Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eek! They're Creeping Out From Under the Woodwork Now!

It was inevitable, I suppose.

You get a nasty little surprise like In re Rachel and the opportunists start making themselves opportunities.

First come the credentialed teachers, offering to protect poor defenseless homeschoolers from any legal ambiguities Rachel might cause—for only $100 a month. (That would've been pretty much our whole book budget when we were still homeschooling. I'd stick with the books.)

And now come the outright scammers—somebody's apparently impersonating the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI says it's not them) with high-pressure calls asking for credit card donations to fight the new "illegality" of homeschooling in California.

All the more reason for the first rule I always talk about in my "Absolute Beginners' Guide to Homeschooling" workshops: Know your state's laws. If you keep yourself informed, you're less vulnerable to the opportunists and outright crooks.

(And HSC's still a very good source for the latest information.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oh, good grief.

A friend forwarded me an email announcement by an unschooling mother of four that she intends to start "training and certifying unschooling leaders." I can't help but think that someone who uses "unschooling," "training," "certifying," and "leader" in the same sentence in this way doesn't quite grasp the concept of unschooling in the first place. Of course, since her oldest child is only eight, she probably does still have a great deal to learn about unschooling.

Caveat Emptor

Sigh.

There’s a little too much hysteria floating around these days about the In re Rachel L. opinion that a California appellate court released on February 28. (For a summary of what it’s all about and what’s being done about it, visit the Homeschool Association of California (HSC) website, which has frequent news updates linked from their front page.)

There’s some discussion about what the decision actually means for California homeschoolers, but the consensus view seems to be that if the opinion stands as is, all those families who were a bit too nervous to form their own private school and file the private school affidavit independently and instead enrolled in some sort of private school independent study program could eventually be affected by this ruling. Those families whose chose to go the completely independent route will probably be just fine.

The opinion, though, will not be final until March 28 (and the court could conceivably modify its opinion before then). Once it is final, the attorneys working for HSC, the California Homeschool Network (CHN), and probably the Christian Home Educators Association of California/Family Protection Ministries in affiliation with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), will file a petition with the California Supreme Court to have the opinion depublished, so that it will not be a precedent for any other cases.

As always, HSLDA has jumped into the situation energetically, using the California situation to promote their irrelevant Parental Rights Amendment, which in addition to being a stupid idea, has zero chance of becoming a part of the United States Constitution. But it’s given them a means to collect the signatures and contact information of over a quarter million people they can now solicit for membership and support for their usual right-wing religious agenda. Far too many people, thinking they're just buying legal insurance, sign up with HSLDA without looking into what it spends their money for, and many would be appalled to find out what their dues support.

But then, some of those nervous families would do well to investigate the private schools they enroll their kids with, too, before they start writing checks. Just as an example, consider the school the family in this court case enrolled their kids in: Sunland Christian School. Sunland is operated by a guy named Terry Neven. It advertises on its website that it’s an accredited school, accredited by the National Independent Study Accreditation Council (NISAC). But if you look into NISAC, you’ll discover that it’s run by this same Terry Neven from the same address as Sunland Christian School. Further, Mr. Neven offers his enrolled families legal support (why would a legitimate private school feel the need to offer legal support to its enrolled families?) from California Home Education Legal Defense (CHELD), which—what a surprise!—operates from the same address as Sunland Christian School and NISAC. (Mr. Neven is not a lawyer, by the way.)

[No links here intentionally. Anybody who really wants to find Mr. Neven’s fishy little family of companies can do so, but I don’t have to make it easier for them.]

That’s one of the advantages of forming your own private school and filing your own affidavit—you’re taking no risks of unpleasant surprises from the people you’re putting in charge of your kids’ education. After all, you’ve known them well since before you even had kids.