and leadership skills in an environment that abides by the YMCA’s four core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Youth In Government gives students an opportunity to find their voice and then use it. The program not only strengthens the individual; it also strengthens our nation by ensuring the lessons and the importance of democracy are learned by the next generation.

The Youth in Government student delegates can participate in several program areas including:

Legislative: Writing bills, debating bills, presenting amendments and defending beliefs.

Executive: Campaigning for cabinet positions including Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Commissioner of Agriculture and others while setting agenda initiatives.

Judicial: Youth Lawyers, law firms and justices write briefs, argue cases and render legal judgments.

Lobby Firms: Youth lobbyist use accurate and current information to help strengthen the debate and get pieces of legislation passed.

Press: Youth press delegates take video, interview delegates and write articles based on the news of the day.

All of this hard work culminates in a three day intense and “real life experience” at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. This is where all of the state’s Youth in Government clubs gather to put democracy into action.

If you would like to find out more about the Florida Youth in Government program visit their website at www.floridayig.net. If you would like more information on starting a Home Education Youth in Government club, please contact Patricia McClure @ pmcclure@envcs.com.

Devin PlattHomeschool Delegate Devin Platt presents his bill in committee during Youth in Government's State Assembly at the capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.

HEF at Work for You!

April is a very busy month for HEF’s Brenda Dickinson as she works closely with legislators in session that are considering and voting on laws that will impact Florida home educators. Here are a few of the ways HEF has been hard at work for you this month.

  • Worked with Senators and staff to establish Bright Futures Medallion Scholarship scores in statute rather than being determined later by appointed officials.
  • Educated legislators that limiting the time a student has to complete a FLVS course would not save the state money and would be detrimental to students with learning disabilities who need more time to be successful.
  • Attended numerous committee meetings to follow bills which will affect home education and private school students.
  • Senate Education PreK - 12 Committee a McKay Scholarship bill, sponsored by Sen. Gardiner (R) Orlando, passed the committee. It will allow parents to use VPK money on 5 different therapies for children who have an IEP. HEF was able to work on this concept with House staff about 3 years ago. It will bridge the gap for students with disabilities to be able to qualify for a McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities without having to spend a year in public school. The bill has a long way to go and time is running out, but I am hopeful that it will pass.
  • Responded to calls from home education parents about athletic eligibility rules, college entrance requirements of home educators and more. Facilitated conversations between home education families and the Florida High School Athletic Association.
  • Provided home education position on specific pieces of legislation to leadership in the House and Senate.
  • Responded to request from FHSAA to review and provide input on forms required for home education students to participate in athletics.
The Home Education Foundation is supported solely by contributions of Florida home educators.

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