HEF Newsletter October 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 October 2010
In This Issue

Ask Brenda

Counting the Cost of 'Free' Curriculum

Home Education Candidates in the 2010 Elections

HEF at Work for You!

Thank you HEF

Learn Civics by Experience


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Learning At Home

Tales of Waterville

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Brenda Dickinson

Ask Brenda

Can a middle school student participate in band?

There are two parts to this answer:

1.
If the middle school participates in interscholastic extracurricular activities governed by a statewide organization, such as The Florida School Music Association (FSMA), then the school must allow the student to participate in the band class.


2. If the middle school is not a member of the FSMA, then the student could participate if the school district has a part-time enrollment policy which permits home education students to take classes on a part-time basis at a public school. Some school districts have part-time enrollment policies and others do not. Generally, the home education contact at the school district would know if the school district has a part-time enrollment policy.


If you have a home education question you would like Brenda to answer in a future issue, please submit it to www.flhef.org/contact-us.

Counting the Cost of 'Free' Curriculum

Editor's Note: A “new” way of "schooling" your child at home is being aggressively marketed and threatens to change the face of home education throughout Florida and the nation. Home education began as a way for parents to take both control and responsibility for their child’s education, these school district full-time programs, providing “free” curriculum, relieve parents of the financial responsibility, but they also limit, and in some cases eliminate, the parent’s privilege of making big and small choices in their child’s education. The "free” curriculum comes with State regulations and parents should take time to understand the differences and count the cost as they choose wisely which method, home education or “public school at home,” is right for their family.


When searching the internet for home education sites and supplies there are numerous advertisements for “free” home school programs. “Home educators can purchase the same curriculum directly from the vendors, but when parents accept the free curriculum through their school district, the child becomes a full-time public school student,” explained Brenda Dickinson, President of The Home Education Foundation.

“My concern isn’t about which curriculum the parent chooses.” Dickinson explained. “My concern is that parents will lose the ability to completely control their child’s education, without the confines, conformity and uniformity of content occurring in a public school setting which The Home Education Foundation has fought hard to provide. The cost of the 'free' curriculum is the loss of the parents’ right to direct the content, timing and order of their child’s education.”

Be careful that the ‘free’ curriculum does
not cost you the hard fought right to
freely direct your child's education.

“It may look like home education, but enrolling a child in the school district in order to have free curriculum mandates that the parent bring public school home, coming under the authority of the school district.” she continued. "The home education law allows parents to follow the interests of their child, to provide instruction based on the child’s development and maturity, to choose reading materials and to teach number concepts until the light comes on for that individual child. Concepts do not have to be taught on grade level unless the parent chooses to do so. Home education is not bound by school hours, school days or the school calendar. Home education is a way of life, capturing the teachable moment, and, in the early years, building a brain full of experiences on which to place information. Learning is not tied to the FCAT which only measures what students have learned in a classroom. It is about individuality, freedom and flexibility in learning.”

Currently, Florida home educators only have to register with their local school district, keep a log and portfolio of educational activities, and provide an annual evaluation of the child’s progress. These "free" public school curriculum require parents to “enroll” their child as a student in the district, to teach the courses prescribed in the curriculum, to school for the minimum required number of hours each day for a minimum number of days per year, and to see that the child takes the state assessment test, the FCAT, to measure how well the parent/teacher has instilled the required content for that grade level.

“Parents that use the free curriculum will most likely never experience the wonderful benefits other home educators do,” Dickinson noted. “Individualized education is one of the cornerstones of home education.”  These parents have so much more time to build relationships with their young children and allow them to learn at their own developmental pace. Parents of middle and high school students have many ways to “customize” their child’s home education program. They can incorporate public or private school courses or activities such as chorus, band, or sports into their home education program. They can choose courses from the Florida Virtual School and dual enrollment at state colleges and universities, all tuition free. Students can explore career options with internships and spend concentrated amounts of time in theatre and dance productions, speech and debate clubs, and pursue their passions and dreams.

“Be careful that the ‘free’ curriculum does not cost you, as well as future generations, the hard fought right to freely direct your child's education," Dickinson cautioned. "If a large percentage of parents choose the free curriculum, we may find that in a few short years home education will be redefined as 'public school at home' and the freedoms to individualize and direct a child’s education will be lost. Future home educators will be trained to bring 'public school home in a box.'”

The effort to get home educated students back into the public schools is not just occurring in Florida. It is happening nationwide. Read what is happening in California: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129552627

Home educators need to take time to educate themselves and others on the differences between bringing “school home in a box” and directing the education of your child at home. “We also need to get involved in the political process immediately.” Dickinson encouraged. “With so many people running for office in November,” Dickinson said, “home educators and their families need to get involved in as many political races at the local, state and national level as possible. While working on a candidate’s campaign, you will be building relationships that will provide opportunities for you to educate the candidate on the benefits and uniqueness of home education.”

“We need to be ready to mobilize forces on a moment’s notice if unfriendly legislation is proposed,” she explained. “Encourage every Florida home educator you know to subscribe to the HEF newsletter (http://www.flhef.org/subscribe-to-our-newsletter ) so they can stay informed and we can email them quickly if there is an urgent need.”

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.

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Home Education Candidates in the
2010 Elections



It is important that you get involved immediately in the campaign of your choice. Early voting begins October 18th and many people have already voted by Nov. 2. There are many important races at the national, state and local level.

HEF does not endorse candidates, but we thought you would like to know the home educated or home educators that we know about running in the upcoming General Election.


United States Congress

Troy Stanley (NPA) Distrist 4
Daniel Webster (R) District 8

 


Florida Senate
Rhonda Storms (R) District 10

 


Florida House of Representatives
Marti Coley (R) District 7
Steve Precourt (R) District 41
Will Weatherford (R) District 61
Rachel Burgin (R) District 56
Kelly Stargel (R) District 64
Scott Yardley (R) District 95

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HEF at Work for You!

Editor’s Note: Even though the legislative session was over months ago, the work of The Home Education Foundation never stops. Summer is a very busy time helping to educate and encourage FL Home Educators. Here are a few ways HEF has been at work for you in the past months.

August

  • Palm Beach County Homeschooling Cooperative - Palm Beach Gardens.
  • FACE - Lake City.
  • Began negotiating compromise for community service hours for Bright Future’s Scholarship with DOE.
  • Continued working with virtual education stakeholders.


September

  • Calvary Chapel Homeschool Ministry - Melbourne.
  • FHSAA Board meeting - Gainesville.
  • Lighthouse Homeschoolers - Lakeland
  • Handled several eligibility issues with FHSAA.
  • Discussed Home Ed policy issues in several school districts.

October

  • TWIGS - Bellair.
  • Homeschoolers of Miami Enrichment, Inc. - Miami Beach.
  • Began working with homeschoolers to address an overreaching county school board policy.

 

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Thank You HEF

Dear Brenda,

I know that my husband talked with you soon after our son was allowed back on the high school swim team, but I just wanted to add my heartfelt thanks.

You were so generous with your time, talking with me at length. It was obvious that you genuinely cared, and fully grasped the situation and asked all the right questions. I was touched by your willingness to get involved. You must have known exactly who to talk to because the situation was resolved quickly.

If I can ever do anything to help you or HEF, please let me know. We are deeply grateful for your help.

--Grateful Swimmer Mom

 

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Learn Civics by Experience

CAMPO Youth in Government walked over 500 houses in 2 hours.

"CAMPO YIG delegates walked over 500 houses for candidates today.  If you have any questions about precinct walking, ask your friends in the photo about their crazy experiences from today."

Great job guys!

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